Senator Jon Kyl thinks that the White House needs to answer additional questions about how the Benghazi attacks were described initially – and why U.N. ambassador Susan Rice described the attack the way she did on the Sunday morning shows.
Nor does Kyl see Hillary Clinton’s “I take responsibility” remark yesterday as get-out-of-jail-free card for the administration.
“In one sense she can take responsibility,” the Arizona Republican says of Clinton, “but that’s only with respect to the security issue. The larger question is the misleading nature of Ambassador Rice’s comments on television five days after the event, and the failure of the administration, that is, to say the White House, to fully explain her comments, which are obviously inaccurate and may have been intentionally misleading by the people who sent her out there to cover all the networks.”
“One way or another,” Kyl continues, “it’s important to find out who made the decision to send Ambassador Rice out, who provided the talking points, and where the information came from. Based upon information that I’m aware of, I find it impossible to believe that the intelligence community would have approved of the comments that she made five days after the event.”
Kyl specifically criticized Rice for talking about the movie. “I am not aware of any evidence that the intelligence community had that identified the cause of the terrorist attack in Benghazi as a film as Ambassador Rice said,” Kyl remarks. On Meet the Press September 16, Rice said, “This is a response to a hateful and offensive video that was widely disseminated throughout the Arab and Muslim world.”
“Moreover, in order to take the kind of action that they wanted to take, public reporting says that within one day it was deemed a terrorist attack so that our government could take the appropriate actions,” Kyl continues. “That was before Ambassador Rice made the comment that she did, and that’s State Department action, according to public reporting, meaning that she should have been well aware of it.”
Saying that he thought it likely that top Obama advisers, like David Axelrod and David Plouffe, were likely determining who went on the Sunday morning shows, Kyl says, “They want to make a political point. And there clearly was a political point made here, or a negative point: that ‘this surely wasn’t the responsibility of the administration, It was this film that caused everything to happen.’ It basically was, everyone suspects here, an effort to set up a straw man, and avoid the real responsibility for what had happened.” And, he continues, “If it was an intentional act to mislead the American people for political reasons, then the entire administration should be taking the responsibility for that.”
Referencing yesterday’s report that the White House was considering striking with drones in Libya, Kyl was dismissive. “When you see pathetic media spin here about how we’re going to go after bad guys with some kind of a drone attack — you don’t talk about those things unless you want to play like you’re a big tough sheriff in town. They don’t even know who they would attack, but by golly, we’re going to do it.” However, if the White House is able to clearly identify who is behind the attacks, Kyl acknowledges that drone strikes may be an appropriate action, depending on other factors.
Kyl would like to see the media ask more questions, but ultimately, thinks it will have to be Congress who investigates.
“The media have in the past have played an effective role at uncovering cover-ups,” he says, “ and there are certainly plenty of people in the intelligence community and in the state department and maybe others who would have reason to dispute the official administration account, and they may come forward. But at the end of the day, it probably is the Congress’ responsibility to hold the kind of hearings that would eventually bring all the facts to light, and the question is would the administration be able to stonewall this for the next three weeks to at least get past the election.”