By Jeremy Herb and Carlo Muñoz - 11/16/12 12:53 AM EST
“Director Petraeus went to Tripoli. He interviewed many of the people as I understand it that were involved,” said Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinIntel leaders push controversial encryption draft Democrats block energy spending bill over Iran amendment Durbin: Iran amendment could kill energy bill MORE (D-Calif.). “So the opportunity to get his views I think is very important.”
But the resignation has upped the stakes on the hearings, even if it isn’t the reason Petraeus is speaking. There's sure to be a throng of cameras outside the House hearing room, which is closed to the public.
And while Petraeus will be focused on Libya Friday, lawmakers have indicated they also have questions into the FBI investigation that led to his resignation and could launch inquiries into that as well.
Benghazi video shown: Lawmakers were shown video from surveillance cameras and a drone of the Benghazi attack during two lengthy briefings Thursday.
The House and Senate Intelligence committees held closed hearings Thursday with senior intelligence officials to discuss the Sept. 11 in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
Feinstein said her committee has already planned another two closed hearings on the matter, plus a public hearing to reveal the committee’s findings.
Petraeus was supposed to testify at Thursday’s hearing before he resigned, but now will get his own audience with the intelligence panels.
It will likely save him some time: the two Thursday hearings began at 10 a.m. and didn’t conclude until after 6 p.m., while Petraeus’s hearings are expected to be shorter.
Insider attacks drop: While U.S. leadership in Afghanistan is still in flux, one thing is clear: fewer Americans are dying at the hands of Afghan troops.
Instances of so-called "insider" attacks have come down dramatically compared to the spike in such attacks earlier this year, Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday.
The four-star general, who is slated to replace Gen. John Allen as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, told lawmakers it remained unclear whether the drop-off can be tied to increased efforts by Afghan and coalition forces to curb the attacks.
"It is too early to [determine] if it is a result of our successes" in counterintelligence and other U.S. and Afghan-led efforts to root out Taliban double agents from the ranks of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), Dunford said.
Beginning in early March, the number of insider attacks against U.S. forces swelled. To date, more than 60 allied troops, a majority of them American, have died at the hands of their Afghan counterparts.
As a result, Allen ordered the temporary suspension of all U.S. training mission of Afghan forces and all joint U.S.-Afghan combat operations.
U.S. and local Afghan commanders also ramped up counterintelligence efforts within the ANSF, busily planting dozens of intelligence officers within the military and national police forces across the country to ferret out Taliban operatives or sympathizers.
Since Allen lifted the training and joint operations ban earlier this year the attacks have subsided, according to Dunford.
DEFCON goes to Afghanistan: Starting Monday, DEFCON Hill blogger and The Hill staff writer Carlo Muñoz will be reporting from Afghanistan.
Munoz will be writing for DEFCON Hill and The Hill on the ground while covering U.S operations in eastern Afghanistan.
He is traveling on assignment for the U.S. Naval Institute, looking at Navy-led provincial reconstruction teams working along the volatile Afghan-Pakistan border.
The teams are part of the remaining 68,000-man American force in country, preparing to withdraw from Afghanistan in the next two years.
The border region in Eastern Afghanistan has been a flash point for U.S. troops, who have battled Pakistani-based terror groups like the Haqqani Network for months. Recently, the State Department added the Haqqanis to its official list of known terror groups, after several senior lawmakers pressed the department on the matter.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
Sen. Paul filibusters defense bill
Holder defends Petraeus investigation
Petraeus: CIA exit not tied to Libya
Senators silent on Allen’s
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