Oct 23 2012


I respectfully disagree with the Department of Defense decision to classify the Fort Hood shooting as workplace violence.  It’s not fair to the victims, and their families, for this incident to be described in that manner


Oct 19 2012

Washington­– U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) today renewed their request from ten days ago that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director David Petraeus and John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, answer questions regarding the shifting official explanations surrounding the tragic murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three of our other fellow Americans in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012. As the senators write in their letter, “Our questions should not be hard to answer, and the American people have a right to learn what our intelligence communities knew about the events of September 11, 2012, and when they knew it.”

 

Today’s letter and the senators’ original October 9th letter are below.

 

October 19, 2012

 

The Honorable James R. Clapper, Jr.

Director of National Intelligence

Office of the Director of National Intelligence

Washington, DC 20511

 

The Honorable David H. Petraeus

Director of the Central Intelligence Agency

Central Intelligence Agency

Washington, DC 20511

 

The Honorable John Brennan

Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and

Counterterrorism and Deputy National Security Advisor

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20500

 

Dear Director Clapper, Director Petraeus and Mr. Brennan:

 

It has been ten days since our letter to you requesting a prompt reply to important questions regarding the circumstances of the tragic murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three of our other fellow Americans in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012. As of today, October 19th, we have not received a response. Our questions should not be hard to answer, and the American people have a right to learn what our intelligence communities knew about the events of September 11, 2012, and when they knew it.

 

As time progresses, it only becomes more important for Congress and the American people to have the intelligence community clarify the confusion still surrounding the Administration’s initial explanation of the attack in Benghazi. We have important responsibilities to our constituents, who are demanding clear answers to the questions we sent to you. Your lack of response is inhibiting our ability to perform our duties on behalf of our fellow citizens. We therefore continue to seek answers to our questions and expect a reply as soon as possible.

 

Thank you.

 

Sincerely,

 

Lindsey Graham

John McCain 

Kelly Ayotte

 

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October 9, 2012

 

The Honorable James R. Clapper, Jr.

Director of National Intelligence

Office of the Director of National Intelligence

Washington, DC 20511

 

The Honorable David H. Petraeus

Director of the Central Intelligence Agency

Central Intelligence Agency

Washington, DC 20511 

 

The Honorable John Brennan 

Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and

Counterterrorism and Deputy National Security Advisor

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20500 

 

Dear Director Clapper, Director Petraeus and Mr. Brennan:

 

Amid the public confusion and shifting official explanations surrounding the tragic murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three of our fellow Americans in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012, we write to ask you to provide your best professional judgment in response to a few questions regarding the circumstances of this attack. Clarifying the record about what information our intelligence community possessed in the aftermath of the attack in Benghazi, what judgments it reached at what time as a result of this information, and what recommendations it provided to senior policymakers as they spoke publicly about these events is a matter of utmost important for the Congress and our constituents. The American people deserve answers.

 

We therefore ask for your prompt and thorough reply to the following questions:

 

  • First, within 48 hours of the attack, was there credible information and reporting to suggest that the assault on our Consulate and other U.S. facilities in Benghazi should be characterized as a terrorist attack? This is certainly how it appeared to many Americans, allegedly including some members of the Administration. It has been reported that Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy – a Foreign Service Officer with decades of experience, and the senior official responsible for the security of State Department operations – offered his personal judgment during a briefing to Congressional staff on the day after the attack in Benghazi that it had the hallmarks of a sophisticated, well-coordinated terrorist act. We are eager to know what the intelligence community knew, and what initial judgments it reached, at that time.
  • Second, at what time did intelligence community agencies or elements first assess that the events in Benghazi were a terrorist attack? This is important because, as late as five days after the attack in Benghazi, senior policymakers were still characterizing it as the result of a spontaneous demonstration in response to a disgusting video insulting Islam. Furthermore, in a letter last week, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice maintained that she was relying on the best assessments of the intelligence community when she characterized the cause of the attack in Benghazi as a spontaneous protest, not an act of terrorism, during a television interview five days after the fact.
  • Finally, what information did you and the intelligence community provide to senior policymakers that led some of them to draw the conclusion as late as five days after the attack in Benghazi that it was the result of a spontaneous demonstration, not a terrorist act? Was there no credible evidence at that late date that was compelling enough for the intelligence community and the senior policymakers to draw a conclusion with at least moderate confidence that the attack in Benghazi was a terrorist act?

 

We look forward to your prompt reply to our questions and ask that they be submitted in unclassified form. It is important for the intelligence community to clarify the confusion that still surrounds the Administration's initial explanation of the attack in Benghazi. This matter raises many critical questions for Congress to consider further, and we appreciate your cooperation and assistance in this effort.

