Petraeus Absolves Rice on Benghazi; Republicans Still Obsessively Nitpicking

Disgraced General and former CIA Chief David Petraeus testified on the Benghazi attacks in a closed Congressional hearing early this morning. Unsurprisingly, Republicans remain unsatisfied, and Rep. Peter King (D-NY) is running around suggesting that for some bizarre, unknown reason, the White House conspired to hide any terrorist involvement in the Benghazi attacks.

From The Washington Post:

After avoiding a swarm of awaiting reporters and photographers, former CIA director David Petraeus testified behind closed doors Friday that he believes the Sept. 11 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya was an act of terrorism that did not arise out of a spontaneous demonstration, according to a lawmaker who heard the testimony.

“He now clearly believes that it [the Sept. 11 attacks] did not arise out of a demonstration, that it was not spontaneous and it was clear terrorist involvement,” Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said.

Of course that is what everyone now believes, but Republicans seem determined to find some way to impeach President Obama over Benghazi regardless of what actually happened.

Petraeus gave a 20-minute opening statement to the House panel and took about 70 minutes of questions, according to King, who said that Petraeus testified Friday that the CIA gave the White House and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice information on the Benghazi attack that differed from Rice’s public comments on the incident….

Apparently the talking points were vetted by a number of agencies and at some point a line referring to a group associated with al Qaeda was removed. Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham have spent the past couple of days attacking U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice for comments she made on Sunday shows soon after the attacks. Her comments were based on the final talking points she, the White House, and Congress received from intelligence community.

Feinstein also rose to Rice’s defense, saying that the ambassador was using talking points based on the best available intelligence just days after the attack.

“They were unclassified talking points at a very early stage,” Feinstein said. “I don’t think she should be pilloried for this. She did what I would have done, or anyone else would have done that was going on a weekend show. We would have said, ‘What talking points can I use?’ and you’d get an unclassified version.”

The WaPo story quotes several Republican Congressmen, including John McCain, who

…called the former general’s testimony “comprehensive, I think it was important, it added to our ability to make judgments about what is clearly a failure of intelligence. He described his actions and that of his agency, their interaction with other agencies and I appreciate his service and his candor.”

The AP managed to find some Democrats to talk to.

After the hearings, lawmakers said Petraeus testified that the CIA’s draft talking points written in response to the assault on the diplomat post in Benghazi that killed four Americans referred to it as a terrorist attack. But Petraeus told the lawmakers that reference was removed from the final version, although he wasn’t sure which federal agency deleted it.

Democrats said Petraeus made it clear the change was not made for political reasons during President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.

“The general was adamant there was no politicization of the process, no White House interference or political agenda,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. “He completely debunked that idea.”

Schiff said Petraeus said Rice’s comments in the television interviews “reflected the best intelligence at the time that could be released publicly.”

In addition, Petraeus made it clear that he and others at the CIA approved the final draft of the talking points that were given to Susan Rice.

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., said Petraeus explained that the CIA’s draft points were sent to other intelligence agencies and to some federal agencies for review. Udall said Petraeus told them the final document was put in front of all the senior agency leaders, including Petraeus, and everyone signed off on it.

“The assessment that was publicly shared in unclassified talking points went through a process of editing,” Udall said. “The extremist description was put in because in an unclassified document you want to be careful who you identify as being involved.”


Schiff said Petraeus said Rice’s comments in the television interviews “reflected the best intelligence at the time that could be released publicly.”

“There was an interagency process to draft it, not a political process,” Schiff said. “They came up with the best assessment without compromising classified information or source or methods. So changes were made to protect classified information.”

Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said it’s clear that Rice “used the unclassified talking points that the entire intelligence community signed off on, so she did completely the appropriate thing.” He said the changes made to the draft accounts for the discrepancies with some of the reports that were made public showing that the intelligence community knew it was a terrorist attack all along.

