Mar 04 2013

Washington ­– As the U.S. Senate continues to consider the Administration’s national security nominees, Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John McCain (R-AZ) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) today released the following statement on what we do know and what we still do not know about the attack on the U.S. Special Mission facility in Benghazi, Libya that killed four brave Americans on September 11, 2012: 

“What we know: 
  • Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was not aware of the classified cable that, according to published media reports, Ambassador Chris Stevens sent in August 2012 stating that the U.S. Special Mission facility in Benghazi could not survive a sustained assault from one or more of the militia groups that were operating in eastern Libya. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee that he was ‘surprised’ to learn that Secretary Clinton had never seen the cable.
 
  • After the initial reports about the attack in Benghazi, Secretary Panetta and General Dempsey met with President Obama during a previously scheduled meeting. Both Secretary Panetta and General Dempsey testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee that this was the last time either of them spoke with the President during the attack in Benghazi. We also know that the President spoke for nearly one hour that night with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and held a press conference on the attack at the White House the following morning before departing for a political campaign event in Las Vegas, Nevada. We do not know what other actions the President took during the attack in Benghazi.
 
  • In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary Clinton stated that the FBI was the first agency to debrief the U.S. personnel who were evacuated from Benghazi on September 12. It took multiple days before those reports, which made clear that there never was a spontaneous protest outside of the U.S. Mission in Benghazi, were provided to the U.S. intelligence community.
 
  • General Dempsey testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee that the U.S. military never provided additional support to the U.S. Mission in Benghazi prior to September 11, 2012 because they never received a request to do so – despite the fact that the U.S. Mission in Benghazi had been attacked twice already in the preceding months, and despite Ambassador Stevens’ August cable stating that the U.S. Mission in Benghazi could not survive a sustained attack by militants operating in the area.
 
  • Secretary Panetta and General Dempsey testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee that, from the beginning of the crisis on September 11, 2012 in Benghazi, they believed it was a terrorist attack based on the nature of the event. Similarly, Senator Dianne Feinstein, the Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has cited a transcript of a September 14 meeting between then-CIA Director David Petraeus and the members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, in which, according to Senator Feinstein, ‘Petraeus very clearly said that it was a terrorist attack.’
 
  • In an address on the morning of September 12, 2012, President Obama spoke of ‘acts of terror,’ but later that day, in an interview with CBS’s ‘60 Minutes,’ he refused to characterize the attack in Benghazi as a terrorist attack. He then spent nearly two additional weeks claiming that he did not know whether the incident in Benghazi was a terrorist attack, contrary to what the then-Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have said that they believed to be true at the time.
 “What we do not know: 
  • We do not know whether the President was made aware of the classified cable that, according to published media reports, Ambassador Chris Stevens sent in August 2012, stating that the U.S. Mission in Benghazi could not survive a sustained assault from one or more of the threatening militia groups that were operating in eastern Libya.
 
  • We do not know whether the President's national security staff made him aware of the attacks on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi that occurred in April and June of last year and the assassination attempt on the British Ambassador in Benghazi around the same time.
 
  • If the President was informed, we do not know what actions he may have taken.
 
  • We do not know what person or persons, representing what executive branch agency or agencies, changed the unclassified talking points to remove references to Al-Qaeda and a terrorist attack in describing the attack on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi.
 
  • We do not know why, on the anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in American history, after multiple attacks last year on U.S. and Western interests in Libya, and with rising insecurity in countries across the Middle East, U.S. military units and assets in the region were not ready, alert, and positioned to respond in a timely fashion to what should have been a foreseeable emergency – despite the fact that there is a U.S. military base in Souda Bay, Crete, which is a short flight to Benghazi.
 
  • We do not know what the President did or who he was in contact with during the seven hours of the attack, and we do not know why the President did not reach out to Libyan President Magariaf to ensure deployment of a U.S. tactical team that was held up for three hours at a Libyan airport.
 
