Senator Lindsey Graham has said that he will block the
nominations for C.I.A. director and defense secretary pending more
information on the deadly attack on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi,
A leading Republican senator has said that he will block confirmations of President Barack Obama's nominees to lead the C.I.A. and the Defense Department unless he is given more information on the deadly attack last year on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.
The senator, Lindsey Graham, who is from South Carolina and is a vocal critic of the administration's handling of the attack, said on Sunday that he would use a Senate custom known as a hold to stall the nominations of John O. Brennan as C.I.A. director and a former Republican senator, Chuck Hagel, as secretary of defense until the White House gave him a full description of Mr. Obama's actions during the attack on Sept. 11, 2012.
"What did he do that night?" Mr. Graham asked during an appearance on the CBS News program "Face the Nation."
He suggested that the president could have intervened to manage the crisis personally. "That's not unfair," Mr. Graham added. "The families need to know."
The ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans were killed when heavily armed Islamic extremist militants stormed and burned the compound.
The White House responded to Mr. Graham's threat on Sunday evening.
"We believe the Senate should act swiftly to confirm John Brennan and Senator Hagel," said Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the National Security Council. "These are critical national security positions, and individual members shouldn't play politics with their nominations."
A hold is an informal measure by which any senator may prevent a vote without having to provide a specific reason or even identify who he or she is. But it can be overridden by a vote of 60 senators.
Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, also appearing on "Face the Nation," called Mr. Graham's threat "unprecedented and unwarranted."
He added, "I think it is an overreaction that is not going to serve the best interests of going forward, of the national security of the United States."
Mr. Graham cited Democratic efforts in 2005 to hold up the confirmation of John R. Bolton, President George W. Bush's nominee as ambassador to the United Nations, as a precedent for his threatened hold.
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