WASHINGTON (AP) — According to former CIA Director David Petraeus, classified intelligence showed that the deadly raid on the U.S. consulate in Libya was a terrorist attack. But he says the administration decided to withhold the suspected role of specific al-Qaida affiliates.
Lawmakers are providing details of the testimony by Petraeus today to members of House and Senate intelligence panels behind closed doors.
Petraeus told them that references to terrorist groups suspected of carrying out the violence were removed from the public explanation of what happened, so as not to tip off the groups that U.S. intelligence was on their trail.
He also said it initially was unclear whether militants infiltrated a demonstration to cover their attack.
After the hearing, lawmakers said Petraeus had testified that the CIA's draft talking points written in response to the assault had referred to it as a terrorist attack. But he also said the reference was removed from the final version -- although he wasn't sure which federal agency deleted it.
Democrats say he insisted it wasn't done for political reasons during the re-election campaign.
Petraeus told lawmakers that security at the consulate was so lax, attackers literally walked in and set fire to the facility, leading to the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens from smoke inhalation. Three other Americans were also killed.
244-w-36-(Jerry Bodlander, AP correspondent, with Senator Saxby Chambliss, ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee)--The former head of the CIA spent several hours briefing lawmakers about the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya. AP correspondent Jerry Bodlander reports. (16 Nov 2012)
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242-a-10-(Congressman C.A. 'Dutch' Ruppersberger, D-Md., ranking Democrat, House Intelligence Committee, with reporters after closed door committee meeting with David Petraeus)-"he handled Benghazi"-Congressman 'Dutch' Ruppersberger says the affair that cost David Petraeus his job as head of the CIA came up only in passing. (16 Nov 2012)
<<CUT *242 (11/16/12)>> 00:10 "he handled Benghazi"
209-a-13-(Congressman Peter King, R-N.Y., member, House Intelligence Committee, with reporters after closed door committee meeting with David Petraeus)-"was al-Qaida involvement"-House Intelligence Committee member Peter King says Petraeus told lawmakers the CIA talking points on the attack were changed. (16 Nov 2012)
<<CUT *209 (11/16/12)>> 00:13 "was al-Qaida involvement"
246-a-18-(Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairman, Senate Intelligence Committee, with reporters after closed door session with former CIA director David Petraeus)-"is a mistake"-Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein says the criticism of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice is wrong. (16 Nov 2012)
<<CUT *246 (11/16/12)>> 00:18 "is a mistake"
APPHOTO DCCO112: Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. is surrounded by reporters after speaking, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012, following a committee's closed-door hearing where former CIA Director David Petraeus testified on the Sept. 11, 2012 attack in Libya. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen) (16 Nov 2012)
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APPHOTO WX119: FILE - In this June 23, 2011 file photo, then-CIA Director-desigate Gen. David Petraeus testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. An anonymous email sent in May set off an elaborate chain of events that led to the downfall of former CIA Director David Petraeus, ensnared the top Afghan war chief and saw the Pentagon order a review of ethics training for senior officers. Lawmakers are demanding answers about who knew what and when. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File) (23 Jun 2011)
<<APPHOTO WX119 (06/23/11)>>