And, as we all know, the day after the attacks President Obama referred to them as terrorist acts.

So that’s where it stands for now–until the next press conference by John McCain and his sidekicks Lindsey Graham, and Kelly Ayotte.

53 Comments on “Petraeus Absolves Rice on Benghazi; Republicans Still Obsessively Nitpicking”

  1. RalphB says:

    This ridiculous attempt at generating a scandal based on some kind of “smell test” is the hardest kind of thing to knock down because you don’t know what to rebut. Ever since it started I’ve had memories of the pseudo scandal around the death of Vince Foster floating around in the back of my mind. Lindsey Graham was part of that grave dancing when he was in the house and here he is again.

    I have little doubt that this will stop McCain’s little troika from screaming, but maybe it will give some of the press corps a little more backbone to push back on them. I know, I’m dreaming.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I think some Republicans are uncomfortable with McCain’s hysterical reaction to this. He seems a little unhinged, as the wingnuts like to say about liberals.

      • HT says:

        perhaps not unhinged – he’s at an age when dementia kicks in isn’t he? That would be really embarrassing for the other Repubs.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Maybe that thing in his cheek has spread to his brain.

      • HT says:

        what is saddest of McCain’s latest foray into insanity is that once upon a time, he was an honourable man. Today he’s a caricature of what he once was. It’s beyond time for him to retire.

    • ANonOMouse says:

      The GOP and it’s Fux News Channel have spent the past 3 years with their damned hair on fire over anything and everything Obama. First it was the birther, then the secret muslim and finally a campaign season trying to prosecute Obama over Solyndra,Fast & Furious and now their conspiracy hyperbole on Benghazi. Nothing will stick because nothing wrong was done. They have made themselves look like hysterical fools, probably because they are hysterical fools.

      And Sen. McPalin, needs to go on and retire before he completely disgraces himself beyond redemption. Kelly Ayotte would be wise to steer clear of Senators McPalin and Graham they have nothing to offer her but regret.

      Message to Graham: Your 57 years old, goddamit, come on out girl.

      • RalphB says:

        Mouse, maybe this helps explain Lindsey Graham’s histrionics.

        balloon-juice: Nothing he does can save him

        Poor Lindsey Graham. In less than eighteen months he’ll be defeated in South Carolina’s 2014 GOP primary. He is the number one target of the Club for Growth. He is talking tough about the UN Ambassador and yelling “Benghaz!” over and over again as if it is a magic word that will save him from doom. It won’t help. Count Chocola wants his blood.

        And this—more than anything else—explains every action Lindsey will take in the coming days, weeks and months.

        And it helps to explain John McCain’s bitter panic as well. Lindsey will be his last sycophant standing when the 113th Congress comes to town. Lindsey will be the last Senator left who will automatically treat everything McCain does as “awesome”.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        Thanks for sharing that Ralph, that helps clear it up a bit. I know nothing about SC politics, but I thought yesterdays eruption by McCain was particularly ill-timed considering he missed a committee meeting where Benghazi intelligence was being shared, opting instead to do a Benghazi Grandstand. He really does need to retire. He’s losing his boot licker Lieberman to retirement in January 2013, so it sounds plausible that the prospect of losing Graham to the TP has pushed him on over to senility. 🙂

      • dakinikat says:

        Media Matters ‏@mmfa

        Megyn Kelly and Fox News cover up acknowledgement that CIA Director Petraeus was OK with Benghazi talking points:

      • RalphB says:

        Damn, Fox blows chunks but we knew that already.

      • pdgrey says:

        Ralph, Dancn’ Dave will never let (hand waving like Red Foxx, Sandford and Son) Graham go away.

