After Libya briefing: ‘We know mistakes were made’
The leaders of the Senate Intelligence committee emerged from a grueling four-hour briefing on Benghazi Thursday afternoon with questions still unanswered, but confidence that American error had contributed to the deaths of four Americans in a terrorist attack.
“Were mistakes made? Gosh, we know mistakes were made,” committee ranking member Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) told reporters. “Our membership has to be heard, ask tough questions of our witnesses, and we’re going to do that in our subsequent hearings.”
Chambliss would not elaborate on what mistakes had come to light, but press reports have questioned everything from the public timeline of events during the attack to the apparent lack of military response during the siege of the U.S. consulate compound in Benghazi. Four Americans, including U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed in the attack.
Committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said the hearing had featured video footage taken before, during, and after the Sept. 11 attacks, compiled by the National Counterterrorism Center from on-site cameras and an overhead predator drone. She would not discuss the nature of the footage or who appeared on it, but said it provided a real-time look at what had taken place during the violence.
The committee also heard testimony from Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Air Force Maj. Gen. Darryl Roberson, vice director of the Joint Staff, and U.S. Ambassador Patrick Kennedy.
“I think it was a good hearing,” Feinstein said. “I think it gave us an idea of the depth and breadth to this, of future areas to question, and we must continue to do so and plow through this until we believe we have enough information.”
The committee has two future hearings scheduled, in addition to a questioning of former CIA director David Petraeus this morning in closed session. Though Petraeus resigned last week after admitting an extramarital affair, Feinstein said it was important to hear from him as he had made the journey to Tripoli in the wake of the attacks to question U.S. officials on the ground.
Following the closed inquiries, Chambliss said the committee plans a public hearing on the events of Benghazi, though a date for that has not yet been set.
“The American people are going to have the opportunity to see the questions asked and get the answers to questions that may have been asked since Sept. 11 of this year,” he said.