Former CIA Director David Petraeus’s testimony on Capitol Hill about the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in Benghazi will hopefully satisfy skeptical lawmakers and quiet speculation that the Obama administration forced the retired general to resign over his extramarital affair.
Petraeus agreed to testify before Congress in close-door, Nov. 16 hearings at the insistence of lawmakers dissatisfied with the White House’s explanation of the events surrounding the violent attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that left four Americans dead. Petraeus resigned as CIA director Nov. 9 when his affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, became public.
His exit just before scheduled Benghazi hearings prompted speculation that the Obama administration was really trying to keep Petraeus from confirming lawmaker’s suspicions of a White House cover-up. Other critics have suggested that the White House will try to use Petraeus’s scandalous affair to discredit his testimony.
Insiders close to Petraeus, however, discount both theories. While Petraeus may have used poor judgement when he became intimate with Broadwell, his resignation was the attempt of an honorable man to protect the CIA from negative publicity, Petraeus supporters maintain. It’s also unlikely that the administration, or anyone else for that matter, could discredit Petreaus’s highly-respected career. It may be cliché, but when Petreaus talks, lawmakers listen.
And if President Obama really wanted to quiet speculation over the tragedy of Benghazi, he probably wouldn’t be considering the embattled United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice succeed Hilary Clinton as the next Secretary of State.
Obama recently defended Rice’s reputation at a press conference after Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham vowed to block Rice if Obama nominates her for the post. Lawmakers have taken issue with public comments Rice made attributing the Benghazi attack to the public outcry that emerged in response to an anti-Muslim video, and not a terrorist attack.
Initial reactions from lawmakers who attended the hearing appear to be mixed, but at least everyone seemed to focus on Benghazi and not the soap-opera-like details of the affair between Petraeus and Broadwell, according to media reports.