First Published: 2012-11-14

 

Petraeus sought to testify on Benghazi attack

 

Senators want to know why Obama administration delayed in acknowledging incident in Benghazi as terrorist attack.

 

Middle East Online

By Michael Mathes - WASHINGTON

Petraeus resigned last week when he admitted to having an extramarital affair

Republican and Democratic senators on Tuesday called for scandal-plagued CIA ex-director David Petraeus to testify about the deadly September 11 attack on the US mission in Benghazi, Libya.

"I believe he will (testify). I think he's a responsible person, and I believe he will come," Democrat Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said on CNN.

"So we are going to try to set that up today because his view as someone who was actually there... I think that's important for us to hear."

In the first congressional work week since the re-election of President Barack Obama, lawmakers had expected all eyes to be focused on several year-end fiscal challenges such as expiring tax breaks and across-the-board budget cuts.

But Benghazi -- and scandals that have rocked Obama's national security team -- are suddenly on the front burner. There are no fewer than five congressional hearings this week, most of them closed-door sessions, on what happened in Libya.

Feinstein and the intelligence committee's ranking Republican, Saxby Chambliss, met later Tuesday with CIA acting director Michael Morell, who arrived in the US Capitol with a large security detail that prevented reporters from approaching him.

Morell was expected to replace Petraeus in a number of the hearings, and CBS News reported he was to attend a House Intelligence Committee briefing on the FBI investigation that led to Petraeus's departure.

Petraeus resigned last week when he admitted to having an affair with a married military reservist and author of a fawning biography of the general.

Despite that scandal, lawmakers see Petraeus as potentially vital to their probe into exactly what happened in Benghazi on September 11 when four Americans were killed including US ambassador Christopher Stevens.

Republican Marco Rubio, who sits on the Senate's intelligence and foreign affairs committees, emerged from a classified briefing by the latter body to say there were many unanswered questions and that he hoped Petraeus and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would testify on the Libya attack.

"She has an invaluable role to play," Rubio told reporters. "I think we need to hear from David Petraeus as well."

Rubio said he and others wanted to know why the Obama administration delayed in acknowledging the incident in Benghazi as a terrorist attack.

He specifically addressed how Obama's UN ambassador Susan Rice went on TV talkshows five days after the Benghazi attack to describe the incident as a protest against an anti-Islam video that spun out of control.

"I don't think there is any reasonable doubt now that this was not a protest gone violent. This was an attack, by well armed, military-style individuals," Rubio said.

"What is real important to know is why did they wait so long... to publicly change their position on it."

Dick Durbin, the Senate's number three Democrat, said the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in its closed-door hearing received a "detailed chronology in terms of what happened on September 11," but would not go into details of events or materials shared with lawmakers.

Retiring Republican Senator Olympia Snowe also said she hoped Petraeus would testify on Capitol Hill.

"Absolutely, I think it would be critical to our efforts in the Senate Intelligence Committee" if Petraeus were to testify, Snowe told reporters.

"My understanding is he visited Benghazi to get firsthand an account and appraisal of the circumstances surrounding the horrific events on September 11."

Republican Senator James Risch, who like Rubio sits on both the intelligence and foreign relations committees, said major questions about Benghazi remained.

"We're hearing explanations, but there's a lot of us I think who want clearer explanations than what we're getting," Risch said.

 

Russian, Turkish FMs meet for first time since ties repaired

Four ministers sacked from Libya's unity government

At least 70 killed in north of Syria's Aleppo

Iranians mark annual Quds Day

Egypt becoming departure country for migrants to Europe

Turkish ship carrying Gaza aid leaves for Israel

Diplomatic quartet says Israel must cease settlement expansion

Monitor says Syrian regime pilot captured by rebels

Palestinian dies from tear gas fired by Israeli forces

Palestinian tries to stab Israeli in West Bank, shot dead

Ankara suicide attack mastermind killed

Istanbul airport attackers ‘planned hostage-taking’

Oil prices rise in Asia

US Navy probe finds leadership failings in Iran capture

Quartet report says Israel must urgently halt illegal settlement expansion

At least 70 killed in northern Aleppo clashes

Sisi praises Egyptian 'revolution' against Morsi

US-backed Syria rebels look to cut off ISIS from Iraq border

Egyptian Coptic priest shot dead in El-Arish

Iran sacks heads of four state banks over high pay

EU agrees to opens new chapter with Turkey on accession talks

Detained RSF Turkey representative released

Lebanese army says ISIS attacks foiled, 5 arrested

UN extends Darfur mission despite Sudan opposition

Air strikes kill 150 militants fleeing Fallujah

Turkey detains 13 over airport attack

Palestinian killed by Israeli troops after deadly attack

UN envoy seeks Syria peace talks’ resumption in July

Tunisian killed in Istanbul attack seeking to repatriate IS-linked son

Turkish forces kill 2 suspected IS jihadists at Syria border

Egypt president urges religious reforms to counter extremists

First aid convoy since 2012 enters two besieged Syria towns

Race to succeed Cameron begins after stunning Brexit vote

Yemen peace talks to take two-week break

Iraq secures $2.7 billion US military loan

ISIS pushes back Syria rebel offensive on Iraq route

Israel cabinet approves Turkey reconciliation deal

Turkey airport attack slams limping tourism industry

Putin lifts Turkey travel restrictions, orders trade 'normalised'

Fears for stranded Syrian refugees as Jordan blocks access

Bahrain activist back in jail despite worsening health

41 killed in Istanbul airport bomb, gun attacks

Witnesses recount Istanbul attack

Car bomb kills 10 in Kurdish-held Syria town

Ban to Israeli PM: Gaza blockade ‘collective punishment’