 

Sincerely,

 

Lindsey Graham

John McCain

Kelly Ayotte

Saxby Chambliss

 

###

 

Oct 19 2012

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and John McCain (R-Arizona) today released the following statement on the lack of United States military reinforcements to aid our Consulate in Benghazi, Libya during the September 11, 2012 attack:

 

“A number of our constituents are asking what could have been done to protect our fellow Americans during the almost eight hour siege on our Consulate in Benghazi on September 11, 2012.   As a result, we contacted Department of Defense officials.  To our dismay, we were informed that despite ample warning signs that the immediate region remained unstable and our people under threat, inadequate preparations were made to respond to what in retrospect seems a likely attack.

 

“We were told reconnaissance aircraft were sent, and that a surveillance drone had been repositioned in response to the attack. But we were both shocked to hear that on September 11th, a day of heightened concern for American interests throughout the world, there were no land forces available to support Benghazi, Libya—one of the most vulnerable and high threat areas within the Middle East.  We were further stunned and disappointed to hear that there was no effort to use fighter aircraft to disperse the attack or support the consulate.  One of the most disturbing aspects of this situation was the low level of security and the lack of ability to reinforce the consulate that had been attacked on two previous occasions, in a region where most Western interests had withdrawn because of al-Qaeda-inspired militia.

 

“The last two casualties occurred well over six hours after the initial attack.  It was known early that the U.S. Ambassador to Libya was missing.  His whereabouts were only discovered when Libyan hospital officials, who were attending to Ambassador Stevens, found his cell phone and made a call.  It is disappointing to hear that our national command authorities failed to try to reinforce the Consulate with timely air assets, and that a consulate located in one of the most dangerous regions in the world was so unsecured.”

 

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Oct 15 2012

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) made this statement on the death of Peatsy Hollings:

“South Carolina has lost one of her finest with the passing of Peatsy Hollings.  She was an incredible person and exhibited class and grace throughout her long and successful life.  From her service as an educator to her tireless advocacy for those in need, Mrs. Hollings was a great role model.  My thoughts and prayers go out to Senator Hollings and their entire family.  She will be sorely missed.

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Oct 15 2012

Washington – U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John McCain (R-AZ) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) today released the following statement on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s comments this evening regarding the terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi on September 11, 2012:

“We have just learned that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has claimed full responsibility for any failure to secure our people and our Consulate in Benghazi prior to the attack of September 11, 2012. This is a laudable gesture, especially when the White House is trying to avoid any responsibility whatsoever.

“However, we must remember that the events of September 11 were preceded by an escalating pattern of attacks this year in Benghazi, including a bomb that was thrown into our Consulate in April, another explosive device that was detonated outside of our Consulate in June, and an assassination attempt on the British Ambassador. If the President was truly not aware of this rising threat level in Benghazi, then we have lost confidence in his national security team, whose responsibility it is to keep the President informed. But if the President was aware of these earlier attacks in Benghazi prior to the events of September 11, 2012, then he bears full responsibility for any security failures that occurred. The security of Americans serving our nation everywhere in the world is ultimately the job of the Commander-in-Chief. The buck stops there.

“Furthermore, there is the separate issue of the insistence by members of the Administration, including the President himself, that the attack in Benghazi was the result of a spontaneous demonstration triggered by a hateful video, long after it had become clear that the real cause was a terrorist attack. The President also bears responsibility for this portrayal of the attack, and we continue to believe that the American people deserve to know why the Administration acted as it did."

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Oct 12 2012


South Carolina passed a Voter ID bill, complied with federal law by submitting it for pre-clearance, and was ultimately vindicated by the October 10 ruling.  Appealing the Court's ruling will cost both the Federal government and the State of South Carolina more money in litigation costs; money that can be better utlilized in other areas.


Oct 09 2012

Washington ­– U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John McCain (R-AZ), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) today sent letters to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director David Petraeus, and John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, asking them to respond to specific questions regarding the shifting official explanations surrounding the tragic murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three of our fellow Americans in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012. As the senators write in their letter, “Clarifying the record about what information our intelligence community possessed in the aftermath of the attack in Benghazi, what judgments it reached at what time as a result of this information, and what recommendations it provided to senior policymakers as they spoke publicly about these events is a matter of utmost important for the Congress and our constituents. The American people deserve answers.”

 

October 9, 2012

 

The Honorable James R. Clapper, Jr.

