WASHINGTON: US lawmakers are set to hold hearings about the deadly Sept.11 assault on the mission in Benghazi, with disgraced former spy chief David Petraeus expected to testify as early as Thursday.
The White House has mounting questions over the attack in Libya that killed four Americans, including a US ambassador Chris Stevens and two former Navy SEALs, with leading Republican senators calling for “Watergate-style” hearings.
Republican lawmakers have accused the administration of failing to explain why there was not adequate security at the compound and why it took several days to provide a coherent account of the attack, blamed on militants.
Petraeus was scheduled to testify on the matter before the revelations of his affair with biographer Paula Broadwell forced his shock resignation as CIA director last week, just three days after Obama’s re-election.
The House intelligence committee announced late Wednesday that Petraeus would testify behind closed doors on Friday at 7:30am.
But Senator John McCain said Petraeus was lined up to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, raising the prospect of multiple congressional appearances this week for the fallen former general.
Lawmakers from both parties, and from the Senate as well as the House of Representatives, have clamored for Petraeus and others to speak at various classified hearings to learn more about the circumstances of the attack.
Obama has said he bears full responsibility for any failings connected to Benghazi and on Wednesday slammed Republican lawmakers for criticising US ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice over her statements on the attack.
Republicans have zeroed in on the shifting narrative of the assault, which the administration initially said had stemmed from a spontaneous protest sparked by an offensive anti-Islam video posted on the Internet. Rice delivered a version of that explanation on Sunday talk shows following the attack, but the administration later backtracked, admitting there had been no protest, but rather a coordinated assault by militants.
That has now led McCain and fellow Republican Senator Lindsey Graham to call for special “Watergate-style” hearings into the Benghazi attack and vow to thwart the promotion of Rice to secretary of state in Obama’s second term.