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Entries in CIA (15)

Tuesday
Mar052013

Brennan Inches Closer to Being Next CIA Director

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- John Brennan moved one step closer on Tuesday to being the next CIA director.

The Senate Intelligence Committee voted 12-3 to move Brennan’s nomination out of the committee Tuesday afternoon. Brennan, the current chief counterterrorism adviser to President Obama, must now face a full Senate vote for his nomination to be confirmed for his new job as head of the CIA.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has indicated that he’d like the full Senate to vote on Brennan at some point this week.

Prompting the move in the Senate Intelligence Committee, where the Brennan nomination had been held up for numerous days, was an agreement with the White House to provide the committee access to all Office of Legal Counsel opinions related to the targeted killing of Americans by drones.

“I am pleased the administration has made this information available,” Committee Chairwoman Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said in a statement on the release of the White House information on drones to the committee. “It is important for the committee to do its work and will pave the way for the confirmation of John Brennan to be CIA director.”

Brennan still faces an uphill climb in the full Senate where some Senate Republicans, like Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Kelly Ayotte R-N.H., have vowed to hold up his nomination until the administration answers questions on the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11 of last year.

“John and I are hell-bent on making sure the American people understand this debacle called Benghazi,” Graham said this weekend on CBS' Face the Nation.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb142013

John Brennan the Next Nominee Likely to Be Held Up over Benghazi?

US Senate(WASHINGTON) -- The trio of Republican senators responsible for part of the filibuster of Chuck Hagel's confirmation as defense secretary are moving on to another target in order to extract more information on Benghazi from the White House. That new target? The nomination of John Brennan to be the next CIA director.

When asked about holding up Hagel's nomination Thursday, Senators John McCain, R-Ariz., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said they are not satisfied with the administration's answers on Benghazi. They noted the filibuster is a Senate tradition of oversight while adding that they intend to use the same sort of leveraging in the Brennan nomination.

“It’s a time-honored practice, it’s a way for us to get information,” McCain said, “we’ve been totally stonewalled so the only leverage honestly that we have is to gauge our support for the nomination of a nominee on whether they are forthcoming with information.”
 
The senators said they intend to hold up the Brennan nomination over the much-debated talking points given to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice before the Sunday shows in the days following the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
 
“When Brennan comes forward, I want to know who changed those talking points,” Sen. Graham said. “We are going to find out who changed those talking points or die trying.”
 
The senators also said they hope the White House will be “forthcoming with the information” and that there won't be a need to hold up another nomination.
 
On Wednesday, Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky already announced he was prepared to put a "hold" on Brennan's nomination, but that he would question the administration's policy on the use of armed drones to attack U.S. citizens.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov162012

Content of CIA Talking Points About Benghazi Confirmed

US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)(WASHINGTON) -- The  CIA’s unclassified Benghazi talking points were a major focus of former CIA Director David Petraeus’ closed testimony on Capitol Hill on Friday.

Those talking points have become a bone of contention because U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice used them to prepare for her network television interviews five days after the attack.  Rice has been criticized by Republicans for having said at the time that the attack in Benghazi was a spontaneous protest in response to an anti-Muslim video filmed in the United States.

The political sparring over those comments have centered on what was in the talking points provided to the House Intelligence Committee (which Rice had as well) in the days after the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

The Washington Post quoted the talking points in a column published on Oct. 19, but it was not until Friday that a U.S. government official went on the record to confirm their accuracy.

On Friday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, read the talking points to reporters staking out Petraeus’ appearance before her committee.

Here are the talking points:

The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the United States Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against United States diplomatic posts in Benghazi and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations. This assessment may change as additional information is collected and analyzed and as currently available information continues to be evaluated. The investigation is ongoing, and the United States government is working with Libyan authorities to bring justice to those responsible for the death of United States citizens.

A senior U.S. official familiar with the drafting of the talking points provided some insights Friday into how they came about.  According to the official, the talking points drafted by the CIA  were “a reflection of the understanding at the time that could be provided at an unclassified level.  They were preliminary and were never meant to be the final word on the issue.”

