Face in the News: Sen. Graham, Rep. Issa, and Rep. Cummings on Libya

Following the House Oversight committee hearing on Libya last week, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Rep. Darrell Issa, and Rep. Elijah Cummings joined "Face the Nation" to discuss the latest details on the Benghazi raid that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Senator Lindsey Graham, who sits on the Senate Armed Services committee, said that he had been briefed by intelligence officials who told him they had passed along information to "Washington" within 24 hours of the attack that indicated it was a preplanned act of terrorism and not a spontaneous protest.

Although UN Ambassador Susan Rice said on "Face the Nation" days after the attack that there was no sign of a premeditated effort in Benghazi at that time, Graham suggested that the administration was already aware that it was a terrorist attack.

"They're trying to sell a narrative, quite frankly, that the Mid-East, the wars are receding and al Qaeda's been dismantled, and to admit that our embassy was attacked by al Qaeda operatives...undercuts that narrative," Graham said. "I think they have been misleading us, but it finally caught up with them."

Graham said there was no evidence of a riot at the compound, despite President Obama's appearances on talk shows days after the consulate attack where he said a spontaneous riot was inspired by an anti-Muslim YouTube video.

"The Mid-East is falling apart. And they're trying to spin what happened in Libya because the truth of the matter is, al Qaeda is alive and well, and counter-attacking." Graham said. "This whole region is about to explode. Al Qaeda is on the march."

Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight committee which led the Libya hearing last week, said that a façade of security appeared to be more important than actual security.

"We believe they didn't want the appearance of needing the security. We want to put real security ahead of the appearance of not needing security," Issa said.

Issa compared the administration's Middle East foreign policy efforts to President George W. Bush's widely criticized "mission accomplished" announcement of ending major combat operations in Iraq in 2003 aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln.

"We are going through a 'mission accomplished' moment. Eleven years after September 11 [2001], Americans were attacked on September 11 [2012] by terrorists who pre-planned to kill Americans," Issa said. "That happened and we can't be in denial, particularly when there are compounds all over the Middle East that need to be legitimately protected at a level that security professionals ask for."

Issa said he plans to have additional classified briefings - and is likely to call UN Ambassador Susan rice to testify -- and examine country-by-country if additional funding and security is necessary. He said if security concerns are not being heard, "then it isn't just Ambassador Stevens who is now dead, it is everybody who works throughout the Middle East is at risk if we cannot get the security level right."

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the highest ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, responded to Issa and Graham's allegations: "This conspiracy stuff is kind of ridiculous, to be honest with you. And I'm kind of surprised that they've gone to these lengths, but, you know, that's what they do."

Cummings said that the attacks in Libya are being "treated like a political football" and that the hearings were rushed to benefit the Romney campaign.

"The way we're doing it, I think, is basically based on a campaign schedule, trying to give Romney some talking points. But I don't think that our men who were killed deserve this," Cummings said. "I think it's turning into a witch hunt. And we can do better."

(Read more about the latest on Libya in The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, The Daily Beast, New York Magazine, Businessweek, UPI, Financial Times, National Review, Los Angeles Times, The Hill, Politico, Reuters, Huffington Post, Washington Times, Talking Points Memo, Roll Call, and Voice of America)

Don't miss this week's political panel featuring Katrina vanden Heuvel of The Nation, Republican strategist Bay Buchanan, David Corn of Mother Jones, conservative pollster Frank Luntz, and CBS News Political Director John Dickerson.

Watch the full episode of this Sunday's Face the Nation.
  • Lauren Hoenemeyer

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