Libya Attack a Security Breakdown by Obama, Graham Says

President Barack Obama’s administration is responsible for security failures in Libya and botched its response to a Sept. 11 attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, said Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“I am totally convinced this is going to go down in history as one of the most major breakdowns in national security,” Graham, of South Carolina, said on “Fox News Sunday.” He said it’s inconceivable that Obama was unaware of growing security threats and attacks in the region.

Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Senate’s second-ranking Democrat, defended the administration and cautioned against jumping to conclusions before completion of a comprehensive investigation of the attack on the consulate in Benghazi.

“It’s always easier the day after to say how we should have won the football game,” Durbin said on the Fox program.

Calling the consulate “a death trap,” Graham said the U.S. should have closed it “long before Sept. 11 or heavily enforced it, and I put that on the president of the United States.” He criticized the Obama administration for not directly attributing the attack to terrorists immediately afterwards.

On the Fox program, Durbin cited a Washington Post column indicating the CIA itself believed the attack may have been in reaction to a video that many Muslims considered offensive and that sparked demonstrations.

Cables Released

Democrats also criticized California Republican Representative Darrell Issa, who is chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, for releasing documents on the security situation in Benghazi, saying the action was reckless and put lives at risk. Issa on Oct. 19 released unclassified cables from the U.S. embassy in Libya that included names of some individuals.

“And what Darrell Issa did by releasing names in that entire document of individuals who are working with America, put people at risk in Libya, and people around the world will now know that you’re at risk if you cooperate with the United States,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former White House chief of staff, said on ABC’s “This Week” program. “That office, that chairmanship of that committee comes with responsibility. And you can not act reckless with it.”

Bill Richardson, who was U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under Democratic President Bill Clinton, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was “taking political potshots” at Obama while U.S. diplomats were still under assault. “I think that’s wrong,” he said.

Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich said on CNN that “it is offensive for the president of the United States to pretend that being asked a serious question about a serious topic in a presidential campaign is some personality game.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephanie Armour in Washington at sarmour@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net

Press spacebar to pause and continue. Press esc to stop.

Bloomberg reserves the right to remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.