When it came to the controversy over descriptions of the attack offered by Rice during a September television interview, Senate Intelligence panel member Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said “what is very clear” is that the entire intelligence community signed off on the unclassified talking points that she used.
“So much of this confusion arises because of the difference between what is classified and what is unclassified,” he said. “So you hear different people saying different things at different times, because what is classified cannot be discussed publicly.”
Feinstein said the House panel requested the talking points that Rice eventually relied upon. “I don’t think she should be pilloried for this,” she said. “The way it keeps going, it’s almost as if the intent is to assassinate her character.”
Lawmakers said that House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., declared that questions about the affair that prompted Petraeus’ resignation were off limits, but Petraeus made clear that his resignation was not related to the fatal Benghazi attack.
Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Fla., said that he had a chance to talk to Petraeus in an unclassified setting about his departure from the spy agency.
“He told me he did something dishonorable, and resigning was something honorable,” said the chairman of the Defense Appropriations subcommittee, who attended the closed hearing.
Senators also said that they did not ask him about the affair. “We didn’t want to make it any more difficult for” Petraeus to testify on the Benghazi attack, Feinstein said. “We wanted to spare him that.”
Republicans said they wanted to know much more about the Benghazi attack, and more hearings are scheduled for next week. “I believe that there are still questions to be answered,” said Senate Intelligence panel member Dan Coats, R-Ind. “I think that anybody who is drawing conclusions based on these two hearings we’ve had, it’s a premature conclusion.”
Young said that “there are still a lot of questions,” adding, “A lot of that is classified information that should not be classified.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.