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Senator Graham Press Releases
Contact: Kevin Bishop (864) 250-1419 or Lorcan Connick (202) 224-5972
Date: 04/29/2014

Graham, Ayotte, McCain Seek Hearings on Benghazi Talking Points


WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Kelly Ayotte (R-New Hampshire), and John McCain (R-Arizona) have written Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez and House Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce urging their committees - as the committees of jurisdiction for the State Department - to hold hearings on the many unanswered questions that remain regarding the origin of the Benghazi talking points.

"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," wrote the Senators.

"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?

"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?

"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?

"If we are to avoid future terrorist attacks like the one in Benghazi, we must answer these and many other unanswered questions."


The Senators' letter is below.

Dear Chairman Royce and Chairman Menendez:

On September 11, 2012, terrorists affiliated with al Qaeda attacked our diplomatic facility in Benghazi and took the lives of four brave Americans. In the 19 months since then, numerous committees have held hearings to better understand what happened before, during, and after the terrorist attack.

We recognize and applaud your willingness to call on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, and former Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides to testify. Yet, despite their testimony, important questions remain unanswered.

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.

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?

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?

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?

If we are to avoid future terrorist attacks like the one in Benghazi, we must answer these and many other unanswered questions.

For that reason-absent a Joint Select Committee to investigate these questions across multiple jurisdictions-we ask that your committee, as the committee of jurisdiction for the State Department, hold additional hearings to answer these and other important questions.

Thank you for your leadership on this important issue.

####





April 2014 Press Releases




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