WASHINGTON — On Thursday, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham issued a scathing rebuke of The New York Times and a December article in that paper about the attack in Benghazi, following the release of a Senate report this week that found that the attacks were preventable.
“To my friends at The New York Times: Journalism has died at this paper,” Graham said on the Senate floor Thursday.
The contested article ran in December, the culmination of “Months of investigation,” and it concluded that there was “no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault.” Rather, the New York Times concluded: “The attack was led, instead, by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi. And contrary to claims by some members of Congress, it was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.”
“Do you really believe this wasn’t a pre-planned terrorist attack with al-Qaida affiliates in charge?” Graham blasted.
“All I can tell you is there is no mystery about who planned this,” Graham said. “It was an al-Qaida affiliate in Libya. And August 16. a cable is sent back from Chris Stevens to Washington at the State Department saying, ‘we can’t defend the consulate because al-Qaida; ten training camps of al-Qaida exist in Benghazi. The al-Qaida flag is flying. And, oh, by the way, the Red Cross had left Benghazi, the British had left Benghazi because of attacks by terrorist groups. This was long before September 11.”
“So don’t tell me don’t know,” Graham continued. “We do know. It was terrorists.”
Sen. John McCain also lit into the New York Times in a floor speech, referring to the paper as “the surrogate of the Obama administration.”
“As Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan used to say, ‘everyone is entitled to their own opinion but not to their own facts.’ The facts are stubborn things. In reality, what the Times report does is propagate myths.”
McCain called the New York Times article a “false narrative,” that conveniently “happens to align with the Obama administration’s account of things.”
Graham said that a number of questions still remained about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Bengahazi in September 2012; about the role of the White House and various other agencies and people who were involved in the initial misrepresentation of the attack after the fact; and also about the circumstances leading up to the attack.
“Let’s don’t lose sight that this is not just about the State Department,” Graham said, adding that he and Sens. John McCain and Kelly Ayotte still believed a Joint Select Committee needed to be established to investigate the issue.