As per usual on the Sunday morning public affairs, there were a lot of middle-aged U.S. Senators discussing the news of the week today, but the only thing that really pricked our ears up was South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham's call on CBS' Face The Nation that he'll do whatever he can to block Chuck Hagel and John Brennan from being voted on as heads of Defense and CIA respectively, until the Obama administration "comes clean" on what happened last September in Benghazi.
Last month Graham made a similar threat on Meet The Press that outgoing DefSec Leon Panetta testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about Benghazi or he'd hold up Hagel's nomination. Panetta ended up going before that committee last week (with Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey).
“No confirmation without information,” the South Carolina Republican vowed on Sunday, keeping up the pressure that began the week after the September 11, 2012 attack at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya that led to the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
Much of that ire revolves around the explanation by Susan Rice, the Ambassador to the United Nations and others that it was anger at anti-Muslim video that led to the violence. That response was quickly dropped by the White House.
“I don’t think we should allow Brennan to go forward to the CIA directorship, Hagel to be confirmed for secretary of Defense, until the White House gives us an accounting. Did the president even pick up the phone and call anyone in the Libyan government to help these folks?”
And now Graham is saying that the president himself could have saved Stevens or one of the others who died last September.
“Did the president at any time during this eight-hour attack, pick up the phone and call anybody in Libya to get help for these folks? Secretary [Hillary] Clinton said she was screaming on the phone at Libyan officials. There’s no voice in the world like that of the president of the United States. And I do believe if he had picked up the phone and called the Libyan government, these folks could have gotten out of the airport, to the annex and the last two guys may very well be alive and if he did call the Libyan officials and they sort of blew him off, that would effect whether or not I would give foreign aid in the future to Libya. But if he failed to call on behalf of those people under siege, then I think that’s a massive failure of leadership by our commander in chief.”
Later on in the program Democratic Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed said it would "unprecedented and unwarranted" for a Senator to stall a nomination in the fashion that his Republican colleague is talking about.
"I would hope we would have in regular order a hearing and a vote on Senator Hagel and Brennan and then we would bring it to the floor. I can't recall a Secretary of Defense that has not had at least had an opportunity to have their nomination brought before the Senate," referring to the last cabinet selection that was rejected in the Senate, former Texas Republican Senator John Tower, George H.W. Bush's first selection as Defense Secretary in 1989. Tower was presented for a vote - Graham is suggesting that Hagel shouldn't get that chance.
"To dwell on a tragic incident and use that to block people is not appropriate," Reed added that it was an overreaction by Graham.