Defense & National Security

Despite resignation, Senate may still call Petraeus

Despite resignation, Senate may still call Petraeus
In the wake of CIA director David Petraeus’s shocking and sudden resignation in the wake of an extramarital affair, Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said Sunday that Petraeus may be asked nonetheless to testify about security missteps and errors leading to the deaths of four Americans in a terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.

Petraeus, an Army four-star general and former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, was revered on both sides of the aisle as a strong and ethical leader. His admission Friday that he has been unfaithful to his wife of 38 years (it was subsequently revealed his paramour was his biographer, Paula Broadwell) caught members of Congress, even in the intelligence committees, by surprise, Feinstein said.

“We received no advance notice. It was like a lightning bolt,” she told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace in an interview.

Petraeus had been slated to testify to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees in a closed-door hearing about the CIA’s role in the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. It would have been his second appearance before congressional panels on the matter.

Petraeus went to Capitol Hill in the immediate wake of the attacks on Sept. 14, telling legislators in a briefing that the attacks were the result of a spontaneous riot, like a flash mob, caused by an offensive anti-muslim YouTube video. This narrative was thoroughly debunked in the weeks that followed, as the attacks were shown to be terror-connected. CIA leadership, Petraeus included, has also been called to answer for reports that CIA operators’ calls for help went unanswered during the hours in which the consulate was under siege.

Feinstein said she had questions of her own that needed answering.

“My biggest concern is there are literally hundreds of threat warnings (prior to the attacks) in the material that has been accumulated…the question I have is why wasn’t something done about it,” she told Wallace. “Changes were made, but the chances were not major.”

But Feinstein dismissed the idea that Benghazi fallout played any part in Petraeus’s resignation, saying that the evidence would lead all observers away from that theory.

While CIA acting director Mike Morell has replaced Petraeus as the CIA witness in Thursday’s Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Feinstein said the committee will not ignore the former director’s role in the events of Sept. 11 in the multi-hearing inquiry that was planned.

“Obviously, Gen. Petraeus, Director Petraeus will be a part of the hearing process,” she said. “…We may well (want to hear from him), and we may well ask.”

Senate Intelligence Committee ranking member Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) agreed.

“At the end of the day, I would not rule out Gen. Petraeus being called to testify, Chambliss said in an interview with ABC This Week’s host George Stephanopoulos Sunday morning. “That could happen at some point in time.”

Chambliss also agreed with Feinstein that Petraeus’s resignation was necessary because of his prestigious and high-security position.

“It would have been very difficult to continue in his position. If he had subordinates who had done what he did, how would he deal with that,” Chambliss said.

The Washington Times reports that House Republicans including Homeland Security Committee chairman Peter King (N.Y.) and Rep. Trey Gowdy (S.C.) are also saying they want to hear from Petraeus, resignation or not. The House Intelligence Committee has a closed-door hearing planned for Thursday as well.

On CBS’s Face the Nation, Senate Armed Services Committee senior member Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) proposed a collaborative congressional effort to determine what transpired in Benghazi, rather than the separate inquiries that are planned.

“I would suggest that we have a joint select committee of House and Senate members so we can do this together, not have three separate committees going off in different directions,” he said.

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