Senators Troubled Following Meeting With Ambassador Rice
WASHINGTON ¬- U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), John McCain (R-Arizona), and Kelly Ayotte (R-New Hampshire) said the following in response to the White House's statement today that ‘there are no unanswered questions' about Ambassador Rice's September 16 Sunday show appearances and the talking points she used.
"We respectfully disagree with the White House's statement today that ‘there are no unanswered questions' about Ambassador Rice's September 16 Sunday show appearances and the talking points she used.
"Around 10:00 this morning in a meeting requested by Ambassador Rice, accompanied by acting CIA Director Mike Morell, we asked Mr. Morell who changed the unclassified talking points to remove references to al-Qaeda. In response, Mr. Morell said the FBI removed the references and did so to prevent compromising an ongoing criminal investigation. We were surprised by this revelation and the reasoning behind it.
"However, at approximately 4:00 this afternoon, CIA officials contacted us and indicated that Acting Director Morell misspoke in our earlier meeting. The CIA now says that it deleted the al-Qaeda references, not the FBI. They were unable to give a reason as to why.
"We are disturbed by the Administration's continued inability to answer even the most basic questions about the Benghazi attack and the Administration's response.
"Beyond Ambassador Rice's misstatements, we continue to have questions about what happened in Benghazi before, during, and after the attack on our consulate - as well as the President's statements regarding the attack.
"Perhaps most important, we also need to understand why the U.S. military was unable to respond within seven hours to save American lives in Benghazi and why our consulate was left so unsecure despite a series of previous attacks.
In more than a dozen letters, we and other Senators have repeatedly requested that the Administration provide answers to our questions. Yet, today most of them remain unanswered. We eagerly await their response."