Sep 27 2012

Washington ­– U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain today released the following statement on Libya:

 

“Today, more than two weeks after the attack on our Consulate in Benghazi, President Obama finally called this what it clearly was: an act of terrorism, not a spontaneous protest against a disgusting video. Secretary Clinton said also today the attack was linked to Al-Qaeda. This is exactly what senior Libyan leaders have been saying from almost the moment the attack occurred, despite earlier claims to the contrary by members of the Administration. Indeed, that the Benghazi tragedy was a terrorist attack has been clear to anyone who understands that ordinary protesters do not bring machine guns, mortars, and rocket-propelled grenades to a demonstration.

 

“We recognize that Al-Qaeda involvement in a terrorist attack that killed four Americans in Libya is an inconvenient truth for a President who claims to be destroying Al-Qaeda. But it is not too much to ask why the President and his Administration have taken so long to state what has appeared obvious for a long time about what really happened in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. This is just one more example of this President's failure to lead in the Middle East and how that failure has threatened America's national security interests. Now is not the time to lead from behind.”

 

###

Sep 26 2012

WASHINGTONU.S. Senators John McCain (R-Arizona), Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Kelly Ayotte (R-New Hampshire) and Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) sent a letter to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice seeking clarification on her statements that the September 11 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya was the result of a “spontaneous reaction.”  The evidence clearly shows the attack that resulted in the death of four Americans including Ambassador Chris Stevens was planned and coordinated.

 

“In the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attack in Benghazi that resulted in the death of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, you made several troubling statements that are inconsistent with the facts and require explanation,” the Senators wrote.  “We look forward to a timely response that explains how the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations could characterize an attack on a U.S. consulate so inaccurately five days after a terrorist attack that killed four Americans.”

 

Full text of the letter is below:

 

September 25, 2012

 

Ambassador Susan Rice

United States Mission to the United Nations

799 United Nations Plaza

New York, N.Y. 10017-3505

 

Dear Ambassador Rice:

 

In the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attack in Benghazi that resulted in the death of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, you made several troubling statements that are inconsistent with the facts and require explanation.

 

Speaking on Meet the Press on September 16, you said, “What happened in Benghazi was in fact initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in Cairo, almost a copycat of the demonstrations against our facility in Cairo, which were prompted, of course, by the video.”  Speaking on Fox News Sunday, you said, “We are of the view that this is not an expression of hostility in the broader sense toward the United States or U.S. policy. It's approximately a reaction to this video...”  On September 14, the Libyan President, Mohamed Yousef el Magariaf, said the attack on our consulate in Benghazi was “preplanned.”  Two days later and immediately before your interview on CBS’s Face the Nation, the Libyan President reiterated that the attack was planned “a few months ago.”  When you followed the Libyan President on this same program, the host confronted you with the discrepancy between your comments and the comments of the Libyan President.  You again described the attacks as “spontaneous” and said the attacks were not “preplanned”.

 

By the date of your comments, it was already clear that the attack in Libya was a terrorist attack, and that heavily armed and well trained attackers appeared to have prepared for an opportunity to attack U.S. interests.  We also knew that there is a significant network of al Qaeda affiliated groups and other terrorists in eastern Libya, some of whom have attacked western interests in the last few months.  Yet, you repeatedly asserted the implausible explanation that the attack in Benghazi was a spontaneous reaction to the video despite growing evidence to the contrary.

 

Before your appearance on a number of Sunday shows, we also knew that Ayman al Zawahiri, the head of al Qaeda, released a video just before the attacks acknowledging and eulogizing the death of Abu Yahya al Libi and calling for terrorist attacks.  As you know, al Libi was a Libyan who served as the second in command in al Qaeda under al Zawahiri and was a top leader in the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.  The U.S. killed al Libi in a drone strike in North Waziristan, Pakistan, in June 2012. 

