Graham threatens to hold up Hagel, Brennan votes
(CBS News) Until President Obama details his actions on the night of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, Sen. Lindsey Graham will block votes on his nominees to head the Department of Defense and the CIA, the South Carolina Republican vowed today on "Face the Nation."
Graham said he'll heed advice floated by fellow Armed Services Committee member Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., not to filibuster Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., as defense secretary and John Brennan as CIA director. But, citing a recently unearthed letter that then-Sen. Joe Biden sent in 2005 pressing for further information before a vote on former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, Graham said he's going to urge the message among his colleagues, "No confirmation without information," and will place a hold on the confirmation votes - an action any Senate member reserves the right to take - until the White House explains its garbled talking points following the Libya attack.
Five days after what would come to be deemed an attack by extremists with "linkages" to al Qaeda, Amb. Susan Rice appeared on "Face the Nation" and said the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was "spontaneous," prompted by an inflammatory anti-Muslim video that had led to protests in Egypt and elsewhere. Graham, who led the protest that resulted in Rice removing her name from the secretary of state shortlist, issued the charge of "stonewalling" by the administration.
"I'm not going to stop until we get to the bottom of it," Graham said. "We know nothing about what the president did on the night of September 11, during a time of national crisis, and the American people need to know what their commander-in-chief did, if anything, during the eight-hour attack.
"...I don't know what the president did that evening," he continued. "I don't know if he ever called anyone. I know he never talked to the secretary of defense. I know that he never talked to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs. ...I know the secretary of state never talked to the secretary of defense. This was incredibly mismanaged. And what we know now, it seems to be a very disengaged president."
Appearing in the same segment, Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., called Graham's threat to stall the nominations "unprecedented and unwarranted," and said he hopes the Senate gets a chance to vote on Hagel and Brennan. House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., later in the show said he agreed with Graham that there was a "catastrophic failure in the decisions, from a security perspective, from the State Department" that ran up to the attack. "I do think answers are appropriate," he said.
Lindsey Boerma is senior video producer for CBSNews.com.Follow on Twitter »
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