Still searching for the full truth behind the Sept. 11 Benghazi, Libya, terrorism attacks, Sen. Lindsey Graham said Sunday he will block two key Obama administration appointments until he gets answers.
During an interview Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation,”Mr. Graham, South Carolina Republican, said he intends to place a “hold” — a parliamentary maneuver in the Senate that temporarily prevents a floor vote — on the nominations of John O. Brennan, tapped to be director of the CIA, and former Sen. Chuck Hagel, the president’s pick to lead the Defense Department.
He promised that there will be “no confirmation without information,” using the two appointments as leverage in his ongoing effort to receive a full, satisfactory explanation of the Benghazi attacks that led to the death of four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.
“I don’t think we should allow Brennan to go forward for the CIA directorship, Hagel to be confirmed for secretary of defense until the White House gives us an accounting” of what really happened on that day, Mr. Graham said. “I’m going to get to the bottom of it.”
His words come at a time that Mr. Obama and his national security team continue to take fire from congressional Republicans and other critics.
Mr. Hagel was widely criticized for his recent Senate testimony, and Republicans have taken serious issue with his support of steep Defense Department budget cuts and what some view as soft positions on Iran, among other concerns.
Over the weekend, former Vice President Dick Cheney said that Mr. Obama has jeopardized national security with the Hagel pick and other selections.
“The performance now of Barack Obama as he staffs up the national security team for the second term is dismal,” Mr. Cheney said, speaking to about 300 members of the Wyoming Republican Party.
“Frankly, what he has appointed are second-rate people,” he added.
As for the specifics of Benghazi, Mr. Graham said he wants to know whether the president called Libyan authorities while the Benghazi attacks were taking place. A six-person rescue team had flown to Benghazi from Tripoli to defend the U.S. Consulate, but it was detained at the airport by Libyan officials.
If they hadn’t been held up, Mr. Graham said, at least two Americans could have been spared.
“Did the president ever pick up the phone and call the Libyan government [and say to] let those people out of the airport?” Mr. Graham asked. “Did the president at any time during this eight-hour attack pick up the phone and call anyone in Libya to get help for these folks? There’s no voice in the world like the president of the United States.”
During testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee last week, outgoing Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said that he informed Mr. Obama about the attacks, but that they did not speak for the rest of the night as the deadly assault continued. The president did not ask how long it would take to deploy assets to the area, nor did he ask what assets were already in the area, according to Mr. Panetta’s testimony.