More than two months after the Sept. 11 attack on the American compound in Benghazi, Libya, key congressional committees will hear next week from CIA Director David Petraeus and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper about the assault, according to sources.
The Intelligence Committees of the Senate and House of Representatives will get testimony from those officials and others at a pair of hearings next Thursday. Both sessions will take place behind closed doors.
The Senate Intelligence Committee will also hear from FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce, an expert on the agency's counterterrorism and counterintelligence efforts. The FBI has been investigating the attack. Also testifying will be Undersecretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy, who oversees all department personnel, facilities and operations, and National Counterterrorism Center Director Matt Olsen.
The House Intelligence Committee will also hear from Olsen.
Lawmakers and staff have been receiving briefings from the administration since the attack occurred.Republicans have sharply criticized the Obama administration's response to the attack, which claimed the lives of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Republicans have suggested that the State Department ignored reasonable requests for tighter security at the compound in the face of attacks and threats on Western facilities in the eastern Libyan city. And they have accused the administration of trying to cover up the nature of the attack by initially pinning blame on Muslim anger at an Internet video ridiculing Islam, rather than acknowledge that the strike was the work of terrorists.
The White House counters that Obama linked the violence in Libya with the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks as "acts of terror" starting Sept. 12. (Intelligence officials, though, sometimes draw a distinction: Grocers with guns can carry out an "act of terror," they say; "terrorism" is the work of extremist groups.) Aides have denied any wrongdoing and denounced what they describe as Republicans "politicizing" the deaths of Americans overseas. White House officials say the public description of the assault changed as the intelligence changed. But intelligence officials branded the attack terrorism on "Day One."
Some Republicans complained about scheduling the Senate hearing after the November election, which saw President Barack Obama swept to a second term. The House of Representatives Intelligence Committee is run by Republicans.
Anonymous officials at the departments of State and Defense as well as inside the intelligence community have been defending their agencies' roles through the media.