Lawmakers express concern over Obama administration's handling of Libya attack in letter

Catherine Herridge reports from Washington, D.C.


Key House members have sent a letter to President Obama expressing concerns about the events surrounding the terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya that killed four Americans, including the U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens. 

The letter, which was obtained by Fox News, says many questions were left unanswered about the Sept. 11 attack in last week's intelligence briefing for lawmakers by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

The letter also criticizes the administration's handling of the aftermath of the attack, particularly its characterization of the attack as an out-of control protest rather than an act of terror against the U.S. 

Slamming the response to the attack as a "pre-9/11 mindset," they ask the Obama administration what it plans to do to protect other U.S. interests abroad from being targeted. 

"Clearly, the threat from Al Qaeda and affiliated groups has metastasized; yet we do not appear to be learning from the past," the letter states.

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The lawmakers who signed the letter include House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Rogers, R-Ky., Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. McKeon, R-Calif., Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Rep. Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla. and Judicary Committee Chairman Rep. Smith, R-Texas, among others.

The lawmakers state they would like the Obama administration to release additional information  regarding the intelligence leading up to the Libya attack and the security at the embassy, the role former Guantanamo Bay detainees may have played, and plans for the way forward in Libya and the region. They say they are willing to return from Congress' recess for a new hearing focusing on their concerns.

"We place significant weight on our constitutional responsibility to conduct appropriate oversight even when Congress is not in session and stand ready to return to Washington," the letter states.

The House members' letter comes after three prominent Republican senators sent a letter to the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice Tuesday, insisting she admit whether she intentionally misled the public when she said the attack appeared to be "spontaneous" on several talk shows.

Sens. John McCain, Arizona; Lindsey Graham, South Carolina; and Kelly Ayotte, New Hampshire, in a letter to Rice, specifically asked if she knew about a video and other intelligence that appeared to foretell the attack, but still told the American public the attacks appeared to be a “spontaneous reaction” to an early attack in Egypt. 

“We look forward to a timely response that explains how the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations could characterize an attack on a U.S. consulate so inaccurately five days after a terrorist attack that killed four Americans,” the senators said in the letter.

Fox News' Chad Pergram contributed to this report.