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Graham:White House Either 'Misleading' or 'Incompetent' on Libya

Sen. Graham accused the Obama administration of “misleading the American people” about the nature of the attack on U.S. Consulate in Libya.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 10/15/2012, 6:21 PM

attack in Libya
attack in Libya
Reuters

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) accused the Obama administration of either “misleading the American people” about the nature of the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya or of being “incredibly incompetent” in dealing with its aftermath.

Graham, speaking on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, said he was told by members of the intelligence community who are on the ground in Libya that the administration knew "within 24 hours" that the attacks in Benghazi, which resulted in the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, were coordinated and conducted by an al Qaeda-associated group.

Graham said that there is "overwhelming" evidence that the assault was not the result of spontaneous protests over the anti-Islam film that turned violent, as the Obama administration had suggested, but that it was a "sustained attack that lasted for six or eight hours, using heaving weapons."

Five days after the attack, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice said on "Face the Nation" that there is no evidence "at present" that proves the attack was "premeditated or preplanned."

Days after Rice’s remarks, the Obama administration admitted that the attack was, in fact, an act of terrorism.

Graham said the Obama administration is "trying to sell a narrative" that fits into its message that al Qaeda is on the decline.

"They're trying to sell a narrative, quite frankly, that the Middle East, the wars are receding and al Qaeda's been dismantled," Graham said. "I think they have been misleading us, but it finally caught up with them."

"[T]he truth is, we're not safer. Al Qaeda is alive. Bin Laden may be dead, [but] al Qaeda is alive, and they're counter-attacking throughout the entire region," he said.

The senator went on to call Libya "exhibit A of a failed foreign policy."

"And the truth is that the foreign policy choices of President Obama is allowing the region to come unraveled," he added.

Graham said Iraq hosts twice the number of al Qaeda operatives since the U.S. left, and cited Iran's use of Iraqi airspace to deliver weapons in Syria, and the massacre of Syrian citizens by its leader, President Bashar al-Assad, as signs.

"The whole region s about to explode; al Qaeda is on the march," he concluded.