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Graham on Brennan, Hagel: ‘No confirmation without information’

Remarks begin at 0:53 mark.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday threatened to hold President Obama’s nominees to head the CIA and Defense department unless the administration provides him with more answers on the response to the Benghazi Consulate attack.

“I don’t think we should allow [John] Brennan to go forward for the CIA directorship, [former Sen. Chuck] Hagel [R-Neb.] to be confirmed secretary of Defense until the White House gives us an accounting,” said Graham on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “Did the White House ever pick up the phone and call anyone in the Libyan government to help these folks?”

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Pressed by host Bob Schieffer if he would put a hold on the nominations until the White House provided more information, Graham responded “yes.”

“I’m going to ask my colleagues, just like they did with John Bolton.” said Graham. “No confirmation without information.”

Graham said a special response team had been deployed from Tripoli to Benghazi the night of the attack to provide assistance but was held up by Libyan officials at the airport. Graham said he wanted to know if Obama intervened and contacted Libyan authorities to allow the rescue team to head to the consulate.

“Did the president ever pick up the phone and call the Libyan government and say let those people out of the airport, they need to get to the annex to protect our people under siege?,” he asked.

“We know nothing about what the president did during the night of Sept. 11 during a night of national crisis,” said Graham.


Graham said that if Obama had called he believes American lives could have been saved. He added that if Obama had called and Libyan officials “blew him off,” that would hurt their ability to receive foreign aid in the future.

“I don’t know what the president did that evening, I don’t know if he called anyone,” Graham said. “This was incredibly mismanaged. What we know now seems to be a very disengaged president.”

Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) also appearing on the same show called Graham’s decision “unprecedented.”

“To dwell on a tragic incident and use that to block people is not appropriate,” said Reed. “To ask legitimate questions is completely appropriate, but to turn around and say I’m going to block two key members of the president’s cabinet. I don’t think that’s appropriate, I don’t think that’s warranted, I think it’s an overreaction.”

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey on Thursday testified before the Senate on the September attack in Libya which claimed the lives of four Americans.

Republican lawmakers have questioned if the administration ignored requests for heightened security at the compound and if the White House sought to downplay terror links in the aftermath of the deadly assault.

Dempsey said that the Pentagon had received no request for additional security had been made before attack. Panetta added that the U.S. had no evidence of a specific credible threat to the consulate before Sept. 11.