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Dave Solomon has been a reporter or editor for New England news organizations since 1977. He has served as executive editor of both the Portsmouth Herald and the Nashua Telegraph. He joined the reporting staff of the New Hampshire Union Leader in 2012.

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November 15. 2013 12:25PM

John DiStaso's Granite Status: Ayotte rejects NHDP call for apology after false CBS report on Benghazi attack


 

FRIDAY, NOV. 15: AYOTTE: NO APOLOGY. U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte has rejected a New Hampshire Democratic Party call that she apologize for criticizing the Obama administration's handling of the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya following a televised report that was later shown to be false.

The New Hampshire Republican said she has long maintained, as many others have, that the attack was perpetrated by al-Qaeda terrorists.

CBS's "60 Minutes" aired a report on Oct. 27, featuring an interview with a security contractor who told said he was at the compound the night of the attack and saw the body of Ambassador Chris Stevens.

The report gave credence to those who have long maintained it was a terrorist attack and that the Obama administration has been dragging its feet and has not been fully cooperating with congressional investigations.

Shortly after the report aired, Ayotte appeared at a news conference with fellow Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and said the "60 Minutes" report "made very clear that this was an al-Qaeda attack from the beginning" and there were still no answers as to why there were "misrepresentations made" by the administration, shortly before the 2012 election, that the incident was a protest over "a heinous video."

Graham said at the time he would block all Obama administration appointments until he received answers. Ayotte did not go that far.

CBS last Sunday admitted the report was false and apologized for it.

The state Democratic Party said Wednesday Ayotte should apologize for her criticisms at the news conference now that CBS admitted the report was false.

"She should do the right thing for once, admit that she was wrong to tout this false report, apologize, and ask her political pals to release their partisan holds gridlocking the federal government," said state Democratic Party spokesman Harrell Kirstein.

"CBS has removed the false report from their website and apologized for ever airing it. What motivation beyond her own partisan ideology or the political goals of national Republican insiders, could Kelly Ayotte have for not doing the same?" said Kirstein.

Ayotte spokesman Liz Johnson responded that the Democrats' "partisan attack is false. Senator Ayotte stated at the press conference the well-known fact that al Qaeda-linked terrorists were responsible for the Benghazi attack, even though the Obama administration originally blamed a spontaneous protest caused by an inflammatory video.

"With four Americans murdered, the Senator has not let up in her fight to get answers from the administration, which has repeatedly brushed off her attempts to get information," Johnson said.

(See earlier Granite Status reports elsewhere on this page or by clicking on "Granite Status" above.)


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