A trio of Senate Republicans have more concerns than ever about the Obama's administration's initial presentation of the motivations of the attack in Benghazi, Libya that left four American diplomats dead, they said following a meeting with top officials Tuesday.
Sen. John McCain is the leading critic of the initial claims made by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice on Sunday televisions shows that the attack was prompted by anger over an anti-Islamic video. It has since been determined that the terrorists with ties to al-Qaeda pre-planned the violent attack on Sept. 11 of this year.
"We are significantly troubled by many of the answers that we got and some that we didn't get," McCain said to reporters following the meeting with Rice and Deputy CIA Director Mike Morell, who provided Rice with her talking points.
Rice, rumored to be a potential replacement for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, met with McCain and Sens. Lindsay Graham and Kelly Ayotte to address questions they had about her role in explaining what happened in Benghazi to the public.
"Bottom line, I am more disturbed now than I was before," Graham said. "Here's the key – in real time, it was a statement disconnected in reality. I'm very disappointed in our intelligence community. If you don't know what happened, don't say you know what happened. The question is, should they have been giving any information at all?"
Both Graham and Ayotte said they have more questions that need to be answered about both what happened in Benghazi and why Rice provided the public with false or misleading information before they would consider supporting her potential nomination to the cabinet. McCain has said previously that he would do all he could to prevent her confirmation.
Following harsh criticism from McCain and his colleagues, Rice herself requested to meet with the senators, fueling speculation the administration was trying to calm the waters ahead of her official nomination. And Obama himself, in a press conference shortly after his re-election, aggressively defended Rice, further encouraging the idea that she could be his favored nominee over Sen. John Kerry, who also is vying for the position.
But judging from the lawmakers' initial reaction, it appears that rather than smoothing things over, Rice's meeting only ramped up opposition.
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Rebekah Metzler is a political writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter.