Lindsey Graham: We Need Watergate-Type Committee to Investigate Benghazi; Petraeus Must Testify

November 11, 2012 - 3:03 PM

Sen. Lindsey Graham

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R.-S.C.)

(CNSNews.com) - Sen. Lindsey Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Sunday that Congress should form a new special committee, like it did during the Watergate and Iran-Contra scandals, to investigate what happened before, during and after the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Graham also insisted that Gen David Petraeus, who resigned this week because he had been engaged in an extramarital affair, must testify in Congress about Benghazi.

Graham was responding to a question from host Bob Schieffer of CBS News’s Face the Nation who had asked the senator whether Congress should investigate Petraeus’s affair and how it was handled by the administration.

“Well, if there is no effect of the affair on national security, I think we need to move on,” said Graham. “But at the end of the day the one thing that has to happen in my view is we have to get to the bottom of Benghazi. I hate what happened to Gen. Petraeus for his family and the families of those involved. But we have four dead Americans in Benghazi. We have a national security failure long in the making.

“I don’t see how in the world you can find out what happened in Benghazi before during and after the attack if Gen. Petraeus doesn’t testify,” said Graham.  “So, from my point of view, it is absolutely essential that he give testimony before the Congress so we can figure out Benghazi.

“And from the Congress’s point of view, instead of doing this in a stove pipe way, you have got the Department of Defense that needs to explain themselves, the intelligence community, God knows the State Department needs to answer for their behavior regarding Benghazi,” said Graham. “I would suggest that we have a joint select committee of House and Senate members and we do this together—not have three different committees going off in three different directions—so we can get to the bottom of it like we did in Watergate and Iran Contra. I think that would be smart for the Congress to combine resources.”

In 1973, after President Richard Nixon had been reelected in 1972, the Senate formed a special committee chaired by Democratic Sen. Sam Ervin of North Carolina to investigate the break-in at the Democratic National Committee offices at the Watergate in Washington, D.C. In 1987, during the Iran-Contra scandal, the House and Senate formed a joint committee to investigate the Reagan administration’s covert arm sales to Iran. President Nixon eventually resigned over the Watergate scandal. Presidents Nixon and Reagan were both Republicans.