OTR Interviews

Graham: I wish Pres. Obama would have given Libya attention when it mattered ... it became a 'death trap'

Sen. Lindsey Graham says only Obama can answer the ongoing questions on the Benghazi terror attacks


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," October 30, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Now to Libya. Seven weeks after terrorists attacked our consulate in Benghazi, we still do not have the answers. Senator Lindsey Graham is accusing President Obama of playing politics with national security. Senator Graham joins us. Good evening, sir.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-SC: Good evening. Thank you for having me.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, I want to first talk about a story that Jennifer Griffin broke this evening on "Special Report" with Bret Baier, that a Tunisian is in custody in Tunisia. He was spotted on camera with -- at the consulate at the time of the attack, and then he was -- he was picked up in Turkey as he tried to go -- transfer through an airport there with false papers, turned over to the people of Tunisia, and the American - - and the American authorities have not been able to have access to this man to ask him questions. Your thoughts, sir.

GRAHAM: Well, number one, it would be very disturbing if al Qaeda operatives in Libya can talk to al Qaeda operatives in Tunisia. That shows they have a regional effect. So if a guy from Tunisia was able to come down to Benghazi, Libya, that means they're talking to each other in a way we haven't seen before.

But Tunisia -- I've been there twice since Ben Ali was thrown out, since the revolution. This is where the Arab spring started. I know the prime minister very well. I called the Tunisian embassy tonight. They're going to get back with me tomorrow.

I'm stunned to hear the Tunisians are denying us access to question this man. I find that very disturbing, and quite frankly, hard to believe. And I'm going to call the Tunisian officials and get to the bottom of it.

I'm not so sure we're trying very hard to get to the bottom of it here at home. I think the Obama administration is stonewalling to Congress and misleading the American people. I've written almost a dozen -- half a dozen letters to the administration and haven't heard one word back.

VAN SUSTEREN: So you think that a conversation with the Tunisian authorities will give us access to this man that's in custody?

GRAHAM: Well, I'm going to find out. I'm shocked that they're not giving us access. They've worked very well with the CIA. I'm the ranking Republican on our foreign aid subcommittee on appropriations. You know, we're in charge of the money.

Yes, I'm going to ask the Tunisians why can't we have access to this person that we believe was involved in the attack on our consulate.

And you know, this storm is a terrible thing for America, and I appreciate what President Obama is doing to try to help people. But I wish he'd give some attention in Benghazi, Libya, when it would have mattered. There was an al Qaeda storm brewing for months.

Our consulate was attacked in April, attacked again in June. The British ambassador was attacked in June. The British withdrew. The Red Cross withdrew from Benghazi. They saw the al Qaeda storm brewing and building, and they evacuated. We did not.

We did nothing to reinforce this consulate. It became a death trap. And the president went to a fund-raiser right after this event. And you know, he said he was offended by the criticism. I'm quite frankly offended by this administration not being honest with the American people and sharing any information with Congress.

VAN SUSTEREN: Secretary of Defense Panetta has said -- because there's been some criticism that the United States -- at least it is thought that they didn't respond to some -- the -- some -- some -- some requests for help on the ground. He said something to the effect that we don't send people into danger without knowing the consequence. I know that you're also a member of the military reserves and the U.S. Senate. But I - - you have any thought about that?

GRAHAM: Yes. I think there would be a lot of military members that be shocked to hear that. How many operations have we launched to help comrades in distress not knowing what the outcome would be but knowing that's what we should do?

And here's what the American people don't realize. In June, our consulate was attacked, on June the 6th. They blew a hole in the wall that 40 people could go through. About a week later, the British ambassador's convoy was attacked in Benghazi, Libya. Guess who came to their aid? Lieutenant Colonel Wood, an American military member, a member of the Utah National Guard, part of a security team, left the American consulate to come to the aid of the British ambassador and extracted wounded people out of the convoy while it was being attacked by al Qaeda.

I find it very odd that we can help the British -- and I'm glad we did because they're our best friends in the world. We were able to help them in June, but nobody could help our people on September the 11th? Don't you find that a little odd that we could get to the British convoy in Benghazi, Libya, within 20 minutes of being attacked in June, but we couldn't help them for over seven hours on September the 11th? I find that very disturbing.

VAN SUSTEREN: What's your -- I mean, there's so many unanswered questions, and the -- President Obama has not sat down to answer questions. He's had a couple questions thrown at him...

GRAHAM: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... and he's responded to. But I'm curious. What's going on here?

GRAHAM: I think he's -- I think he's trying to run out the clock. The question -- how many -- there were three requests for assistance. The president told us that he told his people to help those folks, provide assistance. Well, nobody went to their aid. Why not?

Was the president told of the April and June attacks on our consulate? Why did we leave our consulate open when the British and the Red Cross decided to leave Benghazi because it was too dangerous? How did it become a death trap? Why did we deny all the requests for security?

You don't need an independent panel to address that. The president knows whether or not he was informed of the previous attacks in April and June. The president knows whether or not anybody tried to help after he ordered them to help these folks. And the president cannot possibly believe 10 days after this attack this was a riot based on a mob that never existed.

They're not answering my questions or anyone else's questions because I believe they're trying to run out the clock here.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you, sir.

GRAHAM: Thank you.