Congressional Republicans are stepping up the pressure on the administration over the events that led to the death of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, and New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte on Thursday described the administration’s early response to the attack as either “incompetence” or an attempt to mislead Americans.
Ayotte, in an appearance on Fox News, singled out Susan Rice, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., who described the attack on the consulate in Benghazi, as happening “spontaneously” shortly after the incident. “I have to tell you with the comments she made on those Sunday shows -- that was either incompetence or blatantly misleading the American people,” Ayotte of Rice. She demurred when asked whether the administration was lying.
Ayotte’s comments are similar to those of House Armed Services Chair Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., who on Wednesday said of the administration: "The way they're handling this is so incompetent."
On Wednesday, a spokesman for Obama, Jay Carney, said the president considers the incident “a terrorist attack” and on the same day Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggested that the attack was linked to al-Qaida. Also on Wednesday, a group of eight senior House Republicans, including McKeon, wrote a letter to the administration saying they “stand ready” to return to Washington from their recess to hold hearings on the administration’s handling of the Libya attack.
On Tuesday, Ayotte, along with senators John McCain, R-Ariz., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., sent a letter to Rice that stated, in part: “By the date of your comments, it was already clear that the attack in Libya was a terrorist attack, and that heavily armed and well-trained attackers appeared to have prepared for an opportunity to attack U.S. interests.”