WASHINGTON, November 17 (RIA Novosti) - Former US spy chief David Petraeus testified on Friday that the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from the beginning saw terrorists’ hands in the Sept. 11 attack on a US embassy compound in Libya that left four Americans dead, according to US lawmakers.
In his closed-door testimony to the US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, Petraeus said the assault on the compound in the city of Benghazi was organized in part by “extremists” who were “al-Qaeda affiliates,” Democratic Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger told US media following the hearing.
The circumstances surrounding the attack have sparked a partisan battle in Washington, where Republicans have accused President Barack Obama’s administration of failing to protect the diplomats and initially suggesting publicly that the assault came amid spontaneous protests over an anti-Islam video posted on YouTube.
Christopher Stevens, the US ambassador to Libya, was among those killed in the siege.
Republican Rep. Peter King told reporters after the hearing that Petraeus’ testimony Friday appeared to differ from the testimony he gave three days after the attack.
“The clear impression we were given [earlier] was that the overwhelming amount of evidence was that it was it rose out of a spontaneous demonstration and that it was not a terrorist attack," King said.
Petraeus, who also testified before the US Senate Intelligence Committee Friday, did not give any statements following the hearings. His testimony came one week after he resigned as CIA Director over an extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell.
Petraeus did not “address any specifics of the affair” during his testimony before the House committee, Democratic Rep. Jim Langevin was cited by Reuters as saying.
“What he did say in his opening statement was that he regrets the circumstances that led to his resignation,” Langevin said, Reuters reported.