Four U.S. Republican Senators sent a letter to President Obama Wednesday, the latest move in the GOP’s efforts to get answers to questions regarding the terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya that resulted in four dead including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.
In the letter, signed by Senators John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, the senators demand answers to the questions sent in seven previous letters over the past month to members of the Obama administration. In each, the senators have asked for more details regarding events before the Sept. 11 attack and the actions taken after it.
"The American people deserve to know all the facts surrounding the terrorist attack in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, that resulted in the murder of four Americans-including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Unfortunately, you and your senior administration officials have not been forthcoming in providing answers to the many questions that have emerged," the letter read.
The Benghazi attack is one of the few national security issues to gain a foot hold in the presidential race. Thus far, the Obama administration has stonewalled most of the Republicans' requests for information while Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney continues to suggest the president has kept certain details from the American public.
"The American people and their representatives in Congress need to understand what you knew about the Benghazi terrorist attack and when you knew it. We also have a right to know what steps you and your administration took-or failed to take-before, during, and after the terrorist attack to protect American lives," the senators wrote in their letter.
On Tuesday, McCain brought up the Benghazi attack at a Romney campaign event in Ohio that doubled as a hurricane-relief fundraiser.
“This president is either engaged in a massive cover-up deceiving the American people or he is so grossly incompetent that he is not qualified to be the commander in chief of our armed forces.” McCain said.
The House oversight committee held a hearing Oct. 10 in which members of the State Department explained what security measures were requested and which were granted as well as a discussion of the events leading up to and during the attack. Notably, Eric A. Nordstrom, the State Department’s regional security officer for Libya, told the panel that he asked for and was denied more security resources for the consulate.
Republicans have focused on the comments made immediately after the attacks claiming the Obama administration has misled the American public about how soon they knew the attack was a terrorist act rather than the result of a protest of an anti-Islamic You Tube video produced in the U.S.
The Republican senators failed to ask for an update on the investigation that is underway on Benghazi attack. Obama administration officials have said they will be able to provide more details when the investigation is completed and the individuals who carried out the attack are brought to justice.
“Ultimately, as commander in chief, I’m responsible, and I don’t shy away from that responsibility,” Obama said in a television interview aired Monday. “My number one responsibility is to go after the folks who did this, and we’re going to make sure we get them.”
On Oct. 27, Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and McCain sent a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta asking what military forces were in position to support the U.S. Consulate in Libya and what communications he had with the president in regards to sending in a rescue force.
The day before McCain and Portman sent their letter, Panetta explained to the Pentagon press corps that he, Gen. Carter Ham, the head of U.S. Africa Command, and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, decided not to send available military forces to Libya because of the lack of quality real-time intelligence of the attack.
“And as a result of not having that kind of information, the commander who was on the ground in that area, General Ham, General Dempsey and I felt very strongly that we could not put forces at risk in that situation." Panetta said Oct. 26 during a Pentagon press conference.
The Democrat controlled Senate has already requested their own hearing over the Benghazi attack, although they requested that it be held after the presidential election. No other hearings are scheduled to be held before the election as Congress was sent home to campaign ahead of it.
However, Republicans want answers now.
"Your failure to answer these important questions will only add to the growing perception among many of our constituents that your administration has undertaken a concerted effort to misrepresent the facts and stonewall Congress and the American people. We look forward to a prompt and thorough response to these questions. The American people deserve a full accounting of what happened in Benghazi where four brave Americans were murdered," the four Republican senators wrote in their letter.