Former CIA Director David Petraeus testifying before lawmakers on Friday, claimed that classified intelligence strongly suggested the deadly raid on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was a terrorist attack, but that the Obama administration withheld the suspected role of specific al-Qaeda affiliates.
Petraeus, a decorated four-star Army general, resigned on Friday, November 9, as the nation’s spy chief as a result of an adulterous relationship with his biographer, Paula Broadwell.
Gen. Petraeus told the lawmakers that reason why the Obama White House and his security team avoided references to terrorist groups suspected of carrying out the violence was to prevent the perpetrators from knowing that the U.S. intelligence and counterterrorism officials were seeking their capture.
Gen. Petraeus gave testimony before the House and Senate intelligence committees in closed-door hearings as a result of discrepancies in statements made by members of the Obama administration in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks. The lawmakers and many within the counterterrorism community accused Obama’s minions of covering up events prior to and following the consulate attack that left four Americans, including a U.S. ambassador, dead. Their public descriptions contradicted the intelligence agencies’ reports.
Lawmakers, such as Rep. Peter King (R-NY), said Petraeus testified that the CIA’s draft talking points written in response to the assault on the diplomat post in Benghazi referred to it as a terrorist attack. But Petraeus told the lawmakers that references to terrorism were removed from the final version of the talking points, but that he did not know which federal agency or individual deleted the terrorism references.
Democrats said Petraeus made it clear the change was not made for political reasons during President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign, but critics believe that’s exactly what had happened.
“President Barack Obama repeatedly boasted that he ‘killed Osama’ as did his minions. He also claimed al-Qaeda’s influence was declining due to the killing of bin Laden and the killing of several terrorist commanders. However, Benghazi revealed that Islamic terrorists were far from being defeated,” said former police captain Sal Collatrella, who served in both terrorism and organized crime units.
Republicans remain highly critical of the administration’s handling of the case. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said that Petraeus’ testimony showed that “clearly the security measures were inadequate despite an overwhelming and growing amount of information that showed the area in Benghazi was dangerous, particularly on the night of Sept. 11.”
The former CIA chief told lawmakers that diplomatic security at the consulate was so minimal that protesters literally walked in and set fire to the facility, according to a congressional official. Petraeus also stated that the annex that housed a CIA team was much more protected than the consulate, but that the terrorists possessed enough firepower to breach the annex security measures.
Petraeus testified that the CIA draft written in response to the raid referred to militant groups Ansar al-Shariah and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb but those names were replaced with the word “extremist” in the final draft, according to Congressman Peter King on Fox News Channel.