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CNN "Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees" - Transcript

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SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Well, the thing I think of interesting news today is that e-mails were going back to the State Department and being distributed throughout the upper levels of government that this attack was taking place and it was probably by al Qaeda.

And so, again, that brings into question, what did the president know and when did he know it and what did he do about it, both before, during, and after? And that's why Senator Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte and I issued a letter today. The president needs to go and talk to the American people. He need talk to the American people and tell them exactly what happened. There's huge confusion and contradictions.

COOPER: Secretary Clinton talked about this today. I just want to play what she had to say.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The independent accountability review board is already hard at work looking at everything, not cherry-picking, you know, one story here or one document there, but looking at everything, which I highly recommend as the appropriate approach to something as complex as an attack like this.

You know, posting something on Facebook is not in and of itself evidence.

COOPER: And she's referencing that in one of these e-mails, one of the personnel in Libya said that this group Ansar al-Sharia was claiming responsibility on Facebook and on Twitter and later on they went on to deny responsibility. So your response to what she said?

MCCAIN: Well, first of all, on that particular issue, it is very clear that that organization, which is al Qaeda-affiliated, were the orchestrators of attack.

My only response is facts are stubborn things. There are certain facts that we know. We know that there were attacks on the consulate in April and June. We know the British ambassador was attacked. We know the British Consulate was closed. We know that there were warnings and there were requests for additional security.

Didn't the president know those things? And then, of course, the days after, the days after the attack, when the U.N. ambassador kept coming out and saying it was a hate-filled video that inspired the demonstrations, there was no demonstrations. In other words, facts are stubborn things. Everybody knows now there was no demonstration.

So I'm all for a thorough and complete investigation, but certain facts are known and there continues to be contradictions within the government. And we now find out, we members of Congress, rather than being briefed, we find out from the news media.

We went to a briefing, and with all due respect -- and I'm a great admirer of the secretary of state -- as you know, before we went out of session. And they told us nothing, absolutely nothing. And the very next day, the ticktock of the attack, which, by the way, lasted seven hours, was in both "The Wall Street Journal" and "The New York Times."

So they're not telling members of Congress who have some oversight responsibilities. And, again, there are certain facts which are indisputable. And so for us to all wait and reserve judgment is frankly -- and I will right now, Anderson, bet you a dollar to a donut that the results of this review board will not be made public, they will not be able to complete their assigned task until after November 6. What do you bet?

COOPER: Do you see this as an intelligence failure? Do you see it as a willful misleading of the American public? Do you see it as both or neither?

MCCAIN: I think it's either willfully misleading the American people, to interrupt the narrative we got bin Laden and al Qaeda's on the run -- by the way, al Qaeda is not on the run. They are all over North Africa and northern Mali. They're doubled in Iraq, et cetera.

And so it interfered with that rhetoric. So they're either misleading or the degree of incompetence and lack of acting on existing information such as the previous attacks on the consulate in Benghazi, for example, is absolute, total incompetence.

COOPER: Senator McCain, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

MCCAIN: Always good to be with you.

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