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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Janison: Peter King defends Benghazi report trashed by fellow Republican

An unusual clash surfaced last week when Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) blasted as "full of crap" a recent report on the 2012 terrorist attack on a U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya -- issued by the GOP-run House Intelligence Committee.

Among the committee's dozen majority members is Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), who signed off on the report. Responding to Graham, with whom he's been friendly, King said there was "nothing I disagreed with" in its text but added if he had written it, he would have done so differently.

King said Democrats spun the report as "an exoneration" of the Obama administration when it was not. That said, he noted the committee found nothing to support various "conspiracy theories" propounded in the time following the attack in which four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, died.

The report was released Nov. 21 by the committee's chairman, Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and ranking Democratic member C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger of Maryland. It concluded, among other points, that intelligence was provided about an "increased threat in Benghazi" but no "specific, tactical warning of the Sept. 11 attacks."

While no "intelligence failure" proved evident, State Department security personnel spoke of feeling "ill-equipped and ill-trained" to meet potential threats, the report said. It also cites the inaccuracy of so-called "talking points" supplied to UN Ambassador Susan E. Rice -- now national security adviser -- for televised appearances shortly after the attacks. These remarks were previously cited by Congressional Republicans as distorting the nature of the extremist violence before the 2012 elections.

"The intelligence community, basically the CIA, gave the State Department ample notice and information that the outpost of the consulate was a target, and should have been more secured," King said. "It's a very rational analysis, very critical of the administration. Someone in the State Department screwed up."

But Graham has said: "I don't believe that the report is accurate, given the role that Mike Morell [deputy director of the CIA at the time] played in misleading the Congress on two different occasions."

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said the report indeed exonerates the administration and was released the Friday before Thanksgiving to bury it. Meanwhile Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) is heading yet another Benghazi probe.

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