AND KERRY TOO? – AT 7:31 A.M. ET: The administration cannot seem to contain the growing scandal over its handling of the Libya attack, which left four Americans dead, including our ambassador. Even Democrats are starting to distance themselves from the series of contradictions and fantasies that have come out of the White House. From The Hill:
The Obama administration faced increased pressure Thursday to provide more information about the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya that left an ambassador and three other Americans dead.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) was circulating a letter Senate aides said would be signed by members of both parties asking for more information and another briefing on Libya — a development Republicans described as a significant shift from what had been a partisan fight.
I'd certainly say so. If the administration has lost Kerry, it's pretty much lost. We have to wonder if Kerry has given up his ambition to be secretary of state if Obama is re-elected.
“It's my understanding today that all members of the Foreign Relations Committee — both Democrats and Republicans — are asking the administration for answers,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said. “So this is now something that certainly could never be colored as partisan.”
GOP pressure also ratcheted up a notch after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday drew a link between al Qaeda affiliated groups and the Libya attack.
Republicans argued Clinton’s comments at a meeting of leaders attending the United Nations General Assembly underlined their arguments that the administration’s account of the incident has shifted and that officials were too quick to blame the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens on a protest gone wrong.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), perhaps the administration’s most bellicose critic on foreign policy, said it was “unbelievable” and “disgraceful” that the administration had blamed protests of an anti-Islamic video for the attack.
Asked by CBS News why the administration might have emphasized the film, McCain argued it was election-year concerns blaming al Qaeda would downplay Obama’s success in the war on terrorism.
“Some allege that maybe it’s because they’re trying to convey to the American people that al Qaeda is no longer a threat, and that when Osama bin Laden left that was the case, but the reality is that al Qaeda is well and thriving in some places,” McCain said.
Foreign policy and national security have long been strengths for Obama in the campaign, but a new poll suggested he could be vulnerable because of the recent events.
The Bloomberg News poll conducted after the Benghazi attack found that Romney had overtaken Obama on “being tough on terrorism” 48-42 percent.
COMMENT: There is a growing sense that the administration deceived the public and Congress over this awful event, and did so for election-related reasons. But the public does not seem engaged. That may be the ultimate sadness here.
September 28, 2012