(WASHINGTON) — Sen. John McCain, one of the loudest critics of the White House reaction to the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, admitted on Tuesday that he was surprised that the Director of National Intelligence admitted to removing references to al Qaeda in the talking points memo that followed the deaths of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice has been on the hot seat since she read from the talking points, which initially blamed a spontaneous demonstration against an anti-Islam movie — a claim that was later recanted by the Obama administration.
McCain said this new revelation from the DNI does not match up with what he and other lawmakers heard from intelligence officials during Senate hearings investigating the consulate attack.
The Arizona Republican said on Tuesday that during those hearings, when witnesses were asked who removed the references to al Qaeda, “all of them — including the Director of National Intelligence himself — told us that they did not know who made the changes. Now we have to read the answers to our questions in the media.”
McCain went on to say that “this latest episode is another reason why many of us are so frustrated with, and suspicious of, the actions of this administration when it comes to the Benghazi attack.”
Rice could be the first casualty from the fallout since McCain and other Republicans have vowed to block her confirmation if President Obama nominates her to succeed outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
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