 

You were surely aware of these facts on September 16 when you made your remarks.  Yet, these facts, including the unlikely coincidence that the attack was conducted on the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, did not prevent you from making confident and counterintuitive assertions to the contrary.  These facts did not prevent you from labeling the murder of four Americans as a “spontaneous reaction” to the video and “not an expression of hostility…toward the United States.”  If the murder of four American diplomats is not “an expression of hostility” it is difficult to know what would be.

 

We look forward to a timely response that explains how the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations could characterize an attack on a U.S. consulate so inaccurately five days after a terrorist attack that killed four Americans.

 

Sincerely,

 

John McCain

Lindsey Graham

Kelly Ayotte

Ron Johnson

#####

Sep 25 2012

Washington ­– U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), John McCain (R-Arizona) and Kelly Ayotte (R-New Hampshire) today released the following joint statement on President Obama’s recent comments about “bumps in the road” in the Middle East on his watch:

 

“President Obama recently said the broader Middle East has been experiencing some ‘bumps in the road.’ If the President had taken some time to hold even one meeting with his foreign colleagues during his visit to the U.N. General Assembly in New York today, perhaps they would have told him what has really happened in the Middle East on his watch.

 

“It is not a ‘bump in the road’ when American embassies, and those of our friends and allies, are attacked by hateful mobs who also murder their fellow citizens, allegedly because of a disgusting and bigoted video. That is the result of extremists who would seize on any opportunity to further their ideological agenda – extremists who have been gaining ground over the past two years.

 

“It is not a ‘bump in the road’ when Al-Qaeda fighters and their terrorist allies have been gaining ground in Libya, a country the United States helped to liberate but has not sufficiently supported in its ongoing struggle against lawlessness and violent extremism.

 

“It is not a ‘bump in the road’ when the relationship between the United States and Israel has never been worse at a time when the threat from Iran has never been greater and when events in the Middle East have never been more tumultuous or uncertain.

 

“It is not a ‘bump in the road’ when Israel and our Gulf partners have never had less confidence in the willingness of the American President to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.

 

“It is not a ‘bump in the road’ when more than 25,000 men, women, and children have been slaughtered by the Assad regime in Syria – a conflict that is destabilizing the region, putting weapons of mass destruction at risk, creating a new safe haven for Al-Qaeda and its terrorist allies, and growing more dangerous by the day for the United States and our allies. That is the result of the President’s complete lack of leadership and unwillingness to take the necessary actions together with our friends and allies that could end the violence and create the conditions for a negotiated transition to a more peaceful, democratic future in Syria.

 

“It is not a ‘bump in the road’ when a small group of insurgents are able to destroy nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in U.S. fighter aircraft in a single attack in Kandahar – or when the ‘insider attacks’ against our forces and those of our allies have risen to such an extent that our commander has suspended training and joint operations with Afghan units, which is the core of our strategy to succeed. That is the result this Administration’s consistent efforts to cut corners in the war in Afghanistan – giving our commanders fewer troops than they recommended and withdrawing them in larger numbers and at a faster pace than our commanders advised, which is resulted in the very additional risks to our mission that our military leaders warned.

 

“It is not a ‘bump in the road’ when violence in Iraq is rising, the Iraqi political system is growing more authoritarian, Iranian meddling and influence is growing, and the Maliki government is allowing Iran to fly planeloads of weapons and fighters into Syria through Iraqi airspace. That is the result of a U.S. President who has squandered the gains of the surge in order to fulfill his campaign promise of withdrawing all U.S. troops from Iraq, even at the expense of our national security interests.

 

“None of these events are ‘bumps in the road.’ They are failures of American leadership. And they call for the United States to begin leading more actively, rather than trying to lead from behind.”

 

###

Sep 25 2012

Graham and Gowdy today sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder requesting documents pertaining to the Department of Justice's opposition to South Carolina's Voter ID Law.  They expressed concerns that an approval recommendation by career Voting Section experts was ignored and overruled by Obama appointees at the Justice Department.

