Tags: Benghazi Scandal | Benghazi | Petraeus testimony

Peter King: Petraeus 'Definitive' — Video Led to Benghazi Attack

By    |   Friday, 05 Dec 2014 10:34 AM

Testimony from a Nov. 12, 2012 closed House session shows that at least five Republican House Intelligence Committee members, including Chairman Mike Rogers, thought former CIA chief David Petraeus misled them about the attack on the Benghazi, Libya diplomatic facility.

The testimony came just two months after the Sept. 11, 2012 siege that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other embassy staff personnel, has been newly declassified, reports Fox News, and shows the lawmakers recalling how Petraeus blamed the attacks on an Internet video and not a concentrated effort by the terrorist forces.

Testimony was heard from senior intelligence officer James Clapper, then-National Counterterrorism Center Director Matt Olsen; Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy; and then-acting CIA Director Michael Morell, who had stepped in after Petraeus resigned over an extramarital affair.

The lawmakers were also told, in the testimony, that Petraeus downplayed their concerns that mortars used during the attack indicated a planned incident, not a spontaneous reaction to the video, which ridiculed the prophet Mohammed.

"My strongest memory was Director Petraeus on the Friday after this event coming in and telling us this was all a spontaneous demonstration caused by a video," Texas Republican Rep. Mac Thornberry, who will take over as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee in January, testified.

New York GOP Rep. Peter King further testified that Petraeus was "definitive" when blaming the video, and did not talk about changing analysis of the event.

"The 90 percent conclusion that General Petraeus reached was that this was caused by the video, and it was a spontaneous demonstration," said King. "The one thing he was ruling out was terrorist involvement. I remember when the chairman [Mike Rogers] specifically mentioned to him about the mortar rounds, three mortar rounds landing at the Annex, could that be an indication of terrorist involvement. [Petraeus] said no. He said anybody in Libya could do that."

The House committee report shows details of the mortar strikes at the CIA annex at the base, including three rounds that were fired in just over a minute that killed former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, who were on the facility's roof.

"It's highly, if not 99.99 percent unlikely, that somebody just threw up a mortar tube and dropped some mortars in and hit, hit, hit the compound," said CIA contractor Kris Paronto, a witness to the attacks. "It's just not possible."

According to the report, the mortar team probably used a spotter to aim the shots, which came during the third part of the attack.

But in the hearing, Morell and other unnamed CIA officers defended Petraeus, and Rogers said the general went off-script.

"I want to be clear that our notes do not reflect that he said that," Rogers commented. "What you were talking about for the record was his talking points."

But committee Democrats, including ranking member Dutch Ruppersberger, were not as critical of Petraeus in the hearing.

"My recollection was that Petraeus, when I walked away, he basically said that he felt that his opinion at that time it was kind of an attack based on what happened with respect to the video. But he did give caveats…that (it) could change, and it evolved,” Ruppersberger said.

The lawmakers' recollections mean that Petraeus, who wrote a brief on Sept. 14, 2012 just after the attacks, was making statements in line with those that came from the State Department, which issued a press release before the attacks were over that blamed the film.

During other hearing testimony, Florida GOP Rep. Jeff Miller said that Petraeus "even went so far as to say that it had been put into Arabic language and then was put on this TV station, this cleric's TV station. I mean, [Petraeus] drove that in pretty hard when he was in here. "

And Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann said in her testimony that "it was said in here a little bit earlier that the CIA never said Benghazi was part of a Cairo protest and of the video. And we were given just the opposite message by the Director of the CIA" on Sept. 14.

Jack Keane, a retired four-star Army general and Fox News analyst who served as a mentor to Petraeus, defended his actions, saying he believed he was "providing the best available information to the committee from the CIA analysts."

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Testimony from a Nov. 12, 2012 closed House session shows that at least five Republican House Intelligence Committee members, including Chairman Mike Rogers, thought former CIA chief David Petraeus misled them about the attack on the Benghazi, Libya diplomatic facility.
Benghazi, Petraeus testimony
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2014-34-05
Friday, 05 Dec 2014 10:34 AM
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