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Obama did not mislead on Libyan attacks – Petraeus

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David Petraeus, the disgraced former CIA director, waded into the political row over the Benghazi attacks, supporting White House claims that it did not knowingly mislead the public over who was responsible.

A week after being forced to resign over an extramarital affair, Mr Petraeus said that he did not believe the White House had "politicised" the fallout from the attacks on September 11, according to a member of congress present at a closed-door hearing.

Republicans have accused the Obama administration of lying about the killings in the run-up to this month's US election to avoid political flak over the failures that led to the death of the US ambassador to Libya and three other Americans.

'Adamant'

However, Adam Schiff, a Democrat member of the House intelligence committee, said Mr Petraeus had supported Mr Obama's repeated assurances that the public had been provided with the best available information at the time.

"The general was adamant there was no politicisation of the process," Mr Schiff said after the 90-minute testimony.

Republicans have cited television interviews given by Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations, five days after the attacks, in which she still blamed them on spontaneous mob violence caused by the release of an anti-Islam video.

This conflicted with early CIA intelligence reports – which were subsequently confirmed – that the attacks were, in fact, a targeted operation by a local al-Qa'ida-linked militant group, Ansar al-Sharia.

Mr Petraeus told the hearing that he had known very quickly it was a terrorist attack, and that CIA assessment had referred to it as such, but the reference to terrorism had been removed from the "talking points" received by Ms Rice.

According to Mr Schiff, the committee was told by Mr Petraeus that Ms Rice's comments in the interviews had "reflected the best intelligence at the time".

After the hearing, Republicans said that many questions still remained unanswered, pointing out that Mr Petraeus had been unable to clarify who was responsible for removing the references to terrorism. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent