White House Objects to Blocking CIA Nomination Over Benghazi

January 8, 2013 - 5:56 PM

jay carney

White House spokesman Jay Carney (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – The White House called any plans to delay the confirmation of John Brennan to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency “unfortunate” and “highly politicized.”

“It would be unfortunate I think if in pursuit of this issue, which was highly politicized, the Senate would hold up the nomination of John Brennan to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.

“As the president said yesterday, that post as well as the position of Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, these are essential positions that need to be filled if possible without delay and that is why he called on the Senate to act promptly to hold the necessary confirmation hearings and to give each nominee a fair hearing and then a vote.

One day after President Barack Obama announced the nomination of Brennan to head the CIA, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a member of the Armed Services Committee, said a new leader of the agency should not be confirmed until the administration answers questions surrounding the terrorist killing of four Americans at the U.S. compound in Benghazi, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

“I have not forgotten about the Benghazi debacle and still have many questions about what transpired before, during and after the attack on our consulate,” Graham said in a statement.

“In that regard, I do not believe we should confirm anyone as Director of the CIA until our questions are answered – like who changed Ambassador Susan Rice’s talking points and deleted the references to Al-Qaeda? My support for a delay in confirmation is not directed at Mr. Brennan, but is an unfortunate, yet necessary action to get information from this Administration,” Graham added.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice used talking points from the intelligence community when she did interviews on Sunday morning news programs five days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in Libya. In each interview, Rice claimed the attack was the result of a spontaneous demonstration in response to a YouTube video.

Rice took herself out of consideration to be the next secretary of State late last year because of her misinformation.

Graham said he has gotten too much conflicting information from Director of National

Intelligence James Clapper, Acting CIA Director Michael Morrell, and Rice.

“We were first told the Director of National Intelligence deleted the al Qaeda reference in the talking points because they did not want to let al Qaeda know we were monitoring them,” Graham said.

“We were then told the FBI changed the talking points so as not to compromise an ongoing criminal investigation. Finally, during a meeting with Ambassador Rice and acting-CIA Director Morrell, I was told it was the FBI who changed the talking points. However, later in the day the(y) clarified it was the CIA who had changed the talking points.

“This ever-changing story should be resolved,” Graham continued. “It is imperative we understand who changed the talking points just weeks before a presidential election and why. The stonewalling on Benghazi by the Obama Administration must come to an end.”

Asked about Graham’s statement during the White House daily press briefing, Carney said the question was addressed.

“This question was answered I believe in briefings on the hill,” Carney said. “Secondly, because the process was one of declassifying classified information, and in that process the talking points that were provided to Ambassador Rice to members of Congress and to others, including myself and the executive branch, were written in the way that was presented by Ambassador Rice.”

“On the first point, it would be unfortunate I think if in pursuit of this issue, which was highly politicized, the Senate would hold up the nomination of John Brennan to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency,” Carney continued.

“As the president said yesterday, that post as well as the position of Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, these are essential positions that need to be filled if possible without delay and that is why he called on the Senate to act promptly to hold the necessary confirmation hearings and to give each nominee a fair hearing and then a vote,” he said.

“While it’s not worth going into in great detail, we certainly discussed a lot last year, late in the year, the essential irrelevance of the issue of what was said on a series of Sunday shows to what actually happened in Benghazi,” he said. “And this president is committed to ensuring that those who were responsible for the deaths of four Americans in Libya be brought to justice.”