Senator Saxby Chambliss, the ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, anticipates the Senate eventually holding hearings on the Benghazi attacks.
“The people that we mainly need to hear from obviously are the leadership,” the Georgia Republican says in an interview. “After what the president and vice president have come out and said in debates, as well as in press conferences, I want to know what they knew and when they knew it-type thing.”
“I know what we were told, as members of the intelligence committee, and it sounds like from what Joe Biden said the other night, I knew more than what he knew, and if that’s the case, then something’s wrong,” Chambliss adds. What Biden “kept saying was what we were told is what we said.”
“Now if for two weeks after the September 11 attack,” Chambliss says, “they were told that it was a spontaneous reaction to a movie, and if they were not told that this was obviously a terrorist attack ,then I would be significantly bothered by that because the intelligence community knew within 24 hours according to their documents that this was a terrorist attack.”
Chambliss would also like to know who provided Susan Rice with the talking points she used on the five Sunday morning shows she appeared on September 16. “I would be curious to know whether those talking points that were given to her came from inside the White House or whether they came from DNI [Director of National Intelligence], or the CIA,” he remarks.
“My guess,” he continues, “would be that they came from inside the White House, and if they did, that was a huge mistake by the administration. They obviously had not been updated. By the time she went on television that Sunday and was talking about this, the initial report had been revised at least once, maybe even more than once.” By Sunday, Chambliss states, it was known that what had occurred was a “terrorist attack.”
After saying he has “complete confidence in our intelligence community,” Chambliss talked about the state of intelligence in Libya prior to the attack. “I have questioned the intelligence activity inside of Libya for months because we’re the best at what we do to when it comes to getting intelligence and we simply have not been able to much get in the way of intelligence out of Libya for a long period of time and we’ve had to rely on the other folks doing work for us as opposed to us having boots on the ground from an intel standpoint.”
“When this incident happened,” Chambliss remarks, “ It was pretty obvious that we didn’t have any intel on number one, the group that was probably responsible for it, pretty obviously responsible at the time it happened, now we know that’s confirmed but at the time it happened it was pretty obvious that it was a group of terrorists, likely al-Qaeda. And then, secondly, we obviously did not have intelligence with respect to what kind of security was needed to protect our people, so yes, I’ve had some questions of the intelligence community about this for months now.”
The intelligence community has responded to his questions, he says, but he didn’t get “satisfactory answers.”
As far as the Senate hearings go, Chambliss says, “Since the Democrats control the agenda, they’re not going to call for hearings until after we get back, but you bet, we’re going to have hearings.”
Chambliss names Senate Intelligence chair Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) as a Democrat who is “very concerned” about the Benghazi attack. “The members of the intel committee on both sides of the aisle have been concerned about it,” he says.”
“Democrats are concerned about this, too,” he remarks. “This is not a partisan issue at this point.”