By Mario Trujillo - 12/30/13 09:20 AM EST
A GOP member of the House Intelligence Committee alleged Monday that The New York Times published a story about the Benghazi, Libya, attack in order to advance former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s possible White House bid
Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) described the newspaper report as “totally unsatisfactory and completely false” after it turned up no evidence that al Qaeda, or other “international terrorist groups,” was involved in the attack last year that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
“The reports by the New York Times was — I don’t know why they put it out unless it was for political reasons, but we thoroughly dispute that story as far as the link to al Qaeda,” he said Monday on Fox News.
“Of course Secretary Clinton was in charge at the time, and you know there are just now a lot of rumors going and pushing about her running for president in 2016,” he said. “So I think they are already laying the groundwork.”
He also accused the newspaper of attempting to absolve Clinton and the Obama administration.
“We are not quite as used to this kind of political machine as the president and the Clinton’s have, and so I think they are just laying the groundwork and trying to absolve [Clinton] from the lack of security that was sent over there, the number of requests for security that was turned down,” he said.
The Times report also concluded that the attack was spurred in part by outrage over an anti-Islam video made in the United States — a claim initially pushed by the administration. The administration eventually concluded that it was a planned attack by extremists in the country.
“No. No, the video never came into play,” Westmoreland said.
On Sunday, other members of the Intelligence Committee — including Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) — also pushed back on the report that al Qaeda was not involved.