Entries in House Intelligence Committee (5)


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


Intelligence Committees Hold Hearings into Benghazi Attack

STR/AFP/GettyImages(WASHINGTON) -- The House and Senate Intelligence Committees began closed-door hearings Thursday on the deadly Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, with lawmakers hearing testimony from CIA acting director Mike Morell, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and others.

The hearings included the screening of video from a number of sources that captured the attack as it unfolded.  The footage also included video shot from an unmanned aerial drone.

After more than four hours behind closed doors, Senate Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein emerged and said a lot of light was shown on the situation by the testimony from military and diplomatic officials, but she declined to offer an opinion, saying the fact-finding continues.  Feinstein stated that there would be several more closed-door sessions.

On Friday morning, former CIA Director David Petraeus will testify behind closed doors about the attack on Benghazi.  The retired Army general, who once commanded U.S. forces in Afghanistan, reportedly is eager to set out a timeline of events leading up to and during the deadly attack.

In late October, Petraeus traveled to Libya to conduct his own review of the Benghazi attack.  While in Tripoli, he personally questioned the CIA station chief and other CIA personnel who were in Benghazi when the attack occurred.

Petraeus is not expected to discuss his resignation or his affair with Paula Broadwell.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gen. David Petraeus to Testify on Libya Attacks

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Former CIA director David Petraeus is set to head to Capitol Hill on Friday to testify before the House Intelligence Committee about the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that led to multiple deaths.

Petraeus, who resigned last week after disclosing an extramarital affair, is expected to defend the CIA's actions during the attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

The retired Army general, who once commanded U.S. forces in Afghanistan, is reportedly eager to set out a timeline of events leading up to and during the deadly attack.

Spokesmen for the committee have said that the hearing will be closed to the public. Petraeus is not expected to discuss his resignation or the affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell.

Also on Friday, Petraeus will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Senate announced Thursday morning.  That hearing will be a closed session as well.

Adm. William H. McRaven, the head of U.S. Special Operations Command and the planner of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in 2010, on Wednesday night called Petraeus "an American hero."  The praise came at The Hero Summit, an event sponsored by Newsweek-Daily Beast honoring the military.

"[Petraeus ] was the finest general I ever worked for, period." McRaven said, adding, "I don't condone what he did, because Holly Petraeus is also a great American hero."

During the interview with Charlie Rose, McRaven also touched on Gen. John Allen, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and the second top military official, who has become embroiled on the Petraeus scandal for his relationship with Florida socialite Jill Kelley, who received threatening emails from Broadwell.  McRaven said he believes Allen's veracity will shine through.

Allen, a four-star Marine general, is being investigated by the Pentagon's inspector general for "potentially inappropriate" emails with Kelley, a Tampa, Fla.-area military supporter.

"[Allen is] the finest officer in the U.S. military right now, and he is a man of incredible integrity, and I think the facts will bear that out," McRaven said.

President Obama said earlier this week that he continues to have "faith" in Allen, according to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


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


Don't Arm Libyan Rebels, Intel Committee Chairman Says

MUSTAFA OZER/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In a terse and strongly worded statement, the House Intelligence Committee chairman says, essentially, he’s not going to play Charlie Wilson in the Libyan conflict. Arming the rebels in Libya the way we armed the rebels in Afghanistan during the 1980s, he says, would be a mistake.

“It’s safe to say what the rebels stand against, but we are a long way from an understanding of what they stand for,” Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said.  “We don’t have to look very far back in history to find examples of the unintended consequences of passing out advanced weapons to a group of fighters we didn’t know as well as we should have.”

“We need to be very careful before rushing into a decision that could come back to haunt us.”

Rogers was an early advocate of using the U.S. military to impose a no fly zone.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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