Republican senator alleges cover-up on Sept 11 Benghazi attack

Benghazi attack

A senior Republican senator accused President Barack Obama's aides of deliberately covering up the details of the September 11 attack in Libya that killed a US ambassador so that voters wouldn't question Obama's handling of the war on terror.

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a long-time point man for the Republicans on national security issues, said he believes the administration knew within 24 hours of the assault that it was a coordinated militia attack and was not tied to other anti-US protests across the Middle East.

According to Graham, the administration suggested otherwise so voters wouldn't think al-Qaeda remained a threat.

"They're trying to sell a narrative, quite frankly, that (the) wars are receding and that al-Qaida has been dismantled," said Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, in an interview on CBS television's "Face the Nation."

"And to admit that our embassy was attacked by al-Qaeda operatives ... I think undercuts that narrative," he added.

It was an exceptionally pointed allegation on what has become a major campaign issue. The attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, which killed four Americans including Ambassador Chris Stevens, has raised questions about whether the State Department denied its embassy staff adequate security to save money and why the White House was slow to label the assault a "terrorist attack."

Democrats shrugged off the allegations.

"This conspiracy stuff is kind of ridiculous to be honest with you, and I've been kind of surprised that they've gone to these lengths. But you know that's what they do," said Rep Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is investigating the incident.

The White House today declined to comment on Graham's allegations. It has said previously that the investigation continues and that officials have relied on information about the attack as it became available.

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