Disgraced former CIA director David Petraeus slipped into a closed door hearing before the House Intelligence Committee this morning to testify about what he learned first-hand about the Sept. 11 attack in the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
Petraeus, who traveled to Libya and carried out his own investigation after the Benghazi attack, spoke and was questioned by the committee for about 90 minutes, committee chairman Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said after the hearing. Following the hearing, Petraeus moved onto a Senate Intelligence Committee in an underground meeting room within the Capitol Visitors Center.
King said the sex scandal that forced Petraeus to abruptly resign was not a factor in the hearing, which was confined to the terror attack that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
"Ten seconds into it, that was off to the side," King said, referring to the scandal.
The congressman said that what Petraeus told the panel "will all be classified other than it was clear it did not arise from a demonstration and it was a terror attack."
King said that Petraeus maintained that he said early on that the ambush was a result of terrorism, but King added that he remembered Petraeus and the Obama administration downplaying the role of an al Qaeda affiliate in the attack in the days after Stevens was killed. The administration initially said the attack grew out of a spontaneous demonstration against a video that lampooned the Prophet Mohammed.
"That is not my recollection" of what Petraeus initially said, King said today.
The congressman suggested that pressing Petraeus was awkward at times.
"It's a lot easier when you dislike the guy," King said.
Petraeus resigned last week after disclosing an extramarital affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell.
The committee was more interested in finding out what Petraeus learned from his trip to Libya in the days after the killings.
The Senate Intelligence Committees met for just under four hours on Thursday, hearing testimony from acting CIA Director Mike Morell and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, among others.
During Thursday's closed-door briefing, the committee members saw a film put together by the National Counterterrorism Center of the events in Benghazi. Also testifying Thursday were FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce, Under Secretary of State for Management Pat Kennedy, and National Counterterrorism Center Director Matthew Olsen.
"The film is a composite from a number of sources. It is real-time and does begin from when before the incident started and it goes through the incident and the exodus," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
She added that the footage includes video shot from an unmanned aerial vehicle. But she did not answer whether the video showed the ambassador, who was killed in the assault on the compound.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R- Ga., said that viewing the real-time video of the attack is very sobering.
"There were some very heroic acts that took place. That does not, in any way, minimize the fact that we lost four Americans," he said.
The week after next, the committee will resume with another two full hearings. Feinstein predicted that the committee will then have an open, public hearing.