  • We do not know why the testimonies of the U.S. personnel who were evacuated from Benghazi on September 12 – eyewitnesses who knew there never was a demonstration outside the U.S. Mission – were not shared in a timely way with, and immediately factored in to the judgments of, our intelligence community.
 
  • We do not know whether this failure reflects obstacles that still exist to the free sharing of information across executive branch agencies, which was a key concern of the 9/11 Commission.
 
  • We do not know why the Administration did not do more to support and assist the new Libyan government that took power after the fall of Qaddafi, including in the establishment of civilian-led national security forces that operate under central government control, a counterterrorism force that is trained and equipped to combat Al Qaeda and its affiliates, national justice and prison systems, and effective control over the immense stockpiles of weapons and dangerous materials that exist across Libya. The result of this so-called ‘light footprint’ approach was that Al-Qaeda, its affiliated groups, and local militias were able to establish sanctuaries almost uncontested in the ungoverned spaces of eastern Libya. Some of these individuals were involved in the attack on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi.”

 

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Mar 01 2013

Senator Graham was recognized by the American Conservative Union (ACU) for his conservative voting and received the 'ACU Conservative' award.

Feb 27 2013

Graham, Klobuchar, Schumer, Hoeven Reintroduce Bipartisan Bill to Crack Down on Rise in Metal Theft

Legislation would crack down on thieves and make it harder for them to sell stolen metal

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Charles Schumer (D-NY) and John Hoeven (R-ND) today reintroduced bipartisan legislation in the new Congress to crack down on the growing problem of metal theft. Metal theft has jumped more than 80% in recent years, as thieves steal high-priced metal from critical infrastructure as well as businesses, homes, churches and even veterans’ graves – causing families pain and threatening public safety. The Metal Theft Prevention Act would help crack down on metal thieves and make it harder for them to sell stolen metal.

 

“Thefts and resale of high-priced metals stolen from churches, businesses, and our nation’s critical infrastructure has skyrocketed in recent years,” said Graham.  “Our legislation makes it a federal crime to steal from these sites.  It also creates common-sense safeguards to prevent resale without interfering with states’ rights to prosecute.”

 

“In communities across Minnesota, thieves are stealing high-priced metal from public infrastructure, churches, and even taking brass stars from our veterans’ graves. These crimes are costing businesses thousands of dollars, threatening public safety, and causing families real pain,” Klobuchar said.  “This legislation will crack down on metal thieves, helping put them behind bars and make it more difficult for them to sell their stolen goods.”

 

“It is time to put thieves who steal scrap metal from homes, businesses, infrastructure – and even veterans’ graves – behind ironclad bars,” said Schumer. “This practical plan will combat the rash of metal theft by requiring recyclers to keep detailed documentation of metal purchases, capping the amount of cash recyclers can pay for scrap metal, ensuring that those selling metal are authorized to do so, and by making metal theft a federal crime. This proposal will safeguard families, business owners, and commuters who are endangered by the stripped infrastructure, fires, and financial hit as a result of these crimes.”

 

“What the federal law does is make sure that thieves can’t steal metal in one state and sell it in another state,” Hoeven said. “ At the same time, we’ve worked to craft the bill so that it is flexible and responsive and takes into consideration the concerns of businesses and Attorneys General across the country by ensuring that state law will supersede federal law in the case of metal thefts.”

 

Between 2009 and 2011, the National Insurance Crime Bureau found over 25,000 insurance claims related to metal theft, an increase of 81 percent over claims made between 2006 and 2008. In a recent study, the U.S. Department of Energy found that the total value of damages to industries affected by the theft of copper wire would likely exceed $900 million each year.

 

The Metal Theft Prevention Act calls for enforcement by the Attorney General and gives state attorneys general the ability to bring civil actions to enforce the provisions of the legislation. It also directs the U.S. Sentencing Commission to review penalty guidelines as they relate to metal theft and make sure they are adequate.  The bill also makes it an explicit federal crime to steal metal from critical infrastructure.

