Sen. Graham: Benghazi Survivors 'Told to Be Quiet'

Susan Jones | March 18, 2013 | 6:29am EDT
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Burned-out building at the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi. (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon)

( - Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) says the Americans who survived the terror attacks in Benghazi, Libya are afraid to talk about what happened on the night of Sept. 11, 2012 when four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed.

"I've had contact with some of the survivors. Their story is chilling," Graham told Fox News on Friday.

"The bottom line is, they feel that they cannot come forward. They've been told to be quiet. And at the end of the day, we can't let this administration or any other administration get away with hiding from the American people and the Congress people who were there in real-time to tell the story.

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"Again, what (U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.) Susan Rice told the American people five days after the attack has collapsed. What the president told the American people for weeks after the attack makes no sense. This was never a spontaneous event caused by hateful video. It was always a preplanned terrorist attack.”

Graham said some of the Benghazi survivors are back at work and some are still recovering from their injuries. He said he will do "everything I can" to get the survivors to testify before Congress -- so the American people can learn firsthand what happened in Benghazi.

"The American people need to hear what happened that night," Graham said. "They need to hear from the people who were on the ground, their desperate situation. They need to understand from the people who were there for months how bad it was getting and how frustrated they were that nobody was listening to them and provide aid when they requested it.

"This is a story of an administration deaf and blind to the reality of what people are living with every day in Libya. It is important that they'd be able to tell their story without reprisal. I think if they get to tell their story without fear, we will understand that during that night, they felt abandoned.

“And they will tell us very clearly that the threats were building for months, and nobody would listen to them. It's imperative that they tell their story."

Graham said if the truth emerges about Benghazi, he believes some people will be fired. He also said the truth would force former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- a possible presidential candidate in 2016 -- "to account for her failures."

Some of the Benghazi survivors will not speak publicly because it would blow their cover. But that's no excuse, Graham added:

"Congress has an oversight rule. If you have a CIA operative and you want to know what happened that night, then do it in a classified setting. Make a record so that we can learn from the mistakes and not repeat them. There are a lot of people there who could testify publicly.

“I'm not asking the administration to turn over witnesses to the Congress, to compromise intelligence. I'm asking the administration to turn over to the Congress and the American people the witnesses, the people who lived through this, so we can learn from our mistakes.

“And quite frankly, they're hiding from the American people and the Congress the primary source of the truth in Benghazi, the people who lived through it.”

Graham said the U.S. was in Benghazi in an attempt to control the weapons that were "flowing freely" there: "We were desperately trying to control the anti- aircraft missiles, the manpads, that were all over Libya, that are now all over the Mideast."

Graham said if the Benghazi survivors do not come forward "in an appropriate way," he will "continue to make life difficult in the Senate."

"And I am begging my House colleagues, if they will not voluntarily release the names of these survivors to the Congress for appropriate interviews to get to the bottom of what happened in Benghazi, that you subpoena them. House Republicans, (Reps.) Jason Chaffetz, Frank Wolf have done a great job. But to our leadership in the House, you're going to have to up your game on Benghazi."

On Friday, a State Department spokesman confirmed that three of its employees and a contractor were injured in the two attacks -- at least one at the U.S. mission where Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed, and at least two at the nearby CIA annex that came under fire hours after the mission was attacked:

"There were three (State Department) security personnel injured, one with smoke inhalation at the temporary mission facility; one at the annex who was seriously injured, and ... another at the annex was less seriously injured, and then we also had a contractor, so that's a total of four," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters.

In a March 1 letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) said a "reliable source" told him that as many as 30 Americans -- including State Department and CIA personnel and government contractors -- may have been injured in the attacks.

The CIA has not said how many employees it had in Benghazi, what they were doing there, or how many may have been injured.

Also see:

State Dept. Publicized Names, Photos of Benghazi Security Detail Before 9/11/12; Suppressed Their Identities Afterward

Former Special Forces Commander: Was U.S. Running Guns to Syrian Rebels Via Benghazi? CIA: No

Former Special Forces Commander: DOD Could Have Flown Rescue Team From Tripoli to Benghazi

WH: Obama Called Hillary on Night of Benghazi Attack--More Than Six Hours After It Started






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