Petraeus briefs lawmakers amid Middle East violence

Lawmakers were similarly tight-lipped about the briefing and the situation in Libya. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) told reporters it was a “good briefing” with Petraeus but declined to take questions.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) emphasized after the meeting the importance of keeping a careful eye on the rest of the region and making sure things don’t escalate further.

“One thing we know for sure is we should expect all the leaders in that region to condemn in the strongest possible terms this violence, and do everything within their capabilities to prevent it from spreading,” Rubio said.

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Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who sits in on Intelligence Committee briefings as ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, didn’t discuss the situation in Libya, but reiterated that he thought it would be “incredibly foolish” to cut aid to Libya or Egypt as a result of the violence.

In the aftermath of the attack in Libya, questions have been raised about how the attack occurred and whether the security situation at the consulate was sufficient. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Marines were not stationed at the consulate in Benghazi. 

Pentagon spokesman George Little said at a press briefing Thursday that while Marines are stationed at most embassies around the world, they are not at as many consulates. “My understanding is that, where appropriate and where called upon by the State Department, we do provide Marines at some consulates around the world,” Little said.