The official said that they were coordinated at a senior level within the intelligence community and “were not, as has been insinuated by some, edited to minimize the role of extremists, diminish terrorist affiliations, or play down that this was an attack.”

Because the talking points were to be unclassified, the official said intelligence and legal issues had to be considered.   For one, the official said the information about the attack involving individuals linked to al Qaeda came from classified sources. Secondly, the official said those links were “so tenuous, as they still are, it makes sense to be cautious before pointing fingers to avoid setting off a chain of circular and self-reinforcing assumptions.”

The talking points used the term “extremists” to describe those behind the Benghazi attack.  The subsequent political fight over whether the attack should have been described as a terrorist attack seems to have caught intelligence officials off-guard. "People assumed that it was apparent in this context that extremists who attack U.S. facilities and kill Americans are, by definition, terrorists,” said the official.

“The controversy this word choice caused came as a surprise,” said the official.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov162012

Petraeus Testifies for 90 Minutes Before House Panel

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Former CIA director David Petraeus slipped into a closed door hearing before the House Intelligence Committee Friday morning to testify about what he learned first-hand about the Sept. 11 attack in the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Petraeus, who traveled to Libya and carried out his own investigation after the Benghazi attack, spoke and was questioned by the committee for about 90 minutes, committee chairman Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said after the hearing.

King said the sex scandal that forced Petraeus to abruptly resign was not a factor in the hearing, which was confined to the terrorist attack that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

"Ten seconds into it, that was off to the side," King said, referring to the scandal.

The congressman said that what Petraeus told the panel "will all be classified other than it was clear it did not arise from a demonstration and it was a terror attack."

King said that Petraeus maintained that he said early on that the ambush was a result of terrorism.  King added that he remembered Petraeus and the Obama administration downplaying the role of an al Qaeda affiliate in the attack in the days after Stevens was killed.  The administration initially said the attack grew out of a spontaneous demonstration against a video that lampooned the Prophet Mohammed.

"That is not my recollection" of what Petraeus initially said, King said on Friday.

The congressman suggested that pressing Petraeus was awkward at times.  "It's a lot easier when you dislike the guy," King said.

Petraeus resigned last week after disclosing an extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Nov112012

Petraeus Told Friends Affair With Paula Broadwell Began After He Left the Army

DoD photo by Cherie Cullen/Released(NEW YORK) -- Gen. David Petraeus told friends his affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, began after the four-star general left the army in August 2011, sources told ABC News.

Petraeus is said to have been the one to have broken off the extramarital affair.

The 60-year-old's storied career, first as the public face of two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and later as director of the CIA, came crashing down on Friday when he announced his resignation from the intelligence agency, citing the indiscretion.

"After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair. Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours," Petraeus said in a statement on Friday.

People close to the general had previously suspected Broadwell's feelings for him had crossed a professional line.

They found the biographer, who spent a year embedded with Petraeus in Afghanistan, to be embarassing and far too "gushy" about him. They said to one another they thought Broadwell "was in love with him," sources told ABC News.

The FBI stumbled upon the extramarital affair while probing a harassing email that had been sent to a woman in Florida. The email was traced to Broadwell's inbox, where investigators are said to have found intimate emails that indicated Petraeus was having an extramarital affair with his biographer.

Investigators uncovered no compromising of classified information or criminal activity, sources familiar with the probe said, adding that all that was found was a lot of "human drama."

Petraeus and his wife Holly, who have been married for more than 37 years, are said to be staying in their Arlington Home and are doing "OK."

"The women in the army are always the strong ones. Holly will survive," a friend of the couple said.

The timing of Petraeus' resignation, which came days before he was scheduled to testify to the House and Senate intelligence committees regarding the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, "was what it was," an official told ABC News, adding that the time had come to tie up any loose ends in the investigation and confront Petraeus.

