Benghazi panel to interview ex-CIA Director Petraeus

Benghazi panel to interview ex-CIA Director Petraeus
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Former CIA Director David Petraeus will be interviewed by the House Select Committee on Benghazi behind closed doors next month.

Petraeus’s testimony was one of five interviews announced by the panel's Republican leaders on Thursday. A handful of former State Department staffers will also be interviewed, with the sessions taking place through early January.

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GOP leaders of the committee insisted the interviews are proof of their “thorough, fact-centered investigation” digging deep into the events surrounding the 2012 terrorist attacks on a U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, even after the spotlight faded following Hillary Clinton’s high profile, marathon testimony in October.

Since that hearing, the panel has interviewed four additional witnesses behind closed doors, committee spokesman Jamal Ware said on Thursday: one each from the State and Defense departments, and two from the “national security community.”

In all, that adds up to a total of 59 witnesses who have appeared before the panel, he claimed, 50 of whom had not been previously interviewed by a congressional committee.

“This information, as well as other documents our investigators are still waiting to receive from the White House, State Department and the CIA, and other witnesses whose appearances are in the process of being scheduled, will inform the final, definitive report and recommendations the committee hopes to release within the next few months,” Ware said in a statement.

Petraeus, who left the CIA roughly two months after the Benghazi attacks in the midst of a scandal about an extramarital affair and security breach involving his mistress, will appear in a private hearing on Jan. 6. 

Before that, the committee will hear from former State Department officials Jeffrey Feltman, Charlene Lamb and Thomas Nides, who served in various policy and security roles for the department. They will appear on Dec. 8, 15 and 16, respectively.

An unidentified former deputy director in the State Department's Office of Maghreb Affairs will testify on Dec. 17.  

In addition, the committee plans to interview former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Patrick Kennedy, the State Department’s undersecretary for management, at an undisclosed date.

Republicans have been forced on the defensive over the committee in recent weeks, following comments linking its work to Clinton’s presidential campaign.

“Republicans squandered more than a year and a half and $5 million in taxpayer funds on their obsession with targeting Hillary Clinton, including abandoning plans they announced a year ago to hear from top defense and intelligence officials,” a Democratic committee spokesperson said in a statement after the GOP’s announcement.

“Now they are trying to save face by scheduling those interviews, but the price tag is millions more taxpayer dollars spent dragging this investigation unnecessarily into an election year.”

—Updated Friday at 8:18 a.m.