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Graham wants to block Brennan, Hagel until he gets answers on Benghazi attack

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By Bloomberg News
Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013, 7:30 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Sen. Lindsey Graham said he will attempt to block the nominations of Chuck Hagel to be secretary of Defense and John Brennan to head the Central Intelligence Agency until he gets answers from the White House about what the president did personally at the time of the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

The South Carolina Republican, speaking on Sunday on CBS's “Face the Nation,” said a six-person security team that had been dispatched from Tripoli was held up at the airport during the eight-hour attack.

“Did the president ever pick up the phone and call the Libyan government and say, ‘Let those people out of the airport,' ” Graham asked.

There will be “no confirmation without information,” Graham said. “This is complete system failure, and I'm going to get to the bottom of it.”

Separately, Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, said he's leaning against voting to confirm Hagel, citing the former Nebraska senator's opposition to then-President George W. Bush's plan to send additional troops to Iraq.

Though Graham vowed to oppose the nominations, he seemed to rule out a filibuster.

President Obama's nomination of Hagel, a Republican, to succeed Leon Panetta has been criticized by Republicans on issues such as his opposition to unilateral sanctions against Iran and his comments about the influence of what he once called “the Jewish lobby.”

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, predicted last week that all 55 Senate Democrats would back Hagel once the nomination gets to the floor. In addition, at least five Republicans have said they would help muster the supermajority of 60 votes that would be needed to overcome an attempt to block a vote on him.

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