By Pam Benson
Senate Intelligence Committee members will have access Tuesday to the e-mails associated with the development of the intelligence community's talking points on the attack at the U.S. mission in Benghazi, a committee aide said.
The Obama administration will provide the e-mails for members and some committee staff to read, take notes and ask questions in the committee's classified hearing room, the aide said. Members will not get copies of the documents.
Republican senators have threatened to hold up the nomination of John Brennan to be the next CIA director until they receive e-mails exchanged between the White House and the CIA concerning the public talking points used by U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice for her appearances on Sunday talk shows the weekend after the September attack.
In a sign the White House is scrambling to keep President Obama's defense secretary nominee afloat in the confirmation process, Vice President Joe Biden is making calls to Republican senators about former Sen. Chuck Hagel, according to a senior Democratic source.
This comes after the White House sent a letter to Capitol Hill stating that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Libyan President Mohammed Magariaf the same night as the terror attack against a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi last year. President Obama, according to the letter, did not make a call to the Libyan president until the evening of the day following the violence.
Read the letter obtained from a Democratic official here.
The three GOP senators–Sens. Lindsey Graham, John McCain and Kelly Ayotte–-had demanded answers about the attack in a letter Tuesday to the Obama administration before committing to vote on Hagel's nomination. Graham had publicly stated that he was specifically asking whether Obama called Libyan officials on the night of the attack against the consulate in Benghazi, which left four Americans dead.
By Kevin Liptak
President Barack Obama's nominees for secretary of defense and CIA director could be held up by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham unless the White House provides more information about its response to September's attack on an American diplomatic post in Libya.
The South Carolina lawmaker made the threat Sunday on CBS, using the phrase "no confirmation without information" in vowing to put a hold on the nominations of both John Brennan and Chuck Hagel unless the Obama administration provides more information about the Benghazi attack.FULL STORY
By Jamie Crawford and Chris Lawrence
The United States has signed a deal with the central African nation of Niger to host American troops and surveillance drones to keep tabs on Islamic militants in the region, officials from those countries said Tuesday.
Niger is next door to Mali, where France joined the fight against Islamic rebels earlier this month
Pentagon spokesman George Little said the role of U.S. troops in Niger "has not yet been defined" - but Niger's ambassador to the United States, Maman Sidikou, told CNN that his government has agreed to let U.S. drones operate from its territory.
Sidikou says his understanding of the agreement is the drones will be unarmed and used for surveillance to monitor extremist movements. He refused to discuss where in the country the drones would be based or when they will be operational.
Niger lies to the east of Mali, where French troops and warplanes are fighting alongside government troops to push back Islamist fighters who seized much of the former French colony in 2012.
The rebels took advantage of the chaos that followed a revolt by Touareg separatists and a military coup, and banned music, smoking, drinking and watching televised sports in the territories under their control. FULL POST
By Elise Labott
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday took on Republican congressional critics of her department's handling of the deadly September terrorist attack in Libya.
Conservative GOP members challenged Clinton on the lack of security at the diplomatic compound in Benghazi as well as the erroneous account that the attack grew spontaneously from a protest over an anti-Islam film produced in the United States.
At two hearings, which together totaled more than five hours, Clinton acknowledged a "systemic breakdown" cited by an independent review of issues leading up to the armed assault and said her department was taking additional steps to increase security at U.S. diplomatic facilities.
Here are five things we learned from the hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs committees.FULL STORY
By Tim Lister
Much of the focus of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s appearance on Capitol Hill Wednesday was on whether her department failed to appreciate and respond to the risks that led to the Benghazi attack - and whether it had the resources to confront such risks.
And, of course, on whether in the immediate aftermath, the administration characterized the attack candidly and accurately.
But the hearings also illustrated how the United States is scrambling to catch up with new realities in North Africa – and how it faces a long struggle in a new arena of instability.
Clinton acknowledged that “the Arab revolutions have scrambled power dynamics and shattered security forces across the region.”
Looking back to her confirmation as secretary of state four years ago, Clinton said, “I don’t think anybody thought [Egyptian President Hosni] Mubarak would be gone, [Libya’s Moammar] Gadhafi would be gone, [Tunisian leader Zine El Abidine] Ben Ali would be gone.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is testifying today about the deadly terrorist attack in #Libya last year. Follow our coverage:
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Read CNN's summary of the hearings (constantly updated)
By Jake Tapper, Elise Labott and Ted Barrett
Republican members of Congress plan a host of questions for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her long-awaited testimony on Wednesday about the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.
Questions are expected to range from a security vacuum in Northern Africa to new cables suggesting that Ambassador Christopher Stevens, who was killed in the September 11 assault, once proposed moving the compound to a more secure location adjacent the CIA Annex, sources tell CNN.
Congressional staffers have been shown new State Department e-mails and cables indicating that in November 2011, Stevens, concerned about the safety of the compound in Benghazi, proposed two options to the State Department, sources tell CNN. The first involved moving the compound back into a hotel. The second would move the compound to an unoccupied villa adjacent the CIA annex. CIA officials agreed with U.S. diplomatic personnel on the ground that the latter option would be safer. But the State Department rejected the idea.
The presence on the House Foreign Relations Committee of several new members and on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee of at least two possible GOP presidential hopefuls – Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky – has some State Department officials anticipating aggressive questions about whether the presence of Islamic extremists in Mali and Algeria were in any way related to past decisions by the Obama administration to keep U.S. combat troops out of Libya.
Most questions are expected to re-visit well-worn lines of inquiry about why requests by officials on the ground in Libya for additional security were not heeded, and faulty talking points about whether an anti-Islam video played a role in the attack that also killed three other Americans.
Other questions could involve the State Department response to the terrorist bombing of the U.S. compound in Benghazi that had occurred the previous June.
Lawmakers may also be interested in Clinton's precise whereabouts on the night of the September attack, her personal involvement in administration actions that night as well as efforts to locate Stevens, who went missing before he died.
Clinton will testify for 90 minutes before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the morning and 90 minutes before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in the afternoon.
By Barbara Starr
The post-Benghazi controversy over who was responsible for that attack in Libya is now reaching into internal Obama administration deliberations over how much to say about the terrorist attack in Algeria.
U.S. officials, including Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, were quick to call the kidnapping a terrorist attack, but the administration has resisted discussing details about what elements are directly involved.
A senior U.S. official with direct knowledge of the latest intelligence tells CNN that although "intelligence is streaming in" from Algeria, the administration will not come to a firm conclusion what specific elements of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb are responsible until it has a higher level of certainty than currently exists.
Just how gun-shy is the U.S. intelligence community about stating its conclusions on Algeria?
By Carol Cratty and Susan Candiotti
FBI Director Robert Mueller met with Libyan officials in Tripoli on Thursday for discussions about last year's deadly terror attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, an agency official said.
Another law enforcement official said Mueller met with the prime minister, justice minister, intelligence chief and others.
That official said the investigation of the September 11 assault has made "significant progress" and charges were expected although no timetable for action was given.
"We're still focusing on more than a dozen people," the second official said.