Feb. 12, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

David Petraeus Briefs Lawmakers on Mideast Developments

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain was critical of President Barack Obama's stewardship of foreign policy and his response to the current Middle East crisis.

With recent events in the Middle East drawing the attention of lawmakers, CIA Director David Petraeus today briefed members of the Senate Intelligence Committee and leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"Our entire committee, all 15 of us, eight Democrats, seven Republicans, were present for a briefing by Director Petraeus that lasted a couple of hours. And it was a very good briefing," Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the intelligence panel, told CNN.

The meeting, which also included Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and ranking member John McCain (R-Ariz.), came in response to the killing of four Americans in attacks on a U.S consulate in Libya. Unrest has also erupted at diplomatic posts in Egypt and Yemen.

"There was a protest, and it could well be that quickly, some two dozen people took that as an opportunity to attack," Feinstein said of the Libya attack. "They have attacked the Benghazi consulate before. I believe it was on June 6. So this is not a new thing," Feinstein said.

On embassy security, she noted, "I think one of the great lessons out of this is that our consulates in these very troubled nine Middle Eastern nations must be in very secure locations, if we have them there at all," Feinstein said.

Feinstein praised the cooperation coming from the Libyan government after the deaths of the four Americans, but she was more cautious about Egypt.

"I have helped Egypt in the past. I want to continue. But we need to see which way this government is going to go," Feinstein said. "And I think the statements of the government in the next few days, also, are going to indicate which way this government goes. And that's important for us here to listen to that."

On leaving the meeting, Levin said: "I have more concerns about [Egypt] than about Libya. I think the Libyan government is committed. I think the Egyptian government has been slow to respond. That is not based on any briefing."

According to reports, the Libyan government has made at least one arrest in the killing of Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

The incidents have raised questions about U.S. policy after the wave of uprisings in the Middle East during the past two years, particularly as elected governments have taken over in Libya, Egypt, Iraq and Afghanistan.

McCain was critical of President Barack Obama's stewardship of foreign policy and his response to the current crisis.

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