Director of National Intelligence

Office of the Director of National Intelligence

Washington, DC 20511

 

The Honorable David H. Petraeus

Director of the Central Intelligence Agency

Central Intelligence Agency

Washington, DC 20511

 

The Honorable John Brennan

Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and

Counterterrorism and Deputy National Security Advisor

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20500

 

Dear Director Clapper, Director Petraeus and Mr. Brennan:

 

Amid the public confusion and shifting official explanations surrounding the tragic murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three of our fellow Americans in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012, we write to ask you to provide your best professional judgment in response to a few questions regarding the circumstances of this attack. Clarifying the record about what information our intelligence community possessed in the aftermath of the attack in Benghazi, what judgments it reached at what time as a result of this information, and what recommendations it provided to senior policymakers as they spoke publicly about these events is a matter of utmost important for the Congress and our constituents. The American people deserve answers.

 

We therefore ask for your prompt and thorough reply to the following questions:

 

  • First, within 48 hours of the attack, was there credible information and reporting to suggest that the assault on our Consulate and other U.S. facilities in Benghazi should be characterized as a terrorist attack? This is certainly how it appeared to many Americans, allegedly including some members of the Administration. It has been reported that Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy – a Foreign Service Officer with decades of experience, and the senior official responsible for the security of State Department operations – offered his personal judgment during a briefing to Congressional staff on the day after the attack in Benghazi that it had the hallmarks of a sophisticated, well-coordinated terrorist act. We are eager to know what the intelligence community knew, and what initial judgments it reached, at that time. 
  • Second, at what time did intelligence community agencies or elements first assess that the events in Benghazi were a terrorist attack? This is important because, as late as five days after the attack in Benghazi, senior policymakers were still characterizing it as the result of a spontaneous demonstration in response to a disgusting video insulting Islam. Furthermore, in a letter last week, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice maintained that she was relying on the best assessments of the intelligence community when she characterized the cause of the attack in Benghazi as a spontaneous protest, not an act of terrorism, during a television interview five days after the fact.
  • Finally, what information did you and the intelligence community provide to senior policymakers that led some of them to draw the conclusion as late as five days after the attack in Benghazi that it was the result of a spontaneous demonstration, not a terrorist act? Was there no credible evidence at that late date that was compelling enough for the intelligence community and the senior policymakers to draw a conclusion with at least moderate confidence that the attack in Benghazi was a terrorist act?

 

We look forward to your prompt reply to our questions and ask that they be submitted in unclassified form. It is important for the intelligence community to clarify the confusion that still surrounds the Administration's initial explanation of the attack in Benghazi. This matter raises many critical questions for Congress to consider further, and we appreciate your cooperation and assistance in this effort.

 

Sincerely,

 

Lindsey Graham

John McCain

Kelly Ayotte

Saxby Chambliss

 

 

### 

Oct 05 2012

WASHINGTON – In an October 4 letter to U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John McCain (R-AZ), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Ron Johnson (R-WI), U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice responded to the senators’ inquiry about her repeated and inaccurate characterization of the attack in Benghazi as a “spontaneous reaction” that was not preplanned.  In yesterday’s letter, Ambassador Rice wrote, “I relied solely and squarely on the information the intelligence community provided to me…This information represented the intelligence community’s best, current assessment as of the date of my television appearances.”  Ambassador Rice also asserted in the letter that “the U.S. intelligence community and the FBI have launched a comprehensive effort to determine the circumstances surrounding the assault…”

 

Senators McCain, Graham, Ayotte, and Johnson responded with the following statement:

 

“The Obama administration failed to sufficiently protect our consulate and diplomats in Benghazi in the face of obvious and growing threats in eastern Libya in the months leading up to the September 11, 2012, terrorist attack.  To make matters worse, the administration mishandled its response to the attack and appears to have selected intelligence that mischaracterized the attack and misled the American people.

 

“Elements of the intelligence community apparently told the administration within hours of the attack that militants connected with al Qaeda were involved, yet Ambassador Rice claims her comments five days later reflected the ‘best’ and ‘current’ assessment of the intelligence community.  Either the Obama administration is misleading Congress and the American people, or it is blaming the entire failure on the intelligence community.

 

“Ambassador Rice claims the administration launched a ‘comprehensive’ effort to determine what happened in Benghazi, but the administration failed to secure the scene of the terrorist attack for three weeks – allowing evidence and sensitive information to be compromised and destroyed.  From beginning to end, the administration’s behavior in the wake of the attack indicates a breathtaking level of incompetence and suggests an intent to deliberately mislead Congress and the American people.”

 

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