With information about the deaths of four Americans still forthcoming nearly half-a-year after a terrorist attack in Benghazi claimed their lives, Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) is suggesting that the truth is being concealed by a “massive cover-up."
Sen. McCain, a ranking member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services and a former presidential hopeful, made his remarks during Sunday’s edition of the CBS television program Meet the Press. Sen. McCain was asked about the confirmation hearings for defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel on the show when he opened up about the September 11, 2012 incident in Benghazi that left four Americans dead, including US Ambassador Chris Stevens. Sen. McCain has expressed contention in confirming the Obama nominee because in part of Mr. Hagel’s lack of explanation regarding the attack. When asked by Meet the Press host David Gregory to divulge more into what exactly he wanted to know about the incident, Sen. McCain fired back with skepticism about how the attack has been handled.
“At the end of the day here on Benghazi, if the worst thing is true, what is that truth about how the president handled this crisis?” asked Gregory.
“Well I don’t know the answer to that question,” responded the senator. “I do that there are so many answers we don’t know.”
"We've had two movies about getting bin Laden and we don't even know who the people were who were evacuated from the consulate the day after the attack. So there are many, many questions. And we've had a massive cover-up on the part of the administration."
“But a massive cover-up of what?” fired back Gregory, cutting off an impassioned McCain who appeared adamant to make his point.
"I'm asking you, do you care whether four Americans died?" McCain said. "And shouldn't people be held accountable for the fact that four Americans died?"
Gregory, relentless, attempted to egg McCain on and have the lawmaker open up as to what exactly he thinks is being withheld from the public. “But a massive cover-up of what?” he asked again.
"Of the information concerning the deaths of four brave Americans," McCain fired back. "The information has not been forthcoming. You obviously believe that it has. I know that it hasn't. And I'll be glad to send you a list of the questions that have not been answered, including 'What did the president do and who did he talk to the night of the attack on Benghazi?'"
The truth regarding the Benghazi assault has continued to raise questions since the incident and matters have only been made worse by conflicting accounts coming from the White House, the US ambassador to the United Nations and the American intelligence community. Last week, Republicans in Congress halted the confirmation process for Hagel, by waging the first defense secretary nomination filibuster in the history of the country. Along with McCain, other Republicans have stressed that Hagel and other Obama nominees need to do more to explain the Benghazi attack before they could be confirmed.
“I don’t think we should allow . . . Hagel to be confirmed as secretary of defense, until the White House gives us an accounting,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said days earlier on CBS’ Face the Nation. “Did the president ever pick up the phone and call anyone in the Libyan government to help these folks? What did the president do?” Graham said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) has defended the president’s choice by saying, "Chuck Hagel had nothing to do with the attack in Benghazi.” After his appointment was put on hold last week, Sen. Reid called the Republican Party’s efforts “unfortunate,” adding, "It is tragic that they have decided to filibuster this qualified nominee.”
US President Barack Obama remains confident that his pick will be approved, however, and said, "My expectation and hope is that Chuck Hagel, who richly deserves to get a vote on the floor of the Senate, will be confirmed as our defense secretary."