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Senator Vows to Delay Cabinet Votes; Sen. Graham Threatens to Block Confirmation of CIA, Defense Chiefs Because of Debate over Attack in Libya; POLITICS

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON A leading Republican senator said Sunday that he would hold up Senate confirmation of President Barack Obamas nominees to head the Pentagon and the CIA until the White House provided more answers about the Sept. 11 attack against a U.S. installation in Benghazi, Libya.

The White House took aim at South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a persistent critic of Obamas response to the terrorist assault, by urging quick approval of the presidents second-term national security team and scolding any lawmakers trying to play politics with critical nominations.

Graham accused the White House of stonewalling requests to release more information about the attack that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya. Were going to get to the bottom of Benghazi, he told CBS Face the Nation.

A Democratic colleague branded Grahams threat to stall the nominations of former Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., to be defense secretary and John Brennan, Obamas top counterterrorism adviser, to be CIA director as unprecedented and unwarranted. Senators should have the chance to vote on the fate of those nominees, said Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island.

The White House did not address Grahams demand for more information, but did note that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified Thursday before Congress about the chaotic day of the Sept. 11 attack.

In January Graham had signaled he would delay Brennans pick and told Fox News he would absolutely block Hagel unless Panetta and Dempsey testified about the Benghazi attack. …