David Petraeus’ testimony before the House and Senate intelligence committees Friday raised more questions about Libya and its aftermath than it answered.
According to people who attended the private sessions, the former CIA director testified that the CIA almost immediately labeled the Sept. 11 violence at the consulate and CIA annex in Benghazi as terrorist attacks. But somewhere along the way, Petraeus said, that description was scrubbed from the talking points intended for the public. He said he didn’t know who took out the language.
According to The Associated Press, Petraeus testified that a CIA summary of the attack mentioned militant groups Ansar al-Shariah and al-Qaida, but those names were replaced with the word “extremists” in the unclassified version. He said that was done so as not to tip off the groups that U.S. intelligence was on their trail.
Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham and others have sharply criticized UN Ambassador Susan Rice for saying, five days after the attacks, that they appeared to have been sparked by mobs angry over an anti-Muslim video.
Democrats defended Rice Friday, saying she was just using the edited talking points that the whole intelligence community approved. But removing the names of specific terrorist groups is one thing; labeling it spontaneous mob violence rather than a terrorist attack is quite another.
Perhaps even more disturbing: Petraeus told lawmakers that security at the consulate was so lax that protesters just walked in and set fire to it. How could that be? Congress should hold more hearings, and ask more questions.
Who’s selecting whom?
N.C. voters cast more ballots for Democrats than Republicans in congressional races last week. Despite that, Republicans dominated; they won nine of the 13 seats, and could still win a 10th. How can that be?
Republicans controlled the latest round of redistricting, and drew districts in a way that benefited the GOP. Democrats played the same game when they had the power.
It’s a crazy system in which politicians pick their voters instead of the other way around. North Carolina should join the states that have taken that power away. Our state should create an independent commission to do the map drawing. Or, as the N.C. Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform suggests, have professionals do it, bound by strict criteria like compactness and ignoring where incumbents live. The idea has bipartisan support, and passed the House overwhelmingly in 2011. Next legislative session, the Senate should stop blocking the move.
The one undecided U.S. House district Friday was the 7th, where Democratic incumbent Mike McIntyre clung Friday to a lead of 0.16 percent over Republican challenger David Rouzer.
Rouzer, apparently, was feeling confident about mounting a comeback. WECT reported that Rouzer was spotted in Washington, D.C., taking part in a class photo for newly elected members of Congress.
Does he know something we don’t?
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