Lawmakers on intelligence committees met behind closed doors today to get a more detailed account of what happened during the September 11th attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, which left four Americans dead.
In closed-door sessions, lawmakers got their most comprehensive account to date of what happened on the ground in Benghazi on September 11, a senior intelligence official told CNN. They also heard an explanation as to what U.S. officials were doing behind the scenes to respond, the official said, adding that the presentation would clarify some mischaracterizations about the nature of the attack.
A video that the legislators saw shows the attack and Stevens being dragged out of a building, a source familiar with the House Intelligence Committee told CNN. Sen. Dan Coats, an Indiana Republican, said the footage was "a combination of video from a surveillance camera and a drone."
"It gave us a good picture, from the surveillance standpoint, what was happening," Coats said.
Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, described the session as "the most constructive briefing" the committee has had on the matter to date.
Meanwhile, Republican members of the House Foreign Affairs committee, which convened a panel of experts not directly connected with the Benghazi attack, offered sharp criticism of President Barack Obama's administration's handling of the matter.
"What is clear is that this administration, including the president himself, has intentionally misinformed -- read that, lied -- to the American people in the aftermath of this tragedy," said California Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher. "The arrogance and dishonesty reflected in all of this is a little bit breathtaking."
Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chair Saxby Chambliss appeared on Fox News’ Special Report tonight to talk about what he learned from the hearing. Chambliss told Chris Wallace, “it was very clear from day one this was a terrorist attack.”
“It’s just so obvious … it’d be obvious to any inexperienced individual that this was purely a terrorist attack.”
Chambliss addressed Susan Rice’s assertion in the days following the attack that the attack was in response to an anti-Islam video rather than a terrorism, saying, “What Susan Rice said was exactly what President Obama told her to say.”
The senator said he was looking forward to General Petraeus’ testimony Friday because the general had recently been to Libya and could provide perspective on what’s going on on the ground there. Chambliss also addressed claims made by Petraeus’ mistress, Paula Broadwell, that the CIA may have been holding several Libyans in the CIA annex. He said those claims were untrue and that the “CIA had no authority in September or in the months before that to hold any prisoners.”
According to Chambliss, there will be more hearings – one of which will be public. “This is too critical an issue – we’ve got four dead Americans […] The American people deserve to hear it in a public hearing.
Petraeus is slated to testify before House and Senate Intelligence Committees tomorrow.