McCain on Benghazi: ‘I Knew It Was A Terrorist Attack From The Beginning’


HALIFAX, Canada — Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said that nothing he learned in a closed-door briefing Friday with former CIA Director David Petraeus would change his criticism of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s initial public statements about the Sept.11 Benghazi attack.


Asked Saturday at a press conference at the Halifax International Security Forum if anything he was told by Petraeus would change his assessment of what Rice knew and the statements she made, McCain said, “No, because I knew it was a terrorist attack from the beginning. People don’t go to spontaneous demonstrations with mortars and RPGs.”


Earlier this week, McCain said that Rice’s comments on the Sunday news shows five days after the Benghazi attack disqualified her to be Obama’s next secretary of state. 


McCain reiterated that it should have been immediately apparent to the administration that the Benghazi attack was not triggered by Libyan demonstrators protesting an anti-Muslim YouTube video. “There were people who were at the consulate who flew to Germany the next day. They knew there was no spontaneous demonstration. They knew that. And they were interviewed. So there should have been no doubt whatsoever of that,” McCain said.


McCain also brushed off a letter sent to him Friday by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) in which Reid rejected McCain’s call for a Senate select committee to investigate Benghazi and said it would be a “venue for baseless partisan attacks.” Responding to the letter, McCain said, “I’m concerned about four Americans who died. Their families need to know the circumstances, why it happened, how it happened, and where responsibility lies. That’s all. That’s all that we’re seeking. We’re not seeing a confrontation with anyone. We’re not trying to quote ‘take on anyone.'”


Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), who sits on the Senate Armed Services and Intelligence committees and joined McCain at the press conference Saturday, along with Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and John Barrasso (R-WY), promised a full accounting of what happened in Benghazi. “Whether or not a select committee is created, we’ll get to the bottom of this. We’re going to find out what happened, learn the lessons. We’re going to honor these four patriots who died. We’re ging to carry on the work of Ambassador Stevens.” 

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