When Congress returns after the election, Saxby Chambliss said the Senate Intelligence Committee will hold a hearing to address the questions that remain unanswered about last month’s deadly attack on a U.S. compound in Libya, from why it took the FBI three weeks to get to Benghazi to the links between the attackers and al-Qaeda.
According to my AJC colleague Daniel Malloy in Washington, Chambliss — the ranking Republican on the committee — was privy to much of the same information that President Barack Obama.
That makes the shifting administration account of what happened all the more disturbing, Chambliss said in a telephone interview this morning.
“He stood up in the Rose Garden [on Sept. 12], and he’d seen some of the same information some of the rest of us had seen that unquestionably called it a terrorist attack,” Chambliss said. The senator argued that Obama’s reference to “acts of terror” – a key point in Tuesday’s presidential debate, likely to surface again in a final confrontation on Monday — was more of a general statement, rather than a description of the Libyan attack.
Chambliss also took issue with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic chairman of the intelligence committee, who contends that Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, had received her talking points from James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, when Rice made a now widely panned series of appearances on TV immediately after the attacks.
Chambliss said Rice reports to the president, not to Clapper, and he figures she got word from the White House to tie the deaths of a U.S. ambassador and three other diplomatic personnel to an anti-Islamic video – perhaps part of a political effort to bolster the president’s claim that “al-Qaeda is on the run.”
“Those of us involved in the intelligence community know al-Qaeda is not on the run,” Chambliss said. “They are as strong as ever and we’ve got to continue to be vigilant.”
President Barack Obama appeared last night in a pre-taped interview on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” Republicans are focused on one line delivered by Obama: “When four Americans get killed, it’s not optimal.”
Political analyst Charlie Cook has posted these dire words about the presidential race at the National Journal:
” In the end, the odds still favor the popular and electoral vote heading in the same direction, but the chances of a split like the one in 2000 are very real, along with the distinct possibility of ambiguity and vote-counting issues once again putting the outcome in question.
Republicans may be on the verge of another provocative discussion about abortion. On Thursday, U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., told reporters that a legal exception in abortion laws to protect the life of the mother is no longer necessary. From USA Today:
“There is no such exception as life of the mother, and as far as health of the mother, same thing, with advances in science and technology,” Walsh said. ” ‘Health of the mother’ has become a tool for abortions anytime, for any reason.
Walsh, a freshman elected in 2010 with Tea Party support, is in a tight battle for re-election against Democrat Tammy Duckworth, a former Veterans Administration official.
The Chicago Tribune said reporters asked if Walsh if he was saying it is never medically necessary to conduct an abortion to save a woman’s life, and the congressman responded, “Absolutely.”
We told you yesterday about state Rep. Scott Holcomb, D-Atlanta, who was the object of a quickly quashed TV attack by Republican Chris Boedeker, who accused his opponent of using illegal drugs while Holcomb was an officer in the U.S. Army.
The Boedeker campaign has pulled the video from YouTube, but the Huffington Post has posted its own copy.
Late last night, Holcomb enlisted former U.S. senator Max Cleland in an effort to embarrass the Georgia GOP into denying its own candidate:
“Scott Holcomb is a veteran who has served this nation and state honorably as a soldier and State Representative. I will not be silent when his impeccable service record is falsely attacked by someone who never served in the military. His opponent is unworthy of public office and the Georgia Republican Party should disavow him.”
If memory serves, Republican congressional candidate Lee Anderson will be in big, bad metro Atlanta today for a fundraiser held by GOP members of the U.S. House delegation.
But Anderson will not be here Sunday, when the Atlanta Press Club and Georgia Public Television have scheduled a debate highlighting the 12th District contest.
On Thursday, Anderson told WRDW-TV in Augusta that he’s not afraid to debate Democratic incumbent John Barrow. “I’m not shying away from no one. I’m not hiding from no one, I’m not ducking from no one,” he said.
Anderson has insisted that he won’t debate Barrow until the Democrat gives President Barack Obama a public bear hug, and states whether he would vote for Nancy Pelosi for U.S. Speaker of the House.
Barrow stated in July that he intends to vote for Obama. And when he recently told an Augusta television station that “my support for Obama is beside the point,” the quote became the heart of National Republican Congressional Committee television ad.
Yet none of that has been good enough for Anderson, a state lawmaker from Grovetown. My AJC colleague Daniel Malloy, who has been following the race, recently talked to Anderson spokesman Ryan Mahoney:
“It’s a simple question and clearly it’s one of those things where I think the media side of it, you say, ‘Well, he’s admitted it right?’ But yet he won’t actually say it so he knows his little game is working. You guys are accepting his response as the admission of guilt, but he’s not really saying it. ‘I support; I endorse; I’m backing.’ Any of those things would be great.”
As for the Speaker of the House, Barrow has backed lightning rod Nancy Pelosi as recently as 2009, but in 2011 he cast a protest vote for Rep. John Lewis of Atlanta. Barrow said this week he will not vote for Pelosi if he holds onto his seat in 2013, and he hopes another viable candidate emerges. No one has announced a challenge to Pelosi yet, and thus Barrow does not have a horse to back.
“I have had a parting of the ways with former Speaker Pelosi, Leader Pelosi, over the way she guided the caucus in the last Congress,” Barrow said. “I voted against her twice, first in a secret ballot in caucus and second in a public vote on the floor of the House casting a vote against her for Speaker. That is not going to change.”
Here’s wondering whether, during Sunday’s statewide debate, Barrow will pull a Clint Eastwood and put words into the empty chair’s mouth.
That long winning streak by opponents of gay marriage may be about to end. According to a new poll by the Washington Post:
Maryland voters are poised to approve same-sex marriage at the ballot box next month, a potential watershed moment in the history of a right that has been granted by courts and state legislatures but never by a popular vote….
Maryland voters favor upholding the state’s gay marriage law by a nine-point margin, according to the poll, which could end a streak of defeats in more than 30 states and provide further evidence of the country’s evolution on the controversial topic. Recent surveys have also shown leads in Maine and Washington state, where voters will be presented with the same issue Nov. 6.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider