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Senators Again Urge Obama to Answer Key Questions about Benghazi Attack

11:51 AM, Oct 31, 2012 • By ROBERT ZARATE
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• 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?

On October 15, 2012, Senator Graham sent letters to Mr. Brennan, Director Clapper, Director Petraeus, as well as National Security Advisor Thomas Donilon. The letters highlighted the fact that on June 6, 2012, assailants placed an improvised explosive device (IED) on the north gate of the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. The IED detonated and ripped a hole in the security perimeter that was described by one individual as "big enough for forty men to go through." This attack was preceded by an earlier IED attack against the Consulate in April 2012. Based on these facts, the letter included the following questions:

• Were you aware of these attacks?

• Did you inform the President of these attacks?

• If so, what action was taken to protect our Consulate?

• If you did not inform the President, why not?

On October 15, 2012, Senator Graham sent you a similar letter asking the following questions:

• Were you informed of these attacks on our Libyan Consulate?

• If not, why not?

• Did you consider these serious events?

• If you were informed, what action was taken to protect the Consulate?

On October 19, 2012, we sent a follow-up letter to the same three senior intelligence officials in your administration noting that ten days had elapsed since we sent the October 9 letter.

On October 24, 2012, we sent a letter to you asking the following questions:

• Why did your administration insist that a spontaneous demonstration was responsible for the attack on our Consulate, but as the State Department later divulged, no demonstration even occurred in Benghazi?

• Why were requests for greater security assistance by officers on the ground not fulfilled, especially in light of the fact that there had already been two attacks on our Consulate in Benghazi this year and an attempt to assassinate the British Ambassador-events about which you should have known?

• In light of the deteriorating security situation in Benghazi and the escalating series of attacks in the preceding months, why were there not rapid reaction forces or other military assets available in the region to deploy to Libya in the event of an emergency on September 11, 2012-a day that our intelligence agencies consistently cite far in advance as a moment of heightened security threat for the United States and our citizens and interests abroad?

On October 26, 2012, we sent a letter to Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta; Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, David H. Petraeus; and Attorney General, Eric H. Holder requesting the immediate declassification of the surveillance video in and around the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi for the two days-September 11 and 12, 2012-that it and related U.S. facilities were under attack.

On October 27, 2012, Senators McCain and Portman sent a letter to Secretary Panetta asking the following questions:

• What military forces were available to provide support to U.S. personnel in Libya?

• What military forces were requested to provide support to U.S. personnel in Libya, by whom, and what forces were provided?

• What communication and coordination did you have with the President and other members of the National Security Council regarding possible Defense Department support in Libya?

Your failure to answer these important questions will only add to the growing perception among many of our constituents that your administration has undertaken a concerted effort to misrepresent the facts and stonewall Congress and the American people. We look forward to a prompt and thorough response to these questions. The American people deserve a full accounting of what happened in Benghazi where four brave Americans were murdered.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

John McCain
United States Senator

Lindsey Graham
United States Senator

Kelly Ayotte
United States Senator

Ron Johnson
United States Senator

Cc: The Honorable Leon E. Panetta, Secretary of Defense;
The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr., Attorney General of the United States;
The Honorable James R. Clapper, Jr., Director of National Intelligence;
The Honorable David H. Petraeus, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency

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