Former CIA Director General David Petraeus testified today before Congress in closed-door hearings on the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., vice chairman of the Republican Conference and member of the Intelligence Committee told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell that Petraeus testified that he knew the situation at the Benghazi consulate was a terrorist attack from the start.
“He said there was involvement of terror groups in all likelihood in what was happening,” Blunt said of Petraeus’s testimony.
Asked whether there was a disconnect between what Petraeus testified he knew and what the White House said publicly in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2012 attack, Blunt said, “I think so and I’ve thought so the whole time.”
He echoed comments earlier today by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., who told reporters that early on Petraeus had called the violence an act of terror.
But King said he “had a very different recollection” of what Patreaus said in the wake of the attack. “The clear impression that we were given was that the overwhelming amount of evidence was that it arose out of a spontaneous demonstration and it was not a terrorist attack,” King said today.
Blunt spoke to the skepticism surrounding U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s account of the violence in Benghazi in the days immediately after the attack. He told Andrea Mitchell Reports, “Susan Rice has lots of briefings, just like I believe she has access to the president’s daily brief information. What did the president know, what did she know, and was she given information she knew not to be accurate? She may just know exactly what she said, and if that’s the case, I’m wondering why five days later the White House has her out there saying things that clearly was not in agreement with the CIA’s early analysis of what had really happened.”
Like many of his colleagues in recent days, Blunt praised Petraeus’s work and called his demeanor at today’s hearing “very professional.”
“I think there was incredible confidence in his leadership at the CIA and his openness with us about intelligence information and activities and I think it’d be safe to say that the entire committee showed lots of regret that he was having to leave this job, but somebody else is going to have to decide later whether his judgment was something that ought to be questioned about how he used CIA resources. I’d be shocked, I’d be more shocked if that was the case,” Blunt said.