STATEMENT BY SENATORS MCCAIN, GRAHAM AND AYOTTE ON SELECT COMMITTEE AND UNANSWERED QUESTIONS THAT REMAIN ABOUT BENGHAZI
May 09 2014
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) today released the following statement detailing some of the unanswered questions remaining about Benghazi and the Select Committee established this week to answer them:
“This week, as the House of Representatives moved to establish a Select Committee to investigate Benghazi – a move we have called for since November 2012 – some in Washington have sought to dismiss these efforts by claiming that all of the questions surrounding the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi have been answered. Nothing could be further from the truth, and recent disclosures make clear the extent to which the Administration has sought to conceal information that could provide the American people with a full picture of this national tragedy. That is why Speaker John Boehner was correct to establish the Select Committee that can finally get to the bottom of the many questions that remain unanswered, some of which include:
- “According to a White House readout of the President’s meeting with senior Administration officials on September 10, 2012, the President, along with his principals, discussed the ‘steps taken to protect U.S. persons and facilities abroad’ in preparation for the 11th anniversary of the nation’s worst terrorist attack. We do not know who was a part of the meeting, nor do we know if anyone discussed the security situation in Libya. We also do not know why no one at the State Department has been held sufficiently accountable for ignoring the deteriorating security situation in Benghazi prior to the attack.
- “Accordingly, in light of the meeting on September 10, 2012, we do not know why, on the anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in American history, after multiple attacks on U.S. and Western interests in Libya, and with rising insecurity in countries across the Middle East and North Africa, U.S. military units and assets in the region were not ready, alert, and positioned to respond.
- “We do not know whether the President was made aware of the classified cable that, according to published media reports, Ambassador Chris Stevens sent on August 16, 2012, stating that the U.S. Special Mission Compound in Benghazi could not survive a sustained assault from one or more of the threatening militia groups that were operating in eastern Libya.
- “While we have reason to believe that President Obama was not in the Situation Room during the seven-hour duration of the attack in Benghazi, we do not know what the President did, nor who he was in contact with, during the attack, aside from a telephone call to the Israeli Prime Minister and a telephone call with Secretary Clinton.
- “We do not know why the President and senior Administration officials failed to listen to firsthand reports, accounts, and interviews of U.S. personnel on the ground in Libya during the attack in Benghazi, including the CIA Chief of Station, who stated clearly that there had never been a demonstration at the Special Mission Compound, and that the events of September 11, 2012 constituted a terrorist attack, and instead continued to suggest for up to two weeks following the attack that it was the result of demonstrations sparked by a hateful video. We do not know where the White House got the information that the attacks were a result of the video. Since the talking points provided to Ambassador Susan Rice did not mention the video, why did she repeatedly mention the video on the Sunday shows? Why didn’t the administration correct the misleading narrative sooner?
- “We do not know why Ambassador Susan Rice, during Sunday show interviews on September 16, 2012, claimed that the compound in Benghazi ‘had a substantial security presence’ on one show, and stated that ‘we obviously did have a strong security presence’ on another. Who briefed Ambassador Rice about the security posture in Benghazi? What information provided to her justified these statements? Did the phone call between Susan Rice and White House officials occur on Saturday September 15? Who participated in the call? Did the September 14 email from Rhodes inform the advice provided to Rice during the September 15 phone call? Was a hardcopy of Rhodes’ goals, top-line messages, and proposed answers provided to Rice?
- “On February 23, 2014, during another appearance on a Sunday morning show, Ambassador Rice stated that she had no regrets about her television appearances 17 months earlier and that at that time she provided the best available information. Does the Administration agree that her statements on September 16, 2012 about the security level in Benghazi were consistent with the best available information?
- “Following the recent revelation that a senior White House official, in an email on September 14, 2012, sought to portray the terrorist attack in Benghazi as stemming from the same cause as concurrent events in Egypt, Yemen, Pakistan, and elsewhere – ‘protests ... rooted in [an] Internet video, and not a broader failure [of] policy’ – despite evidence to the contrary that was available at the time, we need to know whether the White House had any other involvement in crafting a misleading narrative about the Benghazi attack.
- “Finally, we do not know why no terrorists responsible for the attack have been brought to justice. Since we know where Ahmed abu Khattala is, why hasn’t he been detained?
“It is our hope that the Select Committee that has been established in the House can finally uncover answers to these and other questions that remain. We owe nothing less to the families and friends of the four brave Americans who were lost nearly two years ago in Benghazi.”