Secretary of State Hillary Clinton fell on her sword on Monday and took "responsibility" for the lack of security in Libya leading up the terrorist attacks. In response, Republican Senators John McCain (AZ), Lindsay Graham (SC), and Kelly Ayotte (NH) said while Clinton made a "laudable gesture" with her remarks, the buck still stopped with President Barack Obama at the White House.
The Senators, in a statement, said if Obama had not been aware of the rising threat level in the Middle East, especially in Libya, then they have "lost confidence" in the administration's national security team. But if Obama had known about the threats against U.S. interests in Libya, the Senators said "he bears full responsibility for any failures that occurred."
“If the President was truly not aware of this rising threat level in Benghazi, then we have lost confidence in his national security team, whose responsibility it is to keep the President informed," the Senators said. "But if the President was aware of these earlier attacks in Benghazi prior to the events of September 11, 2012, then he bears full responsibility for any security failures that occurred. The security of Americans serving our nation everywhere in the world is ultimately the job of the Commander-in-Chief. The buck stops there."
The Senators also said the American people deserve to know why the Obama administration insisted that the "attack in Benghazi was the result of a spontaneous demonstration triggered by a hateful video, long after it had become clear that the real cause was a terrorist attack."
"The President also bears responsibility for this portrayal of the attack, and we continue to believe that the American people deserve to know why the Administration acted as it did," they wrote.
The Senators also noted that Americans “must remember that the events of September 11 were preceded by an escalating pattern of attacks this year in Benghazi, including a bomb that was thrown into our Consulate in April, another explosive device that was detonated outside of our Consulate in June, and an assassination attempt on the British Ambassador.”
Earlier, during a visit to Peru, CNN reported Clinton said she took "responsibility" and tried to absolve Obama and Vice President of blame for the lax security in Libya because Clinton was "in charge of the State Department's 60,000-plus people all over the world, 275 posts."
"The president and the vice president wouldn't be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals," Clinton said. "They're the ones who weigh all of the threats and the risks and the needs and make a considered decision."
Clinton also said that "in the fog of war, there's always going to be confusion" and "I think it is absolutely fair to say that everyone had the same intelligence. Everyone who spoke tried to give the information that they had. As time has gone on, that information has changed. We've gotten more detail, but that's not surprising. That always happens."
Senators McCain, Graham, and Ayotte said Clinton made "a laudable gesture, especially when the White House is trying to avoid any responsibility whatsoever."