The CIA director stepped down from his position as the head of the intelligence agency on Friday, acknowledging he had engaged in an extramarital affair. He did not provide any further details.

"Yesterday afternoon, I went to the White House and asked the president to be allowed, for personal reasons, to resign from my position as D/CIA," he said in a statement. "After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair. Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours. This afternoon, the president graciously accepted my resignation."

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was made aware of the Petraeus situation on Tuesday evening around 5 p.m. by the FBI, according to a senior intelligence source.

After having several conversations with Petraeus that evening and the following day, Clapper advised Petraeus that the best thing to do would be for him to resign, the source said.

Clapper notified the White House the following afternoon that Petraeus was considering resigning, according to the source.

Petraeus then went to the White House Thursday and told the president he thought he should resign, and the following day the president accepted his resignation, the source said.

Clapper is not currently initiating an investigation into the matter, according to the source.

The news shocked officials in Washington. Petraeus was perhaps the military's most respected general of his generation. He is seen as a problem-solver, and was entrusted with key roles by two presidents from different parties.

Petraeus, then working as a general in Afghanistan, spent a year in close quarters with Broadwell, a 40-year-old married mother of two who embedded with him to write his biography.

In February, when promoting her book, "All In: The Education of General David Petraeus," the West Point and Harvard-educated Broadwell told ABC News' Christiane Amanpour she was able to learn more about what makes the four-star general tick.

"His father doled out what he called gruff love, so he was always working hard to keep his father happy and I think that's reflected in his personality now," she said. "It's interesting to apply that on every one of his assignments, even looking at now, he's trying to please this president."

Broadwell wrote a story that was published this week on Newsweek's website titled "General David Petraeus's Rules for Living." No. 5 is notable in light of the news about his extramarital affair.

"We all will make mistakes. The key is to recognize them and admit them, to learn from them, and to take off the rear-view mirrors -- drive on and avoid making them again," he said.

The departure of Petraeus will add another hole to Obama's leadership team, which is expected to lose some high-profile faces in the coming weeks and months.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is among the cabinet members who have said they will not stay in the administration for a second term. A hole at CIA will add yet another position that requires Senate confirmation to that list.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Nov112012

Sen. Saxby Chambliss 'Confident' David Petraeus Was Truthful During Confirmation Hearing

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia said Sunday morning on “This Week” he is “confident” that David Petraeus, the former CIA director who resigned Friday following an alleged extramarital affair with his biographer, was truthful during his confirmation hearings for his post in the Obama administration.

“I don’t know (the) exact date of when all of this process began and what took place there, but we’re — we’re confident that David Petraeus was very straight up with us during the confirmation hearings,” said Chambliss, the vice chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, who said he learned of the FBI investigation that uncovered the alleged affair on Friday.

Chambliss called Petraeus — who led the surge in Iraq under former President Bush and also led U.S. troops in Afghanistan before being named head of the CIA – a “great leader” and “a great patriot,” but said it was appropriate for him to resign.

“David Petraeus is a great leader, a great patriot, and he is a guy who has probably contributed more to the safety of the United States of America over the last decade than any one single individual.  And he’s a good leader.  And what leaders do when they’re put in a difficult position is, they lead,” Chambliss said. “And he led here by doing what he thought was the right thing.  And I think he did do the right thing.  I don’t think there’s any question.”

Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington also praised Petraeus Sunday morning on “This Week.”

“I think that General Petraeus has served our country incredibly well in many different forms and fashions.  And like all men and women who serve our country - have served our country - we owe him a debt of gratitude,” Murray said. “And I hope this moves forward quickly for him and his family to resolve.”

Chambliss also noted that Petraeus, who was scheduled to testify this week to the House and Senate intelligence committees regarding the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya, could still be called.

“But at the end of the day, I would not rule out General Petraeus being called to testify.  That still could happen at some point in time,” Chambliss said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Nov112012

Paula Broadwell, David Petraeus' Alleged Mistress, Embedded With Him for 1 Year in Afghanistan

DoD photo by Cherie Cullen/Released(NEW YORK) -- As a biographer to Gen. David Petraeus, Paula Broadwell enjoyed tremendous access to the general during the year they spent together in Afghanistan, finding out the idiosyncrasies that helped shaped the man who was the public face of the war.