Sep 24 2012

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement on his vote against the Paul Amendment.  The amendment failed 10-81.

 

“The Paul Amendment was so poorly drafted it could cut off funding to close American allies like Israel.  Under the Paul Amendment, if Hamas – a terrorist organization committed to the destruction of Israel -- were to ‘attack, trespass, or breach’ the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, the United States would be forced to cut off assistance to Israel.

 

“Al-Qaeda and like-minded radical Islamist groups would love nothing more than for the United States to withdraw from the region and world at large.  No matter how well-meaning Senator Paul’s amendment may be, now is not the time to give radical Islam a big victory.  Therefore, I could not support the Paul Amendment.

 

“In many ways the Mideast is on fire and the flames are being stoked by radical Islamists who understand they cannot achieve their goals unless they drive the United States out of the region.  These radical Islamists, along with their close Al Qaeda associates, are desperately trying to cut off the oxygen supply to many of the new Mideast governments which have been formed through democratic elections.”

 

“Finally, there was no consultation with the Director of the CIA, General David Petraeus, about what passage of this amendment would mean.  I have been informed by the intelligence community that now is the worst possible time to disengage.  While cutting off foreign assistance may make for good short-term politics, it creates dangerous long-term national security concerns.

 

“Since 9/11 we have been well-served by taking the fight to the enemy in their own backyard.  The terrorists would love for us to disengage from the region so they could regain a lost foothold.  If we disengage, I’m convinced the fight would once again move to our back yard.

 

“Our aid to the Egyptian and Pakistani military and Libyan government provides leverage and influence at a time when we need it the most.  I will do everything in my power to keep the fight in the terrorist’s backyard.  That requires us staying involved in a constructive way, not just by the use of military force.”

 

#####

 

Status of Nations and U.S. Aid Cited in the Paul Amendment 
  • Pakistan is a nuclear-armed nation which must not be allowed to fall into the hands of the radical Islamic extremists.  Under current law, United States aid to Pakistan is contingent on their cooperation on security issues.  Senator Graham has expressed support for recent agreements with Pakistan that reopen the supply route to American troops in neighboring Afghanistan.
  • Egypt is the heart of the Arab World and is struggling to find its footing after years of dictatorship.  Senator Graham was the author of American law which put conditions on continued Egyptian aid.  Under the Graham provision, if Egypt breaks their treaty with Israel, American aid will stop.  Likewise, if democratic institutions in Egypt are shut down, American aid will stop.
  • Libya:  The assassination of the American Ambassador to Libya and other Americans was a terrorist attack plotted and executed by radical Islamists.  The attack does not represent the views of the beliefs of the Libyan populace.  In recent elections, the radical Islamists only received about 10 percent of the vote.  Withdrawal of American aid would only embolden and empower the radical Islamists who hate democracy, tolerance and modern thought.

Sep 19 2012

Washington U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and Joe Lieberman and today released the following statement regarding the decision to scale back combined operations between coalition and Afghan forces:

 

“In light of the tragic recent attacks on U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, we understand and respect the rationale for scaling back combined operations between coalition and Afghan troops. However, we also believe this decision raises questions about the broader strategy that the Obama Administration has been pursuing in this conflict, especially with respect to its timetable for drawing down our military forces in Afghanistan.

 

“Over the past three years, the Administration has repeatedly deployed fewer forces than our commanders recommended, and is now drawing down those forces in larger numbers and at a faster pace than our commanders advised. Our military leaders have testified to Congress that these decisions have put our mission in Afghanistan at greater risk, and those risks are now becoming more apparent. In particular, we are concerned that the rush to build up the Afghan National Security Forces as quickly as possible – so that U.S. forces could begin withdrawing on the Administration's timetable – has contributed to the problem of the so-called ‘insider attacks.’

