A simple question to a top U.S. Intelligence official at a Senate hearing today gave Republicans an opening to try to ratchet up the political focus on last week's attacks in Libya that killed four American diplomats and what the Obama Administration did to prevent such losses.
"Let me begin by asking you whether you would say that Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans died as a result of a terrorist attack," Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) asked of Matthew Olsen, the head of the National Counterterrorism Center.
"Certainly on that particular question, I would say yes; they were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our embassy," Olsen said, becoming the first high ranking official to define it as a terrorist attack.
That news aggravated some Republicans, like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who demanded an apology from the Obama Administration.
"They should apologize to the American for going on nationwide television and saying to the American people that it was not a terrorist attack," as McCain took dead aim at the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice.
"It was either ignorance or political," McCain told me. "I don't know which is worse."
"They didn't tell the truth to the American people," McCain added.
At a hearing and a briefing for reporters at the White House, there were repeated questions about security planning around the anniversary of the Nine Eleven attacks, and why no Marines had been sent to the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) described it as an "inexplicable lack of security" as she rapped Olsen and other witnesses at a Senate hearing on terror threats.
"I just don't think that people come to protests equipped with RPGs (Rocket Propelled Grenades) and other heavy weapons," Collins said at one point.
For Republicans, the calendar should have been a red flag, plain and simple.
"It's pretty safe to say Nine Eleven is going to be a pretty important date from a counterterrorism standpoint," said Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee.
"We need to be prepared for it," Chambliss said.
While Republicans in Congress believe that Mitt Romney needs to focus mainly on economic themes in the weeks ahead, they also see an opening on foreign policy matters, especially when it comes to who made the call on security for U.S. diplomats in Libya.
"The answer to whose mistake it was needs to be answered," said Chambliss.