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McCain Skips Classified Briefing While Blasting White House over Benghazi

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Senator John McCain is demanding answers on the Benghazi attack, but his office tells ABC News he missed a classified briefing on the subject because of a “scheduling error.”

The briefing was held on Wednesday before the Senate Homeland Security Committee -- of which Senator McCain is a member -- and lasted three hours, featuring testimony by officials from the State Department, the Pentagon, the CIA and the National Counterterrorism Center.

McCain was holding a press conference demanding answers about the administration’s handling of the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans, including US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens. At precisely the same time, the briefing for the Homeland Security Committee was happening in another part of the Capitol building.

Why did he missing the briefing on a subject he has been so adamant in demanding answers on?  McCain’s office says his absence was unintentional -- an oversight.

“Senator McCain was absent from the hearing due to a scheduling error," McCain spokesman Brian Rogers told ABC News.

Even if he had attended, McCain was unlikely to be satisfied with what he heard.

After the briefing was over, the top Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, Senator Susan Collins, was asked if she was satisfied with the hearing.

“I really wasn’t,” Collins answered. “There are many, many unanswered questions.  I feel that we’ve only scratched the surface through the briefings that we had today.”

There are currently at least four Senate Committees looking into the Benghazi attack.  For her part, Senator Collins does not agree with McCain’s call to combine those into one special -- or “select” -- committee like the one that investigated Watergate.

“ I do not see the benefit of, nor the need for a select committee,” Collins said.  “Our committee, our Homeland Security Committee has government-wide jurisdiction and a history of producing comprehensive bipartisan reports on everything from the Ft. Hood terrorist attack to Hurricane Katrina, so I don’t see the need for creating a brand new select committee to take a look at this.”

The White House had no immediate comment on McCain’s absence from the hearing, but one former White House official was quick to jump on it.

“It is nothing short of appalling that Senator McCain would use his time and influence to play politics instead of getting answers to the questions he claims to have,” said Bill Burton of the pro-Obama group Priorities USA.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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