Graham threatens to hold up CIA director confirmation
January 8th, 2013
01:21 PM ET
2 years ago

Graham threatens to hold up CIA director confirmation

(CNN) – Saying he has "not forgotten about the Benghazi debacle," Sen. Lindsey Graham called for a delay in the confirmation process of John Brennan, the president's choice for CIA director, as investigations still continue surrounding the September 11, 2012 U.S. consulate attack in Libya.

"I do not believe we should confirm anyone as Director of the CIA until our questions are answered," Graham said in a statement.

The Republican senator from South Carolina has helped lead congressional efforts to address the deadly attack in Libya. He was one of several Republican senators who sharply questioned U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice and her role in the aftermath of the violence.

Days after the incident, Rice appeared on television news shows and described on the violence as a spontaneous attack spurred by outrage over an anti-Islam film. The intelligence community, however, later called it a terrorist attack.

Rice used unclassified talking points from the intelligence community in her television appearances, which apparently went through multiple drafts before landing in her hands. In briefings to Congress, intelligence officials said the initial draft was more specific in linking individuals to 'al Qaeda.' But when the document was sent to the rest of the intelligence community for review, there was a decision to change 'al Qaeda' to a broader term of 'extremists' for the final version.

While some members of Congress said the reason for changing the term was unclear, a senior U.S. official familiar with the drafting of the talking points said the change was made for legitimate intelligence and legal reasons, not for political purposes.

"First, the information about individuals linked to al Qaeda was derived from classified sources," the official said. "Second, when links were so tenuous – as they still are – it makes sense to be cautious before pointing fingers so you don't set off a chain of circular and self-reinforcing assumptions. Third, it is important to be careful not to prejudice a criminal investigation in its early stages.

When former CIA director David Petraeus testified, he also said the unclassified talking points did not make mention of extremist elements because it was still classified – and could have compromised intelligence sources, according to several Democrats who were briefed.

While Rice withdrew her name last month from consideration for secretary of state, questions from Capitol Hill continue and Hillary Clinton, the nation's top diplomat, is expected to testify before she leaves her job as secretary of state.

She was scheduled to so in December but canceled after suffering a concussion. Clinton was later hospitalized with a blood clot but was discharged last week. She returned to work Monday.

As for Brennan, an intelligence committee staffer said the hearing is expected to be held late January or early February. The upper chamber is currently in recess until January 21.

Graham's communications director, Kevin Bishop, said the senator has "not placed a hold on the nomination yet" but added it was "a real possibility." He said Clinton's testimony is separate from the issue and reiterated Graham's call for a select committee to be set up to investigate the Benghazi incident.

The decision, Bishop said, is contingent upon Graham getting the information he has requested.

"Who changed Ambassador Susan Rice's talking points and deleted the references to Al-Qaeda?" he said, adding the various answers he has thus far received (Read the full statement below).

"This ever-changing story should be resolved. It is imperative we understand who changed the talking points just weeks before a presidential election and why. The stonewalling on Benghazi by the Obama Administration must come to an end," he said.

Graham, who serves on the Armed Services Committee, stressed that a delay is "not directed" at Brennan but that such a step may be "necessary action" to get more details from the administration about its handling of the aftermath.

– CNN's Pam Benson, Kate Bolduan and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.

Statement on the Confirmation of the Director of the CIA

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) released the following statement on the confirmation of John Brennan as Director of the CIA.

Graham said:

"I have not forgotten about the Benghazi debacle and still have many questions about what transpired before, during and after the attack on our consulate.

"In that regard, I do not believe we should confirm anyone as Director of the CIA until our questions are answered – like who changed Ambassador Susan Rice's talking points and deleted the references to Al-Qaeda? My support for a delay in confirmation is not directed at Mr. Brennan, but is an unfortunate, yet necessary action to get information from this Administration.

"I have tried – repeatedly – to get information on Benghazi but my requests have been repeatedly ignored.
"We were first told the Director of National Intelligence deleted the Al-Qaeda reference in the talking points because they did not want to let al Qaeda know we were monitoring them. We were then told the FBI changed the talking points so as not to compromise an ongoing criminal investigation. Finally, during a meeting with Ambassador Rice and acting-CIA Director Morrell, I was told it was the FBI who changed the talking points. However, later in the day the clarified it was the CIA who had changed the talking points.

