Graham’s nomination hold and that retracted ’60 Minutes’ segment

November 10, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 06: U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaks during a news conference about the conflict in Syria December 6, 2012 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The senators held a news conference to announce their supports on taking actions on Syria. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Sen. Lindsey Graham isn’t backing off his nominee threat. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Late last month, Sen. Lindsey Graham announced he would be holding up all White House nominations in the Senate until the administration made witnesses available to testify about the deadly attack on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya.

The South Carolina Republican’s umbrage was apparently inspired by a segment he’d caught on “60 Minutes” featuring a man claiming to be an eyewitness to the violence. But on Friday, CBS reporter Lara Logan retracted the story, explaining that she and her team had been duped by a source in whom they no longer “had confidence.”

Graham isn’t walking back on the pledge to hold up President Obama’s nominees, though. Like a bell that can’t be un-rung, he said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” nothing’s changed.

He will hold nominees, he says, until the White House makes available for congressional testimony five survivors of the Benghazi attack in which the U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed. Only then will the holds go away. Earlier this week, he said he relented and released holds on two ambassador nominations. But that was just a one-off.

“I hope we can find a way to get those interviews and release all the holds,” he said.

A number of national-security nominees are pending in the Senate: Jessica Garfola Wright to be undersecretary of Defense for personnel and readiness, Marcel Lettre to be principal deputy undersecretary, and Deborah Lee James to be Secretary of the Air Force. And Suzanne Spaulding is awaiting a vote to be undersecretary at the Department of Homeland Security.

And at State, there are a couple of nominees whose jobs are directly related to stopping future attacks and trouble in the very region Graham is worried about, including Gregory Starr, Obama’s pick to be Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security, and Anne Patterson, to be Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs.

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.
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Al Kamen · November 8, 2013