Key House Republican says Obama needs to address Libya attack

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said Sunday that President Obama needs to set the record straight on what happened in the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

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Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said the attack on the consulate was a pre-planned, terrorist action. Rogers said Obama can’t worry about any political damage from the attack, which killed U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

“The president needs to go on TV and set this right. It can’t be about the election. It has to be about an American ambassador who was killed,” Rogers said. “He needs to be out front and leading on this issue. He shouldn’t wait until after November.”

Rogers said it has been confusing trying to follow what the Obama administration believes what happened in Benghazi but the United States needs answers from the White House.

“Americans deserve the truth. They deserve the facts,” Rogers said.

The administration has argued the attack that left Stevens dead came from protests of a previously obscure, anti-Islamic film that had appeared online. Similar protests have erupted in other Islamic countries. 

In Libya, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice and other administration officials have argued militants took the opportunity of the protests to launch a spontaneious attack on the consulate. 

But Rogers and other Republicans insist the attack was premediated and that the administration is overplaying the role of the film. 

The White House has said there is no intelligence that supports the idea that the attack was premeditated, and Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs on Sunday said the administration "absolutely had not" misled over the Libya attack.

Asked about changing versions of the deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya, Gibbs on Fox News Sunday said administration officials released the best information they had at the time.

“Nobody wants to get to the bottom of this more than we do,” Gibbs said.

But GOP senators have also been frustrated with the information from the administration, arguing reporters for The New York Times got a better briefing than they received from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. 

“That is the most useless, worthless briefing I have attended in a long time,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) told reporters after the closed-door session late last week. 

GOP lawmakers were incensed to find many of the details they tried to learn Thursday were in a front-page article in The Times the following morning. “I was very disappointed in the briefing yesterday, too. The bottom line is, we asked questions like, ‘How many people were at the Benghazi consulate?’ You pick up The New York Times and you get a blow-by-blow description of what supposedly went on,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

In his appearance on CNN, Rogers also disagreed with the administration’s decision to buy television ads to run in Pakistan that feature Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton distancing the United States from an anti-Islam movie that has sparked protests across the Middle East. The Michigan lawmaker said that was a mistake by the administration.

“The administration gave credibility to this video that certainly nobody in America has seen and very few across the Middle East,” Rogers said. “I thought it was a horrible idea. It gave credibility.”

This story was posted at 10:09 a.m. and updated at 11:34 a.m.