“I don’t think we should allow Brennan to go forward for the CIA directorship, Hagel to be confirmed to secretary of defense until the White House gives us an accounting,” Graham said, adding, “What did he do that night? That’s not unfair. The families need to know, the American people need to know.”
Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the White House’s National Security Council, said, “We believe the Senate should act swiftly to confirm John Brennan and Sen. Hagel. These are critical national security positions and individual members shouldn’t play politics with their nominations.”
Reed said that “to dwell on a tragic incident and use that to block people is not appropriate. To try to find information, to ask legitimate questions, as Senator Graham is doing is completely appropriate. But then to turn around and say, ‘I’m going to disrupt, essentially, the nomination of two key members of the President’s Cabinet,’ I don’t think that’s appropriate, I don’t think it’s warranted, I think it is an overreaction that is not going to serve the best interest going forward of the national security of the United States.”
Graham would have none of it.
“In a constitutional democracy, we need to know what our commander in chief was doing at a time of great crisis, and this White House has been stonewalling the Congress, and I’m going to do everything I can to get to the bottom of this so we’ll learn from our mistakes and hold this president accountable for what I think is tremendous disengagement at a time of national security crisis,” he said.
At the Senate hearing, Panetta testified that he and Dempsey were meeting with Obama when they first learned of the Libya assault. He said the president told them to deploy forces as quickly as possible. Graham asked whether Panetta spoke again to Obama after that first meeting. Panetta said no, but that the White House was in touch with military officials and aware of what was happening. At one point, Graham asked Panetta if he knew what time Obama went to sleep that night. The Pentagon chief said he did not.