Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain told Face the Nation that they want additional documents from the White House on what their response was to the Benghazi attack and are willing to hold up the vote to confirm John Brennan for CIA Director.
The White House has been stonewalling Congress for months regarding emails and other documents about the attack and Congress has tried unsuccessfully to put pressure on the president by attempting to filibuster his national security nominees.
Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. will not move forward President Obama’s nominee to head the CIA until they receive additional documents detailing the White House’s handling of the Sept. 11 attack on a U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, the pair said today on “Face the Nation.”
“John and I are hell-bent on making sure the American people understand this debacle called Benghazi,” Graham said, vowing to “stop” John Brennan’s confirmation until further information is released about the attack that left four Americans dead. A Tuesday vote is currently scheduled in the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Graham’s vocal censure of the administration’s response to Benghazi led to U.S. Secretary to the United Nations Susan Rice removing her name from the Secretary of State short list. In the days following the attack, Rice appeared on “Face the Nation” bearing administration talking points that argued it was “spontaneous” demonstration over an anti-Muslim video – a characterization the White House reversed upon announcing the strike was carried out by extremists with possible linkages to al Qaeda.
“Her story has completely collapsed under scrutiny,” Graham said. “I said this to the president: I want FBI interviews of the survivors. They were turned over to the intelligence committee and everything was blacked out. …The e-mail about who changed the talking points – there’s a big gap. I want to know who the survivors are so we can interview them.
“The transmissions from Benghazi to Washington, in real time, on the night of the attack,” he continued. “What were people asking for? What were they saying?”
Using a Cabinet nomination as leverage is a classic “give-and-take,” a “time-honored tradition” among lawmakers, Graham said. “And I’m going to insist on that,” he continued. “I’m not going to vote on a new CIA director until I find out what the CIA did in Benghazi.”
McCain said he hates to say he’s threatening to hold Brennan’s nomination because “the story tomorrow will be, ‘McCain and Graham threaten to…’
“Why don’t we just get answers to these questions?” McCain asked. “I’ve had questions, written questions, for Mr. Brennan for nearly three weeks now. I’ve not received a single answer. I think that we deserve at least an answer to those questions, and I have some questions about torture.”
The bottom line is that Congress is trying to find out if the administration deliberately lied to the American people for political reasons — namely, that the president’s response to the attack was incompetent, and that blaming the attacks on an anti-Muslim film obscured the fact that al-Qaeda were the real attackers and that statements made by the president that they were nearly down and out would have been proved wrong.
The two timelines the administration has released are inoperable at this point, as subsequent testimony by Leon Panetta and JCS Chairman General Dempsey contradicted those previous accounts.
Brennan hasn’t deigned to answer the questions submitted by a sitting Senator — an egregious violation of tradition and protocol. And the White House, with the press running interference for them, feels safe in refusing to cooperate with Congress.
It is not likely that a filibuster of Brennan will shake loose any new information about the attacks. Harry Reid has the votes to confirm the nominee and it’s not clear if the GOP is united enough on the issue to maintain a filibuster of the nomination.
So it is probable that Brennan will be confirmed sometime in the near future and the White House will continue to hide whatever it is they think might damage the president.