US Sen Lindsey Graham
US Sen Lindsey GrahamReuters

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham has vowed to block votes on nominations for heads of the CIA and the Department of Defense until President Barack Obama tells the country what he was doing during the eight hour period the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was under attack.

In a nationally broadcast interview this week on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” the South Carolina Republican said until the White House explains its talking points following the Libya attack, he will place a hold on the confirmation votes for the nominees, an action he legally can take as a Senate member.

The move affects Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, whose controversial nomination for Secretary of Defense is being scrutinized by pro-and anti-Israel lawmakers, and John Brennan, who is under consideration for the position of director of the CIA.

Graham said that as then-Senator Joe Biden urged in a 2005 letter sent prior to voting on the nomination of former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, he too will press his colleagues to insist, “No confirmation without information” – including details on the president’s activities during the attack. 

“I’m not going to stop until we get to the bottom of it,” Graham told the interviewer. “We know nothing about what the president did on the night of September 11, during a time of national crisis, and the American people need to know what their Commander-in-Chief did – if anything – during the eight-hour attack.

“... I don’t know what the president did that evening,” the senator went on. “I don’t know if he ever called anyone.

“I know he never talked to the secretary of defense. I know that he never talked to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs... I know the Secretary of State never talked to the Secretary of Defense.

“This was incredibly mismanaged. And what we know now, it seems to be a very disengaged president,” Graham said.

On the night of September 11, 2012, the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked by Al Qaeda terrorists. Both buildings in the compound were torched, and four American diplomats were killed. Among them was U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, who had repeatedly requested increased security for the site during the prior half year.