May 25, 2013
Republican senator threatens to block Obama's CIA nominee
A Republican US senator threatened today to block the confirmation of President Barack Obama's nominee to head the CIA until the administration provides more information to Congress about the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on US facilities in Benghazi, Libya.
Senator Lindsey Graham said his objection was not directed at Obama's CIA nominee - 25-year agency veteran John Brennan - but was an attempt to extract information about the Benghazi attacks from the White House.
"I do not believe we should confirm anyone as Director of the CIA until our questions are answered," Graham said in a statement. Under Senate rules, any senator can put a hold on any nomination, blocking it from moving to a Senate floor vote.
In a written statement, Graham expressed frustration about what he called the "ever changing" stories told by administration officials about who was behind the Benghazi attacks in which four US citizens were killed, including the US ambassador to Libya.
He complained that the officials offered conflicting explanations about why a reference to al Qaeda was deleted from unclassified talking points that the White House used to shape public comments in the days following the attacks on the US diplomatic mission and a CIA base in Libya's second-largest city.
"We were first told the Director of National Intelligence deleted the al Qaeda reference in the talking points because they did not want to let al Qaeda know we were monitoring them," Graham said.
"We were then told the FBI changed the talking points so as not to compromise an ongoing criminal investigation," he said, adding that even later, officials "clarified it was the CIA who had changed the talking points."
"It is imperative we understand who changed the talking points just weeks before a presidential election and why," he said.
Republicans charged the White House with downplaying evidence that the Benghazi attacks were an act of terrorism in the weeks before the Nov. 6 presidential election to boost Obama's contention that the United States was defeating al Qaeda.