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Knoxville News Sentinel - Corker: WH Reaction to Libya Attack "Nothing Short of...Benghazigate" - Suggests Cover Up

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As the Obama Administration continued to amend its story of the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, suggested the White House reaction to the tragedy is scandalous. Corker, in an interview on Fox News, said the Obama administration has "something they're trying to hide or cover up."

After initially blaming the deaths of four American diplomats, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, the White House and the State Department blamed the attack on an unruly mob protesting the trailer for a low-budget film, "The Innocence of Muslims." Only in recent days has the Obama administration begun to admit the attack was carried out by terrorists.

ABC News' Jake Tapper reported today that some administration officials were concerned about the initial White House assertion the attack was spontaneous. "Let's be clear, these protests were in reaction to a video that had spread to the region," Tapper reported White House Press Secretary Jay Carney saying on September 14.

Tapper also reported United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, on September 16, said, "Our current best assessment, based on the information that we have at present, is that, in fact, what this began as, it was a spontaneous - not a premeditated - response to what had transpired in Cairo. In Cairo, as you know, a few hours earlier, there was a violent protest that was undertaken in reaction to this very offensive video that was disseminated."

But Defense Secretary Leon Panetta today said, "As we determined the details of what took place there and how that attack took place it became clear that there were terrorists who had planned that attack." With the ever-shifting White House story, combined with CNN reports that Stevens wrote in his diary that he was concerned about security, Corker has gone looking for answers.

Corker and Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., wrote Secretary of State Hillary Clinton two days ago asking her for copies of cables sent from Stevens to the State Department. Corker told Fox he has heard nothing from Clinton. "This has turned into something nothing short of Benghazigate," Corker said.

A closed-door briefing with the Foreign Relations Committee gave Corker no answers. "It was the most senseless, worthless briefing I've ever attended," Corker said. "The media knows more about what has happened than we do, and we want answers."

Corker said the lack of information is beginning to raise questions on both sides of the aisle. "This has now turned into a very bi-partisan concern," Corker said. "It is my understanding today that all members of the Foreign Relations Committee, both Democrats and Republicans, are asking the administration for answers. For some reason this administration is not coming forth. "

Corker praised Clinton for past transparency. But given Clinton's previous openness, the confusing, changing reaction to the Libya attack heightens Corker's concern. "Something is wrong," Corker said. "Something is up here. We are not getting the basic information most Americans would want us to have."

Corker again called for the cables between Stevens and State. "When four Americans have been killed and we cannot even find out what the communications were between that person and the State Department, something's wrong," Corker said. "As I've watched the response from this administration, there has to be something they're trying to hide or cover up. Again, we just want answers."


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