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'Scheduling error' keeps McCain from classified briefing on Benghazi attack on consulate

| Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, 9:52 p.m.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, right, and fellow committee member Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., left, listen as Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., center, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012, saying says he would do all he could to block the nomination of United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice to replace Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton because of comments she made after the deadly Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — Like many people, Sen. John McCain wants more information about the attack of the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

On Wednesday, he had the chance, when high-ranking military and diplomatic officials held a classified briefing. But the Arizona senator and other Republican members of a Senate committee investigating the attacks skipped the briefing; at the same time, McCain held a press conference to call for a special Watergate-style committee to look into the Benghazi attacks.

When pressed on Thursday by a CNN reporter on why he skipped the briefing, McCain snapped, “Because I have the right as a senator to have no comment, and who the hell are you to tell me I can or not?”

Brian Rogers, a spokesman for McCain, said the senator missed the briefing because of a “scheduling error.”

The CNN staffer who participated in that confrontation was Ted Barrett, the network's senior congressional producer. In the little set-to, McCain scolds Barrett for “badgering,” suggesting that the CNN producer was not being properly respectful. CNN's Dana Bash defended her colleague on CNN's air: “He is respectful.”

McCain has been one of the sharpest critics of the Obama administration's handling of the attack in Benghazi on Sept. 11, which resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens. Along with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the Arizonan spent much of Wednesday renewing calls for a special committee to investigate the attack and, in the process, missed a Benghazi briefing.

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