Senators Call on Menendez, Royce to Hold Hearings on Benghazi Talking Points

The Senate trio that has hammered the upper chamber about conducting a thorough Benghazi investigation jumped on emails showing White House official Ben Rhodes steering the talking points toward a non-existent protest.

The emails released Tuesday, obtained by Judicial Watch through a Freedom of Information Act request, raised even more questions about the administration's response to the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack, said Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.).

“The recent testimony by former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell in front of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, coupled with the previous release of more than one hundred pages of emails from the White House, has generated even more questions,” they wrote to Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and House Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) to urge hearings on the talking points.

“To begin with, how could former Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, during the five Sunday talk shows on September 16, 2012, claim that the attacks on our compounds were caused by a hateful video when Mr. Morell testified that the CIA never mentioned the video as a causal factor and made no reference to the video in any of the multiple versions of the talking points? Was she briefed by the State Department or the White House that the video caused the attack? If so, who provided the brief?" the senators' letter continued.

“During those five Sunday shows, Ambassador Rice also made erroneous claims about the high level of security at the Benghazi compound.  In one instance she stated that 'we had substantial security presence with our personnel.' In another, she stated, 'we obviously did have a strong security presence.' Who informed Ambassador Rice about the level of security at the compound? Why did she make such claims that were clearly misrepresentations of the facts?"

McCain, Graham and Ayotte also noted that “Ambassador Rice also falsely asserted that al Qaeda was decimated. Who briefed her about al Qaeda’s activities in Libya?"

“Lastly, why was Ambassador Rice, someone who had no direct authority over operations in Libya, chosen to speak to the nation in the immediate aftermath of the attack in Benghazi?" they told the chairman. “If we are to avoid future terrorist attacks like the one in Benghazi, we must answer these and many other unanswered questions."