December 30th, 2013
06:52 AM ET

Lawmakers React to New Benghazi Report Claiming Al Qaeda Not to Blame

A top Republican and Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee took issue Sunday with a report from The New York Times that states al Qaeda was not involved in the deadly 2012 attack against a U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya.

The Times' investigation "turned up no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault," according to the report. "The attack was led, instead, by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO's extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi."

It's a conclusion that CNN has also drawn in its previous reporting.

The New York Times story stands in contrast to what some lawmakers, many of them Republicans, and administration officials have said about the attack.

Rep. Mike Rogers, House Intelligence Committee chairman, said Sunday that intelligence has traced the Benghazi attack to al Qaeda.

"There was aspiration to conduct an attack by al Qaeda and their affiliates in Libya, we know that," Rogers said on "Fox News Sunday." "The individuals on the ground talked about a planned tactical movement on the compound."

At issue is the Islamist militia Ansar al Sharia, which is believed to have been one of the militias involved in the attack. There do not appear to be organizational links between Ansar al Sharia and al Qaeda, but there is solidarity. Rogers said Ansar al Sharia is not as independent as it says it is.

"Do they have difference of opinion with al Qaeda core? Yes. Do they have affiliations with al Qaeda core? Definitely," said Rogers, a Republican from Michigan.

When Rogers says "Al Qaeda core," he's referring to the al Qaeda created by Osama bin Laden and the group behind major terrorist attacks in the past two decades, including the 9/11 attacks in the United States. Other al Qaeda affiliates have formed across the Middle East, including al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb located in Northern Africa and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Gen. Michael Hayden, a former CIA director and former NSA director, described in an interview with CNN the al Qaeda movement as having three layers: "Al Qaeda main, affiliates and the like-minded." He added that he long suspected the Benghazi attack was orchestrated by the "highly like-minded" or those low in the affiliates.

The New York Times report states that other individuals involved in the Benghazi attack do not appear to be connected with al Qaeda, either.


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October 4th, 2013
11:01 AM ET

Reid to CNN: Boehner’s ‘Job Is Not As Important As Our Country’

In an interview with CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid accused House Speaker John Boehner of being more worried about his job than the country amid a government shutdown.

The Nevada Democrat also talked for the first time Thursday about Boehner reneging on an agreement between the two over a “clean” spending bill, and admitted he directed his chief of staff to  leak embarrassing e-mails that they say indicate Boehner changed his position on Obamacare subsidies for Congress.

Reid also followed up on his controversial comments from Wednesday, when he took issue with the idea that the Senate should vote to fund clinical trials for cancer patients at the National Institutes of Health during the shutdown.

In the interview, Reid criticized Boehner for bowing to a conservative faction of his caucus that insists on attaching anti-Obamacare provisions to a temporary spending bill needed to fund the government.

“His job is not as important as our country,” Reid said.


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October 2nd, 2013
09:45 AM ET

GOP Congressman: Let's Tackle Shutdown, Debt Ceiling At Same Time

Congress could kill two birds with one stone by ending the government shutdown and raising the debt ceiling all at once, a Republican congressman from New York said Wednesday.

"There is a strong possibility, if [Senate Democrats] were willing to sit down and listen to us, that we would put a package together and solve the problems at once: stop the government shutdown and deal with the debt ceiling," Rep. Michael Grimm said on CNN's "New Day."

The federal government enters Day Two of its shutdown after the Republican-led House tried but failed to pass a piecemeal funding plan Tuesday night to pay for the District of Columbia, veterans affairs and national parks.

Even though it fell short of the required two-thirds vote, it would have had no future in the Democratic-led Senate anyway, and the White House had already promised a veto.


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October 1st, 2013
10:27 AM ET

Sen. Rand Paul: 'I'm Going On The Exchanges'

Sen. Rand Paul, who's been calling for the two houses to go to conference, said he would support passing a continuing resolution that would fund the government for a week or two and allow lawmakers to reach an agreement in the meantime.

"I do agree that negotiating with the government closed probably to them appears like strong arm tactics," the Kentucky Republican said on "New Day."

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