Lindsey Graham (KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
BY MARY ORNDORFF TROYAN
Gannett Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina urged President Barack Obama on Wednesday to release more information about the deadly attack on the American consulate in Libya, just as he said the White House did after the military operation that killed Osama bin Laden.
"Your administration was active in providing details of that raid to the media and the public," Graham said in a letter to Obama. "However, it is unfair to the American people and the families of the victims of the Benghazi attack to not provide the same level of detailed facts and an accounting for what I consider a major national security failure."
The letter is another escalation in Graham's criticism of the administration's handling of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three others. In it, Graham asks 12 questions about Obama's decision-making before, during and after the attack.
"Can you please account, as you did during the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan, for your actions during the seven plus hours our consulate was under attack?" Graham asked.
White House spokesman Jay Carney was asked a similar question on Nov. 9.
"The president has been very forthright about the moment he found out about it in the Oval Office, in a meeting with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the Defense secretary, that he directed actions be taken immediately to provide support for our embassy facilities, our diplomatic facilities, not just in Benghazi, but also in Tripoli and around the world because of incidents that were happening," Carney said then.
The FBI and an Accountability Review Board set up by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton are conducting investigations of the Benghazi attack, including the adequacy of the response and security at the consulate.
Graham, a key national security and foreign policy voice on Capitol Hill, has emerged as the one of the administration's most persistent critics on the Benghazi issue.
Graham also has said he will block Senate action on United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice if Obama nominates her to replace Clinton as secretary of State. He cited Rice's comments, made soon after the attack, that it was part of a spontaneous response to an anti-Muslim Internet video rather than a planned terrorist act.
Graham said Rice was either uninformed or deliberately misleading.
"Mr. President, our intelligence community had arrived at the conclusion Benghazi was a pre-planned terrorist attack linked to al-Qaeda one day after September 11. How could you not be aware of this development?" Graham said in his letter.