Panetta to testify on Benghazi

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee on the attack on the U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya, an aide confirmed to The Hill.

The agreement to testify should remove one roadblock to the confirmation of former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), President Obama’s nominee to replace Panetta at the Pentagon.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he would place a hold on Hagel's nomination unless Panetta agreed to testify on what actions the Pentagon took before, during and after the Sept. 11, 2012, raid.

The attack on the U.S. facility in Benghazi by Libyan extremists killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.

“The one thing I’m not going to do is vote on a new secretary of Defense until the old secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, who I like very much, testifies about what happened in Benghazi,” Graham said on Monday.

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Earlier this month, lawmakers in the House and Senate grilled outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about the security failures that preceded the attack, as well as the Obama administration's changing description of it.

GOP lawmakers repeatedly questioned Clinton on the circumstances that led White House officials to initially claim the attack was the result of a demonstration gone awry. Administration officials later reversed course and acknowledged the consulate strike in Libya was the work of militant Islamic groups based in the country.

— Published at 3:24 p.m. and updated at 4:26 p.m.