Lawmakers Blast Administration During Benghazi Hearing

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WASHINGTON - More questions than answers are still being raised about the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

It's been two months since the deadly attack and furious lawmakers are still trying to get to the bottom of what happened, holding multiple hearings on Capitol Hill in the Senate and House.

The tone of the hearings was set from the very start.

"President Obama is sadly mistaken if he thinks the House of Representatives won't get to the bottom of the Benghazi tragedy and hold him responsible if the evidence points to the White House," Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., said during a House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing.

"This administration continues to put out things that are just not quite true," Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, said.

"What makes this harder for me to stomach is the administration's complete failure to provide answers," Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, said.

In an effort to get answers about the Benghazi terrorist attack on Sept. 11, partisan lines were clearly drawn.

"If you want an honest investigation of this tragedy, we will join you. But if you want to persist in trying somehow to put this, lay this at the door step of the President or the Secretary of State or the U.N. ambassador, you'll find us ready and willing to resist to the teeth," Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., said.

But little new information came to light in the first open hearing since the election.

Instead, the hearing was more of an opportunity for lawmakers to rehash their concerns about the American outpost's lack of security and the miscommunication in the initial days after the deaths of the ambassador, another State Department official, and two CIA agents.

Republicans focused their fury on administration officials, like U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, for blaming an anti-Islamic video immediately after the attack. Rank-and-file Democrats and the president defended her.

In a press conference Wednesday, President Obama lashed out at Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina over their criticism of Rice, who early on insisted the attacks were nothing more than a protest gone wrong.

"If Sens. McCain and Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me," he said. "But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador, who had nothing to do with Benghazi and to besmirch her reputation, is outrageous."

"I think it is important for us to find out exactly what happened in Benghazi, and I'm happy to cooperate in any way that Congress wants," the president said.

The senators quickly fired back blistering responses.

"If the president thinks that we are picking on people, he really does not have any idea of how serious this issue is," McCain said.

Graham responded, saying, "Don't think for one minute that I don't hold you responsible. I think you failed as commander-in-chief before, during, and after the attack."

A growing number of lawmakers are calling for special committees or investigators to oversee the outstanding questions. There's even a petition with more than 100,000 names of Americans calling for a special prosecutor to investigate the events surrounding the attacks. The State Department and FBI are still working on their own independent investigations.

Petreaus Testimony

Meanwhile, newly resigned CIA Director David Petraeus will testify before Congress during the Libya hearings. He is set to appear before the House Intelligence Committee Friday in a closed door session.

Petraeus traveled to Benghazi to personally investigate the attack shortly after the incident. The four-star general resigned his position as CIA director on friday, citing an extramarital affair.

CBN News recently spoke with Retired Army Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, who said he's known Petraeus for nearly 20 years.

Boykin said his friend didn't make a mistake, he made a choice.

"He is another example of how when you don't have people around you that will speak the truth to you, that will hold you accountable and you are in a position of great power and authority, there is a likely hood that you are going to get into this kind of trouble when no one around you will speak the truth to you," he told CBN News. "And I think thats what happened with Dave Petraeus."

Petraeus said he did not pass classified information to his biographer Paula Broadwell, whom he had the affair with. He also said his resignation was not linked to the Benghazi attack.

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John Jessup

John Jessup

CBN News Anchor

John Jessup serves as the main news anchor for CBN, a position he assumed after 10 years reporting for the network in Washington, D.C. His work in broadcast news has earned him several awards in reporting, producing, and coordinating elections coverage. Follow John on Twitter @JohnCBNNews and "like" him at