 

In addition, the legislation would also make it much tougher for thieves to sell stolen metals to scrap metal dealers. It contains a “Do Not Buy” provision which bans scrap metal dealers from buying certain items unless the sellers establish, by written documentation, that they are authorized to sell the metal in question. As a result of the bill, scrap metal dealers would be required to keep detailed records of metal purchases for two years and make them available to law enforcement agencies. The bill would also require that purchases of scrap metal over $100 be done by check instead of cash, to further help law enforcement track down thieves. Klobuchar, Graham and Schumer introduced similar legislation in the previous Congress.

 

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Feb 26 2013

I oppose the nomination of Chuck Hagel to serve as our next Secretary of Defense.  There were other, more capable choices available and I regret President Obama did not choose one of them.

Feb 21 2013

Graham, Gowdy Push Attorney General Holder For Explanation

South Carolinians Cite Lack of Prosecutions for Gun Background Check Denials

Too many of the legislative proposals being mentioned thus far are driven by politics and have been proven ineffective in the past.  While we do not claim to know everything about gun violence, we do know that a common-sense solution does not involve limiting the consitutional rights of law-abiding citizens.

Feb 19 2013

Washington ­– U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), John McCain (R-Arizona) and Kelly Ayotte (R-New Hampshire) released the following statement on President Obama’s comments today regarding looming budget sequestration:

 

“For months last year, we traveled around the country warning about the calamitous effects that budget sequestration would have on our nation’s economy and security. Today, just ten days prior to the implementation of these draconian cuts, the President held another campaign event to blame Republicans for sequestration, which was actually his idea in the first place. This country needs a Commander-in-Chief, not a Campaigner-in-Chief. We call on the President to bring Republicans and Democrats together at the White House and work to avert what his own Secretary of Defense said would be a ‘devastating’ blow to America’s security. We have offered a common sense plan to avoid these cuts; now, it’s time for the President to fulfill his responsibilities and bring all parties together to solve this looming crisis.”

 

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Feb 19 2013

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today released the following statement on the retirement of General John Allen:

“It was with great regret that I learned from General Allen that he will be retiring and not assuming NATO Command.   General Allen informed me shortly after meeting with the President that due to personal family reasons, he will be seeking retirement.

“The nation owes a great debt to General Allen, who has been one of the most outstanding officers I have ever known.  He led the surge of troops in Afghanistan, delivered a strong blow against our enemies, and did an exceptional job building up the Afghan security forces.

“General Allen and his family have served this nation with distinction, and his leadership in the future will be missed.  I wish him and his family all the best, and know that he will continue to contribute to our great nation outside of military service."

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Feb 12 2013

It is critical that we have a full understanding of American actions taken before, during, and after the attack.  While we cannot change history, the lessons we learn can help prevent such a tragedy from happening again.

Feb 05 2013

Washington ­– U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John McCain (R-AZ) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) today released the following statement on President Obama’s remarks on budget sequestration this afternoon:

 

“This past weekend, President Obama’s own Secretary of Defense said the budget cuts looming under sequestration will ‘weaken the United States’ and ‘make it much more difficult for us to respond to crises in the world.’ The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff agreed that ‘we will become less safe’ if these cuts go through.

 

“While the President last year promised that sequestration ‘will not happen,’ he has declined to address this looming crisis for more than a year. We appreciate that the President now wants to come to the negotiating table and we will examine his proposal closely.

 

“Every time we have a crisis in this country, President Obama’s solution is to raise taxes. With the economy still struggling and job growth very weak, the last thing America needs is a tax increase.

 

“In the coming days, we will be introducing legislation – as we did last year – to avoid the first year of defense budget cuts by reducing the size of the federal workforce through attrition as recommended by the Simpson-Bowles Commission. This common-sense approach avoids a damaging self-inflicted wound to America’s security, and we hope the President will join us in this effort.”

 

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