Ayotte: Congress needs to further probe Benghazi attack

April 30, 2013

WARREN, N.H. -- Congress should further investigate the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on an American diplomatic outpost in Libya after comments by an apparent whistleblower suggest that U.S. troops were closer to the site of the attack than initially realized, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) said Tuesday.


The remains of a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, photographed in Sept. 2012. (AP)

Ayotte's comments came just minutes after President Obama addressed questions on the attack during a White House news conference and were in response to a constituent's question about a Fox News Channel interview with a man described as a U.S. military Special Operations member who said he witnessed the deadly attacks in Benghazi that killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

In the Fox interview that aired Monday evening, the man said that U.S. military forces were close enough to Libya that they could have responded.

"How could we not have military assets in the area given the deteriorating situation?" Ayotte said in response to the constituent's question. "This new whistleblower coming forward I think will result in additional and new hearings -- and needs to, because having been through this experience of trying to get information about Benghazi out, I was so surprised from the beginning about how the administration didn’t want to provide information."

Ayotte's comments echoed a joint statement issued Tuesday by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who renewed their call for Senate leaders to appoint a joint select committee to investigate the attacks.

“In light of these new revelations it is imperative that we learn everything we can from what happened before, during and after the attacks," McCain and Graham said. "We cannot allow those who serve our nation to feel abandoned when under attack, or by Congress afterwards."

Ayotte, McCain and Graham are known on Capitol Hill as the "three amigos" for their frequent and high-profile criticisms of Obama's handling of national security and foreign policy.

Ayotte was speaking at a town hall meeting that covered several issues, including the decline of the U.S. Postal Service, implementation of the 2010 health-care reform law -- and her vote against a bipartisan plan to expand the national gun background-check program.

Follow Ed O'Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

Ed O’Keefe is a congressional reporter with The Washington Post and covered the 2008 and 2012 presidential and congressional elections.
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