Petraeus knew quickly who was behind attack

2012-11-16 13:00
An armed man waves his rifle as buildings and cars are engulfed in flames after being set on fire inside the US consulate compound in Benghazi. (File, AFP)

An armed man waves his rifle as buildings and cars are engulfed in flames after being set on fire inside the US consulate compound in Benghazi. (File, AFP)

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Washington - Former CIA director David Petraeus is to tell lawmakers he knew "almost immediately" after the attack on a US mission in Libya that al-Qaeda-linked Ansar al-Sharia was to blame, CNN reported on Thursday.

Petraeus, who stepped down last week amid revelations that he had an affair with his 40-year-old married biographer, is to testify on Friday before the House and Senate intelligence committees on the 11 September attack in Benghazi.

Lawmakers are probing the attack on the Benghazi consulate, in which Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three more Americans died, including two former Navy Seals working as paramilitary agents for Petraeus' CIA.

CNN, citing a source close to Petraeus familiar with his thinking on the issue, said the retired four-star general would "set the record straight and tell everything he knows".

The former CIA chief will say while he knew "almost immediately" that Ansar al-Sharia militants were to blame, there was "confusion" about the assault, with 20 intelligence reports linking it to an anti-Islamic video.

Obama, Rice under fire

"Those reports were disproven, but not until after he had briefed Capitol Hill. All of this took some time to sort out. That's what he wants to lay out tomorrow," said CNN's Pentagon reporter Barbara Starr.

President Barack Obama's administration is under fire from opposition Republicans over the inadequate security at the consulate and for giving a changing narrative about the assault.

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, has come under withering criticism for, five days after the attack, blaming it on a spontaneous demonstration against a film that had set off earlier riots in Cairo.

When asked how Petraeus might address that issue, CNN said its source suggested Rice may have gotten information from other parts of the administration, not just the intelligence community.

An outraged Obama on Wednesday accused Republicans, including leading Senator John McCain, of besmirching Rice's reputation without cause and said they should go after him on Benghazi rather than just pick on an easy target.

Read more on:    un  |  cia  |  david petraeus  |  barack obama  |  susan rice  |  us  |  benghazi attack
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