Entries in Congressional hearing (3)


Ex-CIA Chief Testifies About Benghazi Investigation Behind Closed Doors

DoD photo by Petty Officer William Selby, U.S. Navy(WASHINGTON) -- Disgraced former CIA director Petraeus spent almost four hours in closed-door hearings before the House and Senate intelligence committees Friday morning to testify about what he learned first-hand about the Sept. 11 attack in the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

Democratic senators who emerged from the hearing said Petraeus' testimony supported U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice.

Rice, who could be nominated for Secretary of State by President Obama, has been accused by Republicans of trying to mislead the country by saying the attack was a spontaneous eruption rather than a failure to defend against a terrorist attack.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said Rice was speaking from talking points prepared by the CIA and approved by the intelligence committee.

"The key is that they were unclassified talking points at a very early stage. And I don't think she should be pilloried for this. She did what I would have done or anyone else would have done that was going on a weekend show," Feinstein said. "To say that she is unqualified to be Secretary of State I think is a mistake. And the way it keeps going it's almost as if the intent is to assassinate her character."

Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., said Petraeus' testimony "clarified some of the issues that were still a little cloudy" over the attacks.

Chambliss said Rice "went beyond" the talking points. "She even mentioned that under the leadership of Barack Obama we had decimated al Qaeda. Well, she knew at that time that al Qaeda was very likely responsible in part or in whole for the death of Ambassador Stevens," he said.

Petraeus was before the House committee for about 90 minutes, and then spent more than two hours before the Senate panel, but Congressional officials made sure that no one else got speak to or even see the former four-star general.

He was brought into the House before reporters were aware of his presence and Capitol Hill police cleared out a passage way from the House to the Senate, even requiring congressional staff to stay out of the hallways and elevators.

Feinstein attributed the heightened security to a concern for Petraeus' well-being.

"The general was both eager and willing to give us his views on this and his experience on it and that is very much appreciated particularly because of the situation. We didn't want to make it any more difficult for him. And you know, you people aren't always the easiest," Feinstein said, speaking to members of the press.

The committees had been pushing to hear from Petraeus about the Benghazi attack, particularly since he traveled to Libya and carried out his own investigation into what happened.

Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said the sex scandal that forced Petraeus to abruptly resign was not a factor in the hearing, which was confined to the terror 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, but 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 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.

He expressed regret for his affair during his opening statements before the Senate, but the committee was more interested in finding out what Petraeus learned from his trip to Libya in the days after the killings.

The Senate Intelligence Committee met for just under four hours on Thursday, hearing testimony from acting CIA Director Mike Morell and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, among others.

During Thursday's closed-door briefing, the committee members saw a film put together by the National Counterterrorism Center of the events in Benghazi. Also testifying Thursday were FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce, Under Secretary of State for Management Pat Kennedy and National Counterterrorism Center Director Matthew Olsen.

The week after next, the committee will resume with two full hearings. Feinstein predicted that the committee will then have an open, public hearing.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Birth-Control Hearing Was ‘Like Stepping Into a Time Machine’

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Showing an enlarged photograph of the all-male panel at Rep. Darrell Issa’s committee hearing Thursday,  a group of Democratic women senators took to the Senate floor Friday to protest the “assault on women,” for excluding a women’s perspective during the session on contraceptives.

“Reading the news this morning was like stepping into a time machine and going back 50 years,” Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said. “It’s a picture that says a thousand words, and it’s one that most women thought was left behind when pictures only came in black and white.”

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing on the contraceptive coverage rule called an all-male panel with no women representatives, prompting some women members of Congress to walk out of the hearing in protest. Issa, a Republican from California, is the committee chairman.

Democratic women senators Friday came to back them up in protest of the hearing.

“I’m disappointed. I know it’s a disappointment that’s shared by millions of women across this country,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., said. “I’m saddened that here we are in 2012 and a House committee would hold a hearing on women’s health and deny women the ability to share their perspective.”

Senator Murray said that while the recent “attacks” on women’s health care seem “swift and sudden,” she believes they are not.

“There is nothing new about these Republican attacks on our family planning decisions. In fact, from the moment they came into power, Republicans in the House of Representatives have been waging a war on women’s health.”

As for the hearing, Issa Thursday said Democrats could not add their witness because she was not a member of the clergy, but a student at Georgetown. He also faulted Democrats for not submitting the name of the witness, Georgetown Law Center student Sandra Fluke, in time.

Issa’s staff sent a letter to the Democrats, saying, “As the hearing is not about reproductive rights but instead about the administration’s actions as they relate to freedom of religion and conscience, he believes that Ms. Fluke is not an appropriate witness.”

But Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand, D-N.Y., promised that Democratic women senators will continue to stand up.

“If our Republican colleagues want to continue to take this issue head on, we will stand here as often as is necessary and draw a line in the sand that the Senate, the women of the Senate specifically, will continue to oppose these attacks on women’s rights and women’s health care.”

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said her 16-year-old grandson saw the photo and instantaneously knew something was off. “It’s all dudes,” Boxer said, quoting her grandson.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Congressional Hearing Explores Home-Grown Terrorism

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A congressional hearing into home grown terrorism called by New York Republican Congressman Peter King Thursday displayed sharp divisions over the what some saw as the singling out the Muslim community -- but most agreed it was a good step toward opening dialogue.  

Following the more than four hour long session, Congressman King spoke about the meeting. "I think the hysteria and the madness leading up to this hearing did nobody much good and certainly didn't reflect well on those who were reporting it."

Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca told the committee most mosques in his area cooperate with law enforcement---in fact, he said, many participate with leaders of other religions in a council to fight terrorism. But the family of a young Muslim-American who disappeared in Somalia, testified that they were intimidated in their Minneapolis mosque and warned not to talk to authorities.

Chairman King says there are too many American mosques that don't cooperate with law enforcement and welcome extremists, but overall, King was pleased with the result at the end of the day and added: "I am more convinced than ever that it was the appropriate hearing to hold.  I think we broke down a wall of political correctness on an issue which has to be addressed."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio