By Justin Sink - 10/22/12 09:57 PM EDT
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) accused President Obama on Monday of throwing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Central Intelligence Agency "under the bus" in the aftermath of the deadly terrorist attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
On Monday, American officials acknowledged for the first time that the annex hit in the Libya terror attacks that left U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others dead was a CIA facility.
The Washington Post also reported Sunday that the intelligence agency believed originally that the attack was the result of the protest of an anti-Islam film, a point Republicans have seized on to criticize the Obama administration, which has since acknowledged the incident was a terrorist attack.
According to the report in the Post, a briefing document prepared by the CIA on Sept. 15 — the day U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice said the video seemed to have caused the attacks — shows the agency continued to believe as much four days after the attack. The New York Times reported that the CIA was continuing to reconcile information at that point.
But McCain said Monday that the president "is the one responsible" for clearly outlining what happened in the attacks.
"And he told people in the world and in this country that it was a spontaneous demonstration and they kept talking about the hateful video when it was not true," McCain said.
The former Republican presidential nominee said he didn't know "whether to laugh or cry" about reports Rice did not have information that the attacks had been planned by terrorists.
"We knew that you don't take mortars to spontaneous demonstrations ... I don't know whether they were willfully deceiving the American people or whether it was incompetence to the degree that I've never seen the likes of which," McCain said.
McCain went on to say the president is responsible for an "unacceptable screw-up" and Obama should have been aware "that things were deteriorating in Benghazi to a terrible degree."
"By the way, the CIA station chief in Benghazi's first message back was that this was a terrorist attack, and we all knew and they knew that there was an al Qaeda-affiliated organization there," McCain said.