All 19 members of the Senate Foreign Relations committee wrote to Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides Friday to request more answers and another administration briefing on the wave of anti-American attacks that took place earlier this month, including the Sept. 11 assault in Benghazi that killed Amb. Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
"Please expand the accounting of the attacks against U.S. missions in Egypt, Libya and Yemen beginning on Sept. 11, 2012, to include attacks that took place at any U.S. missions from Sept. 11-13, 2012," the committee member wrote in the letter, obtained by The Cable, referencing attacks on the U.S. embassies in Sudan, Tunisia, and Pakistan, among others.
The senators want to know not only if security at these various missions was adequate, but what steps the host governments took to protect the U.S. missions during the attacks. They also want to know if there was proper intelligence-sharing between those governments and the U.S. government and whether security is tight enough at U.S. missions in dangerous places that were not attacked this month.
The letter was organized by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) and represents a follow-up and expansion on Kerry's Sept. 17 letter to Nides, reported by The Cable Thursday.
Kerry appears to be balancing between demanding answers about the administration's handling of the Sept. 11 events and defending the Obama team from escalating Republican criticism, fueled by daily revelations in the conservative and mainstream media.
On MSNBC Friday, the Massachusetts senator lamented that some Republicans and the Romney campaign have been quick to attack the Obama administration's response to the Benghazi attacks. "All they can do is see the politics in this," he said.
The committee wants a briefing on all these questions the week of Nov. 13, when the Senate is expected to next be in session, even if the FBI investigation and the State Department's Accountability Review Board aren't finished by then. The presidential election is one week earlier -- Nov. 6.
"We recognize that many of the matters may still be under analysis and investigation at that time, but given the importance of these issues to all committee members, even an interim response would be particularly helpful and much appreciated," the senators wrote.