Sunday November 18, 2012 | 03:00 PM

WASHINGTON – Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe on Sunday continued to question how the Obama administration publicly handled the September attacks on a U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya.

Appearing on the CBS Sunday morning news program “Face the Nation,” Snowe said it was “unacceptable in today’s environment” that it took the administration’s top intelligence officials 17 days to issue a statement saying that the Benghazi attacks were deliberate and well-organized. Four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, were killed in the attacks by militant groups.

Snowe, a Republican, also said she wants additional answers about why security wasn’t stronger at the U.S. consulate given the “abundance of threat reports” in the region. Although lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have voice strong concerns about the administration's handling of the Benghazi incident, the criticism has been loudest from Republicans.

“Essentially, there was very minimal security,” Snowe told host Bob Schieffer. “The physical barriers weren’t sufficient. The attackers, the mob overran the complex. The militia we were depending on dispersed and did not provide any defense. And we had very few personnel in the most high-threat environment possible.”

Snowe serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which has conducted several closed-door hearings on the Benghazi attacks and plans at least three more. Snowe’s Maine colleague, Republican Sen. Susan Collins, is ranking minority member on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which is also investigating the attacks.

Schieffer also asked Snowe about her decision to retire due to the hyper-partisanship in Washington, calling it “a marker in time when a member of the Senate would say, ‘This is no longer the place that one can accomplish anything.'”

“The essence of public service is to solve problems and we have lost that central purpose. And we have to return to it,” Snowe said.

 

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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