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Senator threatens CIA nod

Scott Applewhite | AP
Sen. John McCain (center), R-Ariz., ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, accompanied by fellow committee members, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (left), R-N.H., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012, where he said 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. J.

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By McClatchy Newspapers
Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, 9:52 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Sen. Lindsey Graham threatened on Tuesday to block Senate consideration of President Obama's nominee to head the CIA in retaliation for the Obama administration's failure to provide more details about the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

The South Carolina Republican's threat to place a hold on the nomination of John Brennan as CIA director raises doubts about a second senior national security leadership pick by Obama, with several senators questioning former Sen. Chuck Hagel's qualifications to be Defense secretary.

Graham, a Senate Armed Services Committee member who served as a military lawyer in Iraq and Afghanistan, voiced concerns about Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska who was nominated Monday. But Graham indicated likely support for Obama's pick of Sen. John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, to be secretary of State.

Criticism over the Benghazi assault, which killed four Americans, from Graham and fellow Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire contributed to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice's decision last month to withdraw her name for consideration as secretary of State.

Graham brought up Rice again in explaining why he is weighing a block of Brennan's nomination to head the CIA.

“I have not forgotten about the Benghazi debacle and still have many questions about what transpired before, during and after the attack on our consulate,” Graham said in a prepared statement.

“In that regard, I do not believe we should confirm anyone as director of the CIA until our questions are answered — like who changed Ambassador Susan Rice's talking points and who deleted the references to al-Qaida?” Graham said. “My support for a delay in confirmation is not directed at Mr. Brennan, but is an unfortunate, yet necessary action to get information from this administration.”

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