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While Sen. John McCain was giving a fiery speech on the Senate floor slamming the Obama administration’s handling of the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, he missed a committee briefing on the investigation from officials from the State and defence Departments.Around the same time McCain declared on the Senate floor the need for a select committee to investigate the attacks in Libya, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee — of which McCain is a member — was learning additional details about the investigation and the attack from the officials.
In fact, when Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) came out of the “classified, closed-door briefing,” he made it clear that he thought McCain’s goal of a special congressional committee is unnecessary.
Maine Sen. Susan Collins, the top Republican on the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, agreed with Lieberman and hit McCain for missing the meeting.
Collins … backed up her chairman, Lieberman, and dinged McCain, a member of the panel, for missing Wednesday’s nearly two-hour briefing in the Capitol.
Both Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, “who was there at briefing, and Sen. McCain, who was not, are members of our committee, and I know they would play very important roles,” Collins told POLITICO after the briefing.
“I do not see the benefit of creating a brand new committee when we already have the Senate’s chief oversight committee, plus the Intelligence Committee, examining this very important matter.”
McCain is the ranking member on the Armed Services Committee. The Chairman of that committee, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), was at the briefing.
Here’s the roster of who was briefing the Senators:
- Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy
- Eric Boswell, assistant Secretary of State for diplomatic security
- Michael Sheehan, assistant secretary of defence for special operations
- Major General Darryl Roberson, vice director of operations for the Joint Staff
- Henry Hollatz, deputy director of intelligence.
- Linda Weissgold, director of CIA’s Office of Terrorism Analysis.
Democratic Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate’s Majority Leader, has indicated that he wouldn’t support the move for a special committee. Without Reid’s support, it’s doubtful that McCain’s vision of a select committee will happen.
UPDATE: McCain’s spokesman has said that the Senator missed the meeting because of a “scheduling error”
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