"This ever-changing story should be resolved. It is imperative we understand who changed the talking points just weeks before a presidential election and why. The stonewalling on Benghazi by the Obama Administration must come to an end."


Filed under: John Brennan • Libya • Lindsey Graham • Senate • Susan Rice
soundoff (66 Responses)
  1. PC

    Can someone let the Republicans know that they lost again? This nonsense with Susan Rice and now Brennan is simply childish – I lost, now I am going to make you pay for beating me. What a joke. Are these people so insulated from the rest of us that they simply are unaware of how idiotic they look?

    January 8, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  2. Jean2

    What in happening to Linsey Grahm????

    January 8, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  3. rs

    Okay- its official: Republicans are USELESS. Actually, they are worse than useless. They exist only to make things worse.

    January 8, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  4. Lenny Baker

    Lindsay Graham needs to sit down some where. No matter what President Obama do, Graham has a problem with it.

    January 8, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  5. J'Cincinnati'Redd

    We republicans continue to shoot ourself in the foot.soon we will nolonger have feet. If you want Clinton that bad just come out and say it. rice said her info came from the 7th floor,thats Clintons,floor. so.....make your move big man! u and mcain had no problem shouting Rice, name.

    January 8, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  6. mking

    This dude just doesn’t quit. Where was he when asking for Iraq and the WMD’s? Yeah he was quiet supporting his up party. Let the political games end and move on ... what does it matter 4 people dead or 4ooo dead from WMD's.

    If I was read I would hold a vote to stop the filibuster in the senate now and put this working with racist idiots to bed.

    January 8, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    from the article:

    "I do not believe we should confirm anyone as Director of the CIA until our questions are answered," Graham said in a statement.
    --------------
    Didn't he already question the head of the CIA? What happens when or if there is a major crisis? One that was aggravated by the lack of a CIA Director?

    January 8, 2013 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  8. Marie MD

    Hey ms lindsey, the elections are over. I would say grow a pair and go think of another way to obstruct the country but you are such a silly little girl yiu wouldn't know nor do you have cojones. Go retire with your buddy mcnasty and beaten wife ayotte. Three peas in a pod!

    January 8, 2013 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  9. Woman In California

    Graham, who serves on the Armed Services Committee, stressed that a delay is "not directed" at Brennan but that such a step may be "necessary action" to get more details from the administration about its handling of the aftermath

    -----–
    I would love to take some "necessary action" against this racist hick. Who the h*!! does he think he is anyway? Even if there were no Benghazi incident, this hick would find a reason to TRY and make trouble where there is none, just because he can't stand the fact a half black man is in the White House. Both Graham and McCain are two of the biggest reasons the president won reelection and I hope both of them reap everything they sow, and end up on the hands of those "takers/minorities" whom they go out of their way everyday to trample on.

    January 8, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  10. Gurgyl

    This sob looks like a drunkard. Brainless idiot needs to go home. Drive these GOP thugs in 2014. Nation benefits. God bless.

    January 8, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  11. V

    Any elected official who states they plan to stand in the way of Government getting it's work done, should be ejected from their position and tried for treason. We did not send these people to Washington to stop the process and they need to be reminded of that.

    I believe we need a non-political committee of average voters who represent all 50 states and let them make the rules for Congress and the Senate. It is getting ridiculous how these clowns operate. Just like a bunch of spoiled children who throw a tantrum or make idle threats (I'm going to run away from home) to try and get their way. My suggestion would be to send Mr. Graham home!! He does not play well with others.

    January 8, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  12. demogoat

    Senator Graham, you have become the boy who cried woof once to often, blah, blah, blah is all we hear you say anymore. Sad, I once respected you. Your buddy Senator McCain is the same way.

    January 8, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  13. roro

    Who died and left this spotlight-grabbing jackhole king? Who cares what he has to say? He just likes to hear the sound of his own voice while he's doing everything he can to obstruct everyone and everything Obama related.

    January 8, 2013 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  14. lolo

    My question is why do they keep voting these old farts into office. He was quiet when bush appointed the neo conservatives to the supreme court, but every person President Obama picks they try to block. Graham is as racist as they come along with McConnell. I am from S.C. and the people there are sneaky racist. They actual still think that they own black people. True statement.