    • dakinikat says:

      They will do anything to impeach a democratic president. They still haven’t gotten over Watergate and they haven’t gotten over the Iran Contra Scandal. The best they can do is bj’s and trumped up charges surrounding stuff they don’t like and that they can get the media to grab on to

      • HT says:

        AT least Watergate and Iran contra were legitimate issues for impeachment. A blue dress and an embarrassed President who lied about a cigar and a star struck intern, not so much, particularly for the massive amount of taxpayer money expended and even more so when the main driver behind the whole debacle was involved in an extra marital affair while his wife was battling cancer. Irony – I wonder if repubs know the meaning of the word?

    • roofingbird says:

      i find myself having to defend McCain again and not out of any like for the guy.
      76 is not very old in today’s market.
      The first meaning of senile is old, not demented. Not everyone who is old becomes demented.
      I listened to the video and thought he sounded accurately and legitimately angry at a badgering reporter.
      I don’t know why he missed the meeting but I doubt it was due to “doddering”. He has plenty of help to remind him, even if it was.
      Old age dog whistles in an attempt to minimize him will not better any of us and ignores what might really be going on such as as mentioned below in the Huffpo article.

      Okay, I’ll stop pontificating.

      • roofingbird says:

        And just to further that point, let’s remember that there has been more than a little speculation on the chances of what would be a 75 year old woman running for president in 2016.

      • roofingbird says:

        Ok I’m wrong. she would be 69-77.

      • HT says:

        Bird, I agree not everyone who is older has an issue with dementia etc as I am from a family that lives longer than most of them like, and they all have full capabilities until they die. My point was that as a once honourable man, McCain has become a parody of what he used to be, and if he is in full control of his faculties, how does this happen?

      • roofingbird says:

        What exactly happened? All I see so far is that he didn’t attend a meeting and berated a harassing reporter. This appears to be along the same lines as when he was accused of being old/sick because he wore a zinc based skin protection on a trip to Iraq, and Biden was accused of being drunk in 2008 because he has a speech impediment.

      • roofingbird says:

        And McCain has always had a temper, that’s his personality.

      • RalphB says:

        It’s not missing a meeting, though when you’re holding a press conference bitching about a lack of information while the meeting is going on to answer your questions, you are an idiot.

        His whining hypocrisy about Benghazi is fucking overwhelming when considered in the light of his own past. Whether he’s past his prime or a first class partisan asshole is an open question but what he isn’t is an honorable man at this point.

      • roofingbird says:

        Thank you Ralph. That’s the kind of argument we should have. Though, I still don’t know if he missed the meeting, or if something else happened.

      • RalphB says:

        His spokesman said he missed the meeting because of a scheduling conflict. At this point, I don’t really believe he had anything else on his schedule other than his own news conference which occurred at the same time as the classified meeting.

        I don’t think he really wants answers to any questions or he would have attended the classified briefing. I believe what he wants is people to yell at in front of TV cameras so he can make accusations and not allow them to rebut them. That’s his specialty.

      • NW Luna says:

        Thanks for speaking up, rbird.

        Memory does slow down as we get older, but that starts in our mid to late 30s. Dementia is not inevitable. Being active mentally and physically are good ways to lower risk of pathological memory impairments such as dementia.

        Ageism is all too common in our culture. If you’re inclined to blame age for someone’s actions, do a quick check: “Would I think the same way about the person if s/he were 30, 40, or 50 instead of 75?”

        Some people are wacky at whatever age!

  2. pdgrey says:

    I feel like a stranger, I’ve had to be away so long. I left a comment in “some thread” I can’t remember now, it was the last comment on a thread, but the point I was making was Grumpy McWalnuts is just trying to say relevant because he is losing his chair in the Armed Forces Committee. And then I saw this today.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Hi PD,

      I saw your previous comment. It made sense. Thanks for the HuffPo link–that one’s new to me. Maybe McCain can create some controversy on the Indian Affairs Committee. I seriously doubt that there is going to be a “Watergate-style” select committee.

      • RalphB says:

        Since Reid and Boehner have both said no to the select committee, I think you’re right.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        Boehner know there’s no there, there! If he thought for a second there was he’d be all over it.

