On the eve of an expected Senate committee vote on President Obama’s nominee for CIA director, three Republican senators Monday issued a list of unanswered questions about the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire previously have said they would leverage the confirmation process for White House counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan’s nomination to get answers about the attack, in which U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, State Department official Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALS Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed.
Among the questions the senators say have not been answered is which officials or agency edited unclassified “talking points” about the attack that U.S. intelligence analysts prepared several days after the assault.
Although U.S. intelligence had concluded within hours that the attack was likely organized by members of a militia linked to al Qaeda, the talking points did not refer to it as a terrorist attack, and the reference to an al Qaeda link was deleted.
Last week, members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which is scheduled to vote Tuesday on Mr. Brennan’s nomination to head the CIA, were briefed on the drafting of the talking points, and saw emails in which changes were recommended.
But none of the three senators who issued Monday’s statement are members of the committee.
In addition, the senators say they do not know what action the president took during the evening, as the attack was unfolding, after he had been briefed on it by then-Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.