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Graham Demands Panetta Testify on Libya Before a Hagel Vote

Graham Demands Panetta Testify on Libya Before a Hagel Vote
Leon Panetta, center, with Sen. Lindsey Graham, left, and Sen. John Cornyn during a confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill on June 9, 2011. Photographer: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said he opposes voting on former Senator Chuck Hagel’s nomination as defense secretary until current Secretary Leon Panetta testifies to Congress about the deadly attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.

“I want to hear Panetta on Benghazi before confirming a new defense secretary,” Graham of South Carolina told reporters at the Capitol today. “I just want to find out what Panetta did and what the president did as commander in chief” in responding to the Sept. 11 attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Pentagon spokesman George Little said today that Panetta will respond to Graham’s request. Departing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified on the Benghazi attack last week, an appearance some Republicans had demanded before they would agree to a Senate vote on the nomination of Democratic Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts to succeed her.

The Senate is scheduled to vote on Kerry later today. The Senate Armed Services Committee is set to consider the nomination of Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska, on Jan. 31.

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