      • pdgrey says:

        I can’t get no satisfaction! My damn computer just blew up. I’m back for as long as i can keep it going. It’s some kind of power supply problem. I want to be here but it’s like power on power off, shit. I’ll just keep working on it. 🙂

      • pdgrey says:

        I fell of again, so i will make this quick, Has anyone noticed the BIGGEST thing to bring down the deficit is the pentagon and military spending and no one on either side is talking about it. I’m connecting it to Grumpy because I think the right and part of the left are using fear to keep the scared money cow, they all make money from the military.

      • NW Luna says:

        PD, yes, lots of us rank-and-file political junkies have noticed the $$$ in the defense budgets. Somewhere I saw a chart on the amount fighting two wars has cost us. Romney wanted to give the military more than they requested for budgets.

        More money for the cavalry and alfalfa, I suppose.

    • HT says:

      Hey pd, good to see you, or at least to read you!

      • HT says:

        PD, I know this sounds silly, but do you have a desktop or laptop? If a desktop, remove the tower outer shell, get the vacuum and clean the internals. Sometimes it is nothing more than too many dust bunnies in the machine interfering with the electrics.

      • pdgrey says:

        HT, thanks for the shout out. It’s a laptop, my dad actually stepped on it, and i replaced the keyboard,12 years old, really shitty, I want a new one! 🙂

  3. dakinikat says:

    Sheesh, never say die

    CNN Breaking News ‏@cnnbrk

    Florida judge denies U.S. Rep. Allen West’s request for fuller recount.

  4. pdgrey says:

    Well, I got it working for now, 🙂 Just in case I don’t come back here is is something funny.

  5. pdgrey says:

    Senator Grumpy was caught by CNN for not going to the hearing and then covers his old ass. Just listen to Bash and Blitzer say we all make mistakes.

  6. RalphB says:


    Hubble Pinpoints Most Ancient, Distant Galaxy Yet Observed — 13.3 Billion Light-Years Away

  7. pdgrey says:

    Wow, at the end of Chris Matthews the guy who wrote “Who Stole the American Dream”, here is a review. 401k Crap

  8. bostonboomer says:

    NYT has the full story on the Petraeus testimony:

    The recently resigned spy chief explained that references to terrorist groups suspected of carrying out the violence were removed from the public explanation of what caused the attack so as not to alert them that U.S. intelligence was on their trail, according to lawmakers who attended Petraeus’ private briefings.

    He also said it initially was unclear whether the militants had infiltrated a demonstration to cover their attack.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Adding to the explanation, a senior U.S. official familiar with the drafting of the points said later that a reason the references to al-Qaida were deleted was that the information came from classified sources and the links were, and still are, tenuous. The administration also did not want to prejudice a criminal investigation in its early stages, that official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the process publicly.

    • RalphB says:

      I would have bet on that explanation from day one. That’s why I was pissed when the first leaks came out in the Daily Beast about the terrorist angle. It made everyone harder to find.

      • pdgrey says:

        And no one is talking about the Twitt’s press shit before we even knew if anyone died. And Issa’s outing Libyan operatives trying to help the US.

  9. pdgrey says:

    Dak or BB, this article on SS and rich tax cuts is really nothing we haven’t talked about but the last update at the bottom about Caps, I would love you guys to talk about it.

  10. Anyone see article on SOS Clinton on de-escalation of the Israel / Gaza situation? Been looking for it but can’t find it.

  11. labman57 says:

    Republican leaders are so desperate to find something — anything — upon which to hang their “Obama should not have been reelected” hat that they are culling the tabloids and right wing conspiracy blog sites in search of kernels of scandal to serve as the basis for their faux outrage.

    Hence their headlong stumble into irrational accusations and indignant chest-thumping, sans sound evidence, against Ambassador Rice. And as we have seen numerous times, when reality conflicts with their hyperbolic rhetoric, they will almost always ignore reality.