Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) believes that the Obama administration knew within 24 hours after the attack on the American Embassy in Benghazi was a planned terrorist attack. President Obama and other administration officials were claiming the attack was a spontaneous demonstration in response to an anti-Muslim YouTube video for two weeks after the Sept. 11 attack.
"The coordinated attack lasted for hours with al-Qaida associated militia. My belief is that was known by the administration within 24 hours," Graham said in an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation."
Graham argued that the Obama administration promulgated incorrect information about the Benghazi attack because it is "trying to sell a narrative about the Middle East – the wars are receding and al-Qaida's been dismantled." Admitting that it was a terrorist attack, Graham continued, would show that "leading from behind didn't work" and it "undercuts that narrative."
The Obama administration "never believed the media would investigate, Congress was out of session and this caught up with them," Graham said. "I think they've been misleading us, but it finally caught up with them."
"Well that is a very serious charge you just leveled, Senator," host Bob Schieffer responded. "Are you saying the administration deliberately misled the American people to make it look as if terrorism is not as much of a threat as apparently it is?"
"Either they are misleading the American people or they are incredibly incompetent," Graham answered. "There was no way, with anybody looking at all, that you could believe, five days after the attack, it was based on a riot that never occurred. There was no riot at all. So, to say that, you're either very incompetent or you're misleading."
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), who was interviewed after Graham on the same show, called Graham's remarks "ridiculous."
"This conspiracy stuff is kind of ridiculous, to be honest with you. And I'm kind of surprised that they've gone to these lengths, but you know, that's what they do," Cummings said.
Last week, State Department officials said that they were in contact with personnel in Benghazi as the attack was happening. In a conference call with reporters, a State Department official said it was never the department's assessment that the raid was caused by a spontaneous demonstration. However, Susan Rice, who works in the State Department as the Ambassador to the United Nations, claimed on five talk shows the Sunday after the attack that it was caused by a spontaneous demonstration in response to the YouTube video.
During last Thursday's vice presidential debate, Vice President Joe Biden was asked why the Obama administration claimed for two weeks that the attack was caused by a spontaneous demonstration.
"Because that's exactly what we were told by the intelligence community. The intelligence community told us that. As they learned more facts about exactly what happened, they changed their assessment," Biden said.
On "Fox News Sunday," David Axelrod, Obama campaign senior strategist and a former White House official, backed up Biden's remarks.
"That's what the intelligence was at the time, the intelligence community itself and Director [James] Clapper [director of national intelligence] has said that," Axelrod claimed.
Axelrod also said that "there is nobody on this planet who is more concerned and more interested in getting to the bottom of this than the president of the United States."