At Tuesday’s presidential news conference, a national security disagreement between President Barack Obama and Sen. Lindsey Graham took center stage.
Sometimes, the way a reporter words a question drives the news, as happened Tuesday when Obama was asked to respond directly to comments the South Carolina Republican made April 24 during one of his seemingly ubiquitous TV appearances.
“Between Benghazi and Boston, we’re going backward in national security. This administration is letting — letting its guard down, and it is beginning to show,” Graham said on Fox News, referencing what he views as intelligence failures in advance of both the terrorist attacks on the U.S. consulate in Libya last year and at the Boston Marathon earlier this month. Obama rebutted Graham’s statements.
“No, Mr. Graham is not right on this issue, although I’m sure it generated some headlines. You know, I think that what we saw in Boston was state, local, federal officials, every agency rallying around a city that had been attacked, identifying the perpetrators just hours after the scene had been examined,” Obama said. “We now have one individual deceased, one in custody. Charges have been brought.”
Graham was quick to respond both through social media and in a statement.
“With all due respect, Mr. President, Benghazi and Boston are compelling examples of how our national security systems have deteriorated on your watch,” Graham said. “If Benghazi is not an example of system failure before, during and after the attack what would be? If Boston is not an example of a pre-9/11 stovepiping mentality, what would be?”
Obama said that, of course, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and others would review procedures to see if any failures have occurred and anything new should be implemented.
“What Director Clapper is doing is standard procedure around here, which is when an event like this happens, we want to go back and we want to review every step that was taken. We want to leave no stone unturned. We want to see is there in fact additional protocols and procedures that could be put in place that would further improve and enhance our ability to detect a potential attack,” Obama said.