Obama’s key likely nominations in jeopardy amid criticism on Benghazi | Pakistan Today

Obama’s key likely nominations in jeopardy amid criticism on Benghazi

President Barack Obama’s possible nominations for Secretary of State and CIA Director appeared to be in jeopardy as key Republican critics of the administration’s response to attacks on a US diplomatic post in Libya appeared discontented after meeting Susan Rice and Michael Morell.
Rice, who is US ambassador to UN, is widely expected to be the lead candidate for replacement of Hillary Clinton and Morell, who is acting CIA Director, following David Petraeus’s exit, is reportedly under consideration for leadership of the intelligence agency.
“Bottom line, I’m more disturbed now than I was before,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (Republican from South Carolina), one of the critics, said after the meeting, according to The Washington Post.
Rice and Morell met Tuesday with Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Kelly Ayotte (Republican from New Hampshire), who have led a GOP charge against the administration since the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.
The attack resulted in deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.
According to the Post, Rice and Morell later met separately with Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, an Independent from Connecticut, whose homeland security committee is also probing the attack. The Republican senators have repeatedly said they are concerned with how Rice explained what caused the Benghazi attack during a series of Sept. 16 appearances on Sunday political talk shows. At the time, Rice said that a spontaneous demonstration led to the violence, a claim later debunked by intelligence officials and reports from the ground.
The White House and senior intelligence officials have said that Rice’s statement followed talking points they had approved, including vague wording designed to conceal intelligence information. Rice said that “extremist” elements had participated in the attack, and that the conclusions were preliminary pending FBI investigation.
After meeting with the Republican senators, Rice said there was no intent on her part or on the part of the administration to mislead American citizens.
“In the course of the meeting, we explained that the talking points provided by the intelligence community, and the initial assessment upon which they were based, were incorrect in a key respect: there was no protest or demonstration in Benghazi,” Rice said in a statement. “While, we certainly wish that we had had perfect information just days after the terrorist attack, as is often the case, the intelligence assessment has evolved. We stressed that neither I nor anyone else in the Administration intended to mislead the American people at any stage in this process, and the Administration updated Congress and the American people as our assessments evolved.”
At the White House, Press Secretary Jay Carney later rejected the Republican senators’ charge that Rice and Morell left questions unanswered.
“I would simply say that there are no unanswered questions about Ambassador Rice’s appearances,” on Sept. 16, Carney said. “The questions that remain to be answered, and that the president insists are answered, have to do with what happened in Benghazi, who was responsible for the deaths of four Americans including our ambassador and what steps we need to take to ensure that something like that does not happen again?”
The two officials are also scheduled to meet with Wednesday with Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, who is joining Lieberman in the homeland security panel’s investigation.

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