    January 8, 2013 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  15. joe d

    bend over for AIPAC Lindsey..they got your number you low-life israel first traitor .. 8% approved AIPAC congress are all kumbaya when it comes to the toilet called israel but when it come to Americans, SS, Medicare, Storm Sandy releif they give us the finger...the pigs made it legal to take bribes from dirt-bags in israel, the AIPAC pigs in congress should be hung for treason..they are traitors and by far not A-M-E-R-I-C-A-N-S

    January 8, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  16. Wake up People!

    Let me give you a little bit of advice Mr. President. Please tell Lindsey Graham, John McCain and the rest of the obstructionists to do the same thing Boehner told Harry Reid to do. Also please call John Kerry and let him know Susan Rice will be your SoS. I am sick to damn death of these people. How in the he!! did these incompetent idiots get elected in the first place. Is the only requirement to have pale skin??

    I'm sick to death of the GOP. It's apparent they plan on throwing tantrums for the next 4 years. People stop electing these traitors simply because they are white.

    January 8, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  17. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I thought he was going after Hagel, but really, who cares who this idiot goes after.Graham is an irrelevant clown from the South who is "smelling himself" for absolutely NO reason!
    Who is he? What has he done besides make a fool out of himself alongside McShame the Singing Canary? Old, pompous coots full of themselves and crap.

    January 8, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  18. littlej456

    Lindsay Graham, (R-South Carolina) seems to be a naysayer for anything and everything President Obama suggests. He's still talking about Bengazi, which no one wants to hear about anymore, it's over. Perhaps he feels he can influence Republican Congressman, since he belong to a group of Democrats (the Senate).
    It makes one wonder if lawmakers like Graham haven't noticed that the color of a person's (a President's) skin is not relevant anymore!! And that's his reason for being so negative when the President says anything.

    January 8, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  19. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    "Who changed Ambassador Susan Rice's talking points and deleted the references to Al-Qaeda?" he said,
    -------------------------------------------------
    Who changed her talking points?
    Who changed your hearing aid?
    CNN rabble-rousing at its' best.
    Here they come.....

    January 8, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  20. simp

    This troll needs to go back to his bridge and stay under it. What a evil, hateful, hateful loser he is. Face it you LOST stop trying to bring up stuff that you think will hurt the President. You are only gonna get what the President and the intellengence agency is going to get you, sit down and shut your pie hole!!!

    January 8, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  21. ST

    Do anyone gets the way of thinking of Lindsey Graham? Let us our other Embassies be attacked, let us put our entire security in jeopardy so long as Benghazi attack is not solved yet. What kind of thinking is that one? Does this man even deserve to show up his face?? I have a lot of doubts.

    January 8, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  22. chilly g

    he is up for reelection soon and is doing this to try to help his reelection campaign and will proably win because
    the peoples he repersent is goog old boys and southern girls. him and mccain are sore loser and just try to
    be difficult for president.

    January 8, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  23. Joi Gibson

    Did I miss something? I thought there was already a report about what happened in Benghazi. I do not think holding up a nomination is necessary. This just seems like more political posturing on the part of Lindsey Graham.

    January 8, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  24. sonny chapman

    Who died & left him boss ?

    January 8, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  25. rs

    So, Senator Lindsay Graham [R] will threaten to filibuster the nomination of John Brennan for Secretary of State over the non-event of Benghazi, and Susan Rice's statements on the same even though:

    *John Brennan had nothing to do with Benghazi or Susan Rice;
    *That Susan Rice had nothing to do with Benghazi, or any policy thereof.
    *Or, that when the CIA and State attempted to brief the aggrieved GOP Senators, they didn't show up, instead holding a TV presser to complain about not getting answers to the questions (that they didn't ask).

    Senator Graham is simply abusing his power as a Senator to obstruct, and delay the appointment of another Cabinet-level Secretary to no end other than he can do so. His reasoning for this filibuster makes no sense whatsoever.

    Graham just made the single best argument for filibuster reform and to once again demonstrate what a joke the Republican Party has become. They literally are a now cancer on America.

    January 8, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
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