Published January 07, 2013
A top Republican senator called Monday for a delay in the confirmation of President Obama's pick for CIA director until more questions are answered on the deadly attack last year on a U.S. consulate in Libya.
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina didn't single out Obama's nominee, John Brennan, for criticism, but he accused the administration of ignoring requests for more information about the Sept. 11 attack, which also targeted a CIA annex in Benghazi.
"I have not forgotten about the Benghazi debacle and still have many questions about what transpired before, during and after the attack on our consulate," Graham said. "In that regard, I do not believe we should confirm anyone as director of the CIA until our questions are answered."
Graham is specifically concerned about U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice's talking points in the days after the attack, when she said that the attack seemed to be "spontaneous" violence growing out of protests over an anti-Islam film. She later admitted that some of that information was incorrect, though she said her comments were based on the information available at the time from the intelligence community.
An independent investigative report commissioned by the State Department faulted the department for failing to adequately protect the consulate. And a followup report by a Senate committee said officials did little to improve security despite clear indications that the region was "flashing red."
Republicans, however, have focused much of their criticism on how administration officials initially explained the attack, suggesting there was a political motive in downplaying the role of terrorism.
Brennan, who worked for 25 years in the CIA, is currently Obama's national counterterrorism adviser. Obama introduced him Monday as his nominee for CIA director, but Brennan faces potential hurdles to confirmation because of past controversial comments and his role in the CIA's past program of so-called enhanced interrogations.
Among Republicans, there also is lingering bad blood over his clashes in early 2010 about the administration's handling of would-be Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Brennan was accused of playing the role of political attack dog at the time, taking to the media to criticize those lawmakers questioning the decision to read the suspect his Miranda rights shortly after he was captured.
And Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who is adamantly opposed to waterboarding and other "enhanced" interrogation techniques, also raised concerns about the Brennan nomination on those grounds.
"I appreciate John Brennan's long record of service to our nation, but I have many questions and concerns about his nomination to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency, especially what role he played in the so-called enhanced interrogation programs while serving at the CIA during the last administration, as well as his public defense of those programs," McCain said, adding that he will consider Brennan's record "very closely."