I have received an influx of constituent inquiries in recent weeks regarding the September 11th attack in Benghazi. After initial reports showed conflicting accounts between the White House and the State Department I released the statement linked here in which I concluded that the variance in accounts provided disturbing evidence of either gross ineptitude or an attempt to willfully mislead the American people. The credibility gap has only widened since that time as more troubling information has reached the American people.
On October 31st my Senate colleagues sent a letter to President Obama, raising questions regarding the timeline of events and the manner in which information was shared. The questions and concerns expressed in that letter are shared by many of my constituents, who have understandably been demanding answers via telephone calls, emails, letters, and every other form of communication.
My colleagues added in their letter that this is not the first letter they've sent on the subject, nor will it be the last. I support them in their efforts because the American people have a right to know the truth and the President has a responsibility to provide answers.
In addition to the questions raised by my colleagues, I would like to add the following questions, many of which I have been asked by my constituents.
The Secretary of Defense has stated that it was his decision, along with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to not send immediate assistance. Was the President involved in this decision, despite his insistence that he gave the command to evacuate our personnel?
The Secretary of State has taken responsibility for any State Department missteps during the assault. Was it her decision to maintain such a low level of security in such a hostile location? Was it her decision to ignore the August 15th diplomatic cable that warned that the consulate could not withstand a "coordinated attack?'
The State Department has provided a detailed account of events in a thorough briefing, which includes the statement that the State Department was never under the impression that the attack was related to an offensive video. If that was not the conclusion of the State Department, who came to that conclusion and why? With this event and others like it, where does the buck stop?
The American people deserve answers to these questions.
In the next few weeks there will be hearings and briefings on Capitol Hill that will clarify exactly what happened. I am encouraged that Americans are aware and are forcefully demanding answers from those they have elected to lead them. It's been over 40 days since Ambassador Chris Stevens, Tyrone Woods, Glen Doherty, and Sean Smith were killed in a deadly terrorist attack. The questions being asked pertain to our national security, to the safety and effectiveness of our diplomatic missions around the world, and to the leadership capacity of our elected officials.
I echo the demand of the American people and the demands of my colleagues (Senators Graham, McCain, Ayotte and Johnson) for information. While the answers to these questions may be troubling, they will not be nearly as troubling as continued silence from this Administration.