 

“The President has said that the drawdown of U.S. forces from Afghanistan would be responsive to conditions on the ground. We believe those conditions are now worrisome enough to justify an immediate suspension of further U.S. troop withdrawals at this time. The purpose of this ‘strategic pause’ should be to give our commanders time to evaluate the effects of recent troop withdrawals and to offer their best military advice on how we can achieve our goals in Afghanistan, while preventing further attacks on our forces and those of our allies. We cannot afford to rush to failure in Afghanistan.

 

“Despite the despicable acts of violence by a few Afghans, we must remember that there are literally hundreds of thousands of other Afghans who have been waging this war side-by-side with our own forces. They are risking their lives – and giving their lives – in far greater numbers than Americans or any of other coalition partner, in order to prevent al Qaeda and its allies from regaining control of Afghanistan. These brave Afghans embody the hopes and dreams of the vast majority of their fellow citizens, who do not want their country to become a terrorist safe haven again, as it was before 9/11, and who simply want to live in peace. After all we have committed to this conflict over 11 challenging years, and considering the critical national security interest we have at stake in Afghanistan, we should now take a step back in light of conditions on the ground to determine what we must do to succeed in this war.”

 

####

Sep 17 2012

The Obama Administration's insistence that the attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya resulted from a riot inspired by a film, rather than a planned and coordinated attack, defies common sense.  It is imperative that Congress conduct an investigation into this matter, as the two scenarios are vastly different in terms of scope and depth.

Sep 10 2012

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement on the transfer of Afghanistan’s Parwan Detention Facility to Afghan control.

 

“The transfer of the Parwan Detention Facility is a significant achievement and major step forward in the planned transition from American to Afghan control of the war.

 

“I have seen the cautious, balanced approach on prison transfer develop from its beginning stages to full implementation.  I also know from my own personal experiences that those who worked on this project have kept American and Afghan security interests at the forefront of their thinking.  For this reason, the agreement contains important checks and balances addressing the potential release of individuals likely to go back to the fight.

 

“During my travels to Afghanistan, I have constantly reinforced the message with Afghan President Karzai that if you push prisoner transition from American to Afghan control too far and too fast -- resulting in a release of a detainee who commits a future act of violence -- it would do serious damage to American support for the mission.

 

“There are two groups of prisoners who have to be cautiously dealt with.  The first is third-country nationals who have been captured in Afghanistan and linked to the highest levels of the Al-Qaeada movement and other terrorist organizations.  These prisoners, in my view, should never be placed in the Afghan legal system.  They should remain in U.S. custody as they represent great national security threats to our nation.  They are also good candidates for detention at Guantanamo Bay.

 

“The second group is Afghans who have been labeled as enduring security threats by our forces because of their ties to the Taliban or Haqqani network.  We must never transfer these high value threats until the Afghan legal system has proven to be sound and capable of dealing with such cases.  I’m confident General Allen and the Obama Administration will be rightly cautious when it comes to transferring prisoners who represent a high security risk.  We will continue to work with the Afghan government to resolve the future of this small category of prisoners.

 

“My goal has always been to enhance Afghan sovereignty while never losing focus on U.S. force protection.  I am hopeful this prison transition will create a partnership between U.S. and Afghan military and intelligence forces allowing us to gather intelligence as well as keep enemy forces off the battlefield.

 

“I have seen no inclination by U.S. forces or the Obama Administration to transition control of the prison in a haphazard manner or to wash our hands of this problem.  Quite the contrary, I have seen a focused effort to ensure this is done correctly in both the short and long-term.

 

“Looking forward, I believe the transfer of the Parwan facility can become a model for how to achieve Afghan sovereignty in other areas as well.  With continued mentoring and resources, the Afghans have the will and ability to chart their own destiny to a better, brighter future.

 

“Congratulations to General Huber and his team at Task Force 435, along with their U.S. Embassy counterparts, in making this transfer successful and timely.  Under their leadership, the facility has become a model for Law of War detention.”

 

#####