"He was really motivated to please his father when he was younger," Broadwell told ABC News' Christiane Amanpour earlier this year. "His father doled out what he called gruff love, so he was always working hard to keep his father happy and I think that's reflected in his personality now."

It was clear in interviews Broadwell gave to promote her book, "All In: The Education of General David Petraeus" that she and the general shared a mutual trust. What remained unseen, however, was an extramarital affair that sources say was discovered by the FBI after intimate emails sent from the CIA director were found in Broadwell's email inbox.

By all accounts, Broadwell seemed to have it all.

The 40-year-old resides in Charlotte, N.C., with her husband, Dr. Scott Broadwell, who works as a radiologist, and their two young sons.

Growing up in Bismarck, N.D., Broadwell was the high school valedictorian and homecoming queen.

She went on to attend West Point, where she was ranked No. 1 in overall fitness in her class. She spent some time in the Black Ops and later earned post-graduate degrees from Harvard and King's College in London.

On Monday, just days before before Petraeus would step down from his post with the CIA, a story by Broadwell was published on Newsweek's website titled "General David Petraeus's Rules for Living." No. 5 is notable in light of the news about his extramarital affair.

"We all will make mistakes," he said. "The key is to recognize them and admit them, to learn from them, and to take off the rear-view mirrors -- drive on and avoid making them again.""

Petraeus resigned on Friday, citing personal reasons and an extramarital affair.

"Yesterday afternoon, I went to the White House and asked the president to be allowed, for personal reasons, to resign from my position as D/CIA," he said in a statement. "After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair. Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours. This afternoon, the president graciously accepted my resignation."

 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep272012

Paul Ryan Receives First Intelligence Briefing; Romney Visits CIA Building

Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan has received intelligence briefings from the U.S. government, ABC News has learned.  Ryan spokesperson Michael Steel confirmed the briefing took place.

The campaign would provide no other details, such as timing.  Presidential candidates and their running mates traditionally receive classified briefings from the intelligence community in the run up to an election.

On Sept. 13, the Romney campaign announced that both Ryan and Mitt Romney would start receiving intelligence briefings.

“For the last several weeks, the Romney campaign has been in touch with the intelligence community to arrange intelligence briefings for Gov. Romney and Rep. Ryan, consistent with tradition,” Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said at the time.

Romney received his second intelligence briefing from President Obama’s administration Thursday morning at a CIA office building at the Dulles Discovery Center in Dulles, Va. The briefing lasted about two hours.

His first came on Sept. 17 in Los Angeles.

Republicans have sought to open a line of political attack against Obama for not attending daily intelligence briefings like those instituted by former President George W. Bush.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep142012

Al Qaeda Took Advantage of Libyan Protest, CIA Chief Says

Cherie Cullen/Released(WASHINGTON) -- The attack that killed four Americans in the Libyan consulate began as a spontaneous protest against the film “The Innocence of Muslims,” but Islamic militants who may have links to al Qaeda used the opportunity to launch an attack, CIA Director David Petreaus told the House Intelligence Committee Friday according to one lawmaker who attended a closed-door briefing.

Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, the top Democrat on the House Intel committee, said Petraeus laid out “a chronological order exactly what we felt happened, how it happened, and where we’re going in the future.”

“In the Benghazi area, in the beginning we feel that it was spontaneous -- the protest -- because it went on for two or three hours, which is very relevant because if it was something that was planned, then they could have come and attacked right away,” Ruppersberger, D-Md., said following the hour-long briefing by Petraeus. “At this point it looks as if there was a spontaneous situation that occurred and that as a result of that, the extreme groups that were probably connected to al Qaeda took advantage of that situation and then the attack started.”

