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GOP senator alleges gov't cover-up on Libya attack

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

Sen. 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-U.S. protests across the Middle East. According to Graham, the administration suggested otherwise so voters wouldn't think al-Qaida 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-Qaida 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 U.S. 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.

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