Petraeus testifies on Libya attack days after resignation
Former CIA director David Petraeus was sneaked into the Capitol today, away from the media, to face lawmakers’ questions about the attack on the US Consulate in Libya – just one week after he resigned over an extramarital affair.
The retired four-star Army general, formerly one of the country’s most respected military leaders, entered through a network of underground hallways leading to a secure room. CIA directors typically walk through the building’s front door.
Gen Petraeus is under investigation by the CIA for possible wrongdoing in his extramarital affair, though that wasn’t the subject of today’s closed-door hearings in Washington.
He made no comment on the affair to lawmakers, but he was asked if it would have any impact on his testimony and he said no, according to Peter King, the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.
Mr King said Gen Petraeus didn’t seem affected by the week’s developments.
As for the attack, “He was definitely fully aware of what was going on,” Mr King said of Gen Petraeus.
The September 11 attack in Benghazi, which killed the US ambassador and three other Americans, created a political firestorm, with Republicans claiming that the White House misled the public on what led to the violence.
Five days after the attack, the administration sent UN Ambassador Susan Rice on the Sunday news shows to describe it as a spontaneous protest over an anti-Muslim video produced in the US.
Ms Rice relied on initial intelligence that proved incorrect, and she’s now under attack by some Republican senators who vow to block her if she’s nominated as secretary of state when Hillary Clinton steps down.
Lawmakers have been interviewing top intelligence and national security officials in trying to determine what the intelligence community knew before, during and after the attack.
They viewed security video from the consulate and surveillance footage by an unarmed CIA Predator drone that showed events in real time.
Gen Petraeus was appearing first before the House Intelligence Committee and then its Senate counterpart and was expected to provide more details about the US response.
He has acknowledged an affair with a woman later identified as his biographer, the married Paula Broadwell. The resignation of the former US commander in both Iraq and Afghanistan stunned Washington, which once had buzzed with talk about a possible run for president in his future.
The FBI began investigating the matter last summer but didn’t notify the White House or Congress until after the November 6 election.
In the course of investigating the Petraeus affair, the FBI uncovered suggestive emails between Afghanistan war chief Gen. John Allen and Florida socialite Jill Kelley, both of them married. President Barack Obama has put Gen Allen’s promotion nomination on hold.