Petraeus did not speak to reporters on his way in or out of the briefing. When he left the meeting, the former four-star general was trailed by about a dozen intelligence officials and a couple of Capitol police officers.

Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee were also briefed Friday by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs Admiral James Winnefeld. But senators emerging from that private briefing reported that they believed the attack in Libya was premeditated.

“It was a terrorist attack organized and carried out by terrorists,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the top Republican on the committee said, adding that about 15 “al Qaeda or radical Islamists” were armed with rocket propelled grenades and other lethal weapons.

“This was a calculated act of terror on the part of a small group of jihadists, not a mob that somehow attacked and sacked our embassy,” McCain said. “People don’t go to demonstrate and carry RPGs and automatic weapons.”

“I don’t think any of us are clear yet about who carried out these attacks in Libya, but from all that I’ve heard the murderous attacks on Libya that resulted in the death of four Americans were not accidental,” Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., added. “They were not just some kind of coincidental protests to this film, this anti-Muslim film. They were a well-planned and professional terrorist attack against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.”

Friday morning, President Obama notified congressional leaders that he had deployed troops “equipped for combat” to Libya and Yemen to defend U.S. citizens and property, pursuant to the War Powers Resolution.

“It’s just common sense that in view of the situation that we’re looking at right now, we will see enhanced security anywhere across the world where we see the protests,” Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., said after attending the briefing with Petraeus. “We’ve seen how quickly this one began, and how quickly it turned violent and I think that’s something that we have to be aware of and deal with.”

Rep. Pete King, another Republican on the House Intel committee and the chairman of the Homeland Security panel, said that regardless of whether al Qaeda coordinated the attack on the consulate in Libya, “we are very concerned that this could spread” to other countries across the region.

“We’re talking about a very hostile area of the world in many cases, a very turbulent part of the world where there are many enemy forces, very disparate forces, many types of jihadists,” King, R-N.Y., said. “Like Libya there’s many militias that are still there, heavily armed, they do have an al Qaeda presence. You put all that together, it’s very combustible, and it can be many countries besides Libya and Egypt.”

King also criticized the Obama administration’s policies and echoed GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney by saying Obama has sent “a very mixed message, a confusing message” that has “weakened our position in the Middle East.”

“President Obama’s policies since the summer of 2009 I think have not been helpful to the United States in the Middle East. It’s weakened our position in the Middle East,” he said. “You combine that with the way [President Obama] treats [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu in Israel and the pulling troops out of Iraq without getting a status of forces agreement [with] the apologies. You put it all together and I think that what you saw this week is in many ways a logical result of all of that.”

Across Capitol Hill, McCain was slightly more blunt in his criticism of President Obama.

“Everything is unraveling in that part of the world because the United States is weak,” McCain said. “This president does not understand the importance of American leadership.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun242011

Senate Questions CIA Nominee Gen. David Petraeus

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- At his confirmation hearing Thursday to become the new CIA director, Gen. David Petraeus told Senate lawmakers that his current role in Afghanistan will have no bearing on how he'll assess the war as chief of the nation's top spy agency.

Petraeus, who commands U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said, "I have sought to provide the most accurate view possible.  My goal has always been to ‘speak truth to power’ and I will strive to do that as director of the CIA."

The four-star general also told the Senate Intelligence Committee that he has no plans to bring "my military brain trust with me."

Petraeus already has close ties with the CIA when he organized so-called "fusion cells" with the agency to strike at al Qaeda and Taliban leaders in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

Once he's installed as CIA chief to replace Leon Panetta, the new defense secretary, Petraeus pledged to continue a "relentless" pursuit of al Qaeda operatives.

On another issue, Petraeus acknowledged that President Obama's decision to withdraw 33,000 troops from Afghanistan by next summer may be "more aggressive" than what he preferred but admitted that the president had more considerations beyond military plans.

“The fact is, there has never been a military commander in history who has had all the forces that he would like to have, for all the time, with all the money, all the authorities, and nowadays all the bandwidth as well,” Petraeus said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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