Petraeus tells Congress that ‘Obama administration altered CIA talking points’ on Benghazi

By Associated Press Reporter and Toby Harnden In Washington

PUBLISHED:08:56 EST, 16  November 2012| UPDATED:13:09 EST, 16 November 2012

Former CIA Director David Petraeus has told  Congress that the CIA believed almost immediately that al-Qaeda-linked  terrorists were behind the September 11th attacks in Benghazi, according to a  leading Republican congressman.

Representative Peter King of New York, a  member of the House Intelligence Committee that Petraeus briefed, said that the  former general left a ‘different impression’ today than he had when he testified  on Capitol Hill three days after the attack.

Now, King said, Petraeus insisted that the  ‘original talking points prepared by the CIA were different than the final ones  put out’ and used by Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, on  Sunday talk shows to say – incorrectly – that the attack was sparked by anger  over an anti-Islam video made in California.

'Morally reprehensible': Pictured with wife Holly behind him in June 2010 on his confirmation as Commander of US forces in Afghanistan, this was Gen David Petraeus's assessment of his own behaviour in his affair with Paula Broadwell.

Petraeus, pictured here in 2010, testified Friday  morning behind closed doors not seen by the media. Mistress Paula Broadwell was  barely mentioned

Capitol HillGuarded: A Capitol Hill Police officer guards a  staircase near the hearing room where former CIA Director David Petraeus is  testifying

‘The original talking points were much  more  specific about al-Qaeda involvement and yet the final ones just  said  “indications of extremists” even though it was clearly evident to  the CIA that  there was al-Qaeda involvement,’ King said.

The  former CIA director was giving classified testimony and was accompanied by a CIA  analyst. King said he did not speak under oath.

Petraeus arrived early Friday for closed  hearings on Capitol Hill as lawmakers seek details from the retired general  about the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed  the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.

King said that there was only brief mention  by Petraeus of his affair with biographer Paula Broadwell, which triggered his  shock resignation last Friday. ‘He was asked at the start did that have any  impact on his testimony, he said no…10 seconds into it, that was off to the  side.’

RiceIn defense: Petraeus testified that the original CIA  talking points showed a clear al-Qaeda involvement that Susan Rice ignored in  her later statements
BroadwellCircus: Petraeus’ affair with writer Paula Broadwell  turned the days testimony into a media circus as writers and photographers  scrambled catch the general
After the closed door hearing Rep. Peter King told the media that Petraeus's original talking points were different than the ones put out by the White House and Susan RiceAfter the closed door hearing Rep. Peter King told the  media that Petraeus’s original talking points were different than the ones put  out by the White House and Susan Rice
Young Looking for answers: Packs of reporters and camera crews  were on hand at the US Capitol hoping to catch Petraeus at the  highly-anticipated, closed-door hearing of the House Intelligence Committee but  only found committee members like Florida Rep. Charles Willima ‘Bill’ Young

The New York congressman said that Petraeus  had explained that the talking points ultimately used by Rice had been altered  by inputs by a number of other government agencies after the CIA had made its  assessment.

‘He said  that it goes though a long process, an interagency process and when they came  back it was taken out.’

The House Intelligence Committee, which was  hearing from Petraeus before he briefed the Senate Intelligence Committee, met  in a secure room several floors below the main area of the Capitol Visitors  Centre, where tourists gather when they are visiting Congress.

Petraeus Sneaky: Former CIA Director David Petraeus snuck out of  the U.S. Capitol’s parking garage after testifying before Congress about the  Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi

Republicans and some Democrats have demanded  an explanation of why  the Obama administration initially described the attack  at Benghazi as a protest gone awry, leading to the deaths of U.S. Ambassador  Christopher Stevens, diplomat Sean Smith and CIA contractors and former Navy  SEALS Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.

Benghazi Guarded: Police officers guard the Restricted  Access-Secure Room as the House Intelligence Committee conducts a hearing on  Benghazi with testimony from David Petraeus
Petraeus On record: These stairs lead to the Capitol Visitors  Center . Friday morning testimony happened in a secure room several floors below  the main area of the Visitors Center

Five days after attack, the administration  sent Rice onto the Sunday news shows to describe what precipitated the  assault. She relied on initial  intelligence talking points that subsequently proved  incorrect.

Deputy CIA Director Mark Morell told the  House committee on Thursday  that Rice was provided with an unclassified version  of events at the  American mission, according to Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a  committee  member.

The assessment concluded that a spontaneous  protest over an  anti-Muslim video had evolved into an attack on the American  consulate, a description that Rice presented in the television  interviews.

Patraeus hoped that by testifying he would  put an end to some of the wilder rumors following his resignation over reveal of  his affair with Paula Broadwell.

‘He did not like the conspiracies going  around that somehow he had something to hide on Benghazi,’ said retired Colonel  Peter Mansoor, who served as Petraeus’ executive officer in Iraq.

‘I think his offer to testify crossed with  the Congress’ request to him to testify. But anyway he looks forward to  that.’

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Categories: Escalation / Destabilization Conflict, Intelligence Gathering, M.I.C.E., Petraeus Compromise, Security

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