Republican Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock is renewing his call for a full investigation into the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya, after suggesting that the Obama administration is engaged in a cover-up.
The Obama administration is still investigating the September attack in Benghazi, which resulted in the death of a U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other foreign service members. A suspect has been detained and is being questioned in Tunisia, but Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has asked for patience as a board review continues to unfold.
Republican leaders and candidates have pounced on the issue, however, and questioned whether the president could have provided more help ahead of the attack. Other critics point to a series of e-mails suggesting the White House was made aware of the details of the attacks that linked the assault to terror groups instead of a controversial YouTube video.
In a telephone interview with WFPL a week before Election Day, Mourdock suggests that the Democratic-controlled Senate is sitting on the investigation until after the election, and alleges the White House is intentionally looking the other way.
“This is a matter of the vital security interest of the United States. We’ve had four Americans, including a United States ambassador assassinated,” Mourdock said. “But still we don’t know what the story is because obviously the White House is sitting on a cover-up.”
Mourdock said the new information about the attack is troubling, and he is disappointed in the silence of Rep. Joe Donnelly, his Democratic opponent for the senate seat.
“This is a great time for Joe Donnelly to show some bipartisanship and join me as a Republican to call for his party that runs the U.S. Senate to have these hearings and have the investigation. And if Congressman Donnelly wont’ buck his party leadership before an election he’ll certainly never do it afterwards,” Mourdock said.
Mourdock is calling for an immediate probe by the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee to delve into requests made by the consulate for additional security.
The House Oversight Committee led by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Ca., has already launched a probe into the attack, seeking more information from the Obama administration to explain its security decisions. Last week, sources told Fox News that a request for military back-up was “denied by the CIA chain of command”, but the agency has said that report is false.
President Obama has rebuffed suggestions of deliberately hiding information from the public, and said in a recent interview that he takes offense to any suggestion that his administration is trying to do so.
Some political observers have suggested the GOP is trying to ratchet up the controversy in the days ahead of a close presidential race.
From The National Journal:
No evidence has surfaced so far to support the idea that the Obama administration deceived the public deliberately. On Wednesday a new spate of stories emerged, quoting unclassified e-mails sent to the White House and State Department only hours after the attacks that indicate the extremist Libyan militia Ansar al-Sharia had asserted responsibility.
“Smoking gun!” Jennifer Rubin, a conservative blogger, tweeted. “The White House cover story—namely that CIA got it all wrong and the White House (in urging us to believe the murder of four Americans was the result of a video riot gone bad) was telling us what it knew, when it knew—has been severely undercut,” she added on her blog. “Three e-mails sent to the White House within two hours of the attack identify it as a terrorist operation and inform the White House that local jihadists with al-Qaida connections claimed responsibility.”
But that story doesn’t hold up well either. The e-mails in question contained nothing more than “raw” intelligence, uncorroborated and unverified, that often flows in after an event. Intelligence officials typically don’t deliver their assessments until they have “finished” reports based on multiple sources, and corroborated evidence, and Obama officials such as Rice certainly would not have been out in front of the TV cameras citing raw intelligence.
And as the government’s most senior officials say, the Benghazi case has taken them a long time to finish. “People forget that a Palestinian group was the first to claim credit for 9/11,” the intelligence official said. “There was no message from the field in those first hectic days that would have eliminated questions or proven who was behind the attack.”
In response to Mourdock’s Senate probe, the Donnelly campaign says they support the White House and State Department investigation.
“This is ‘my way or the highway’ politics at its worst,” said Donnelly campaign spokeswoman Elizabeth Shappell. “Joe supports the ongoing investigations and an all-out effort to capture or kill the terrorists who did this. Richard Mourdock is trying to distract from the fact that his extreme positions are out of step with Hoosier voters.”