Senate intelligence committee shown real time video of Benghazi attack

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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Members of the Senate intelligence committee were shown real time video Thursday of the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the American Embassy in Benghazi.

The video “was a combination of video from surveillance cameras [inside the embassy] and drones,” Sen. Dan Coats told reporters as he left the hearing with acting CIA Director Michael Morrell, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and other intelligence officials.

“It is real time,” committee chairwoman Sen. Dianne Feinstein told reporters after. “It does begin from when the incident– before the incident started, and it goes through the incident and the exodus. I don’t think I should say anymore at this time.”

Feinstein declined to answer whether Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was one of four Americans killed that day, was visible in the video.

“It helped us understand what took place, answered some questions about the whole scenario,” Coats said.

“It gave us a good picture from a surveillance standpoint what was happening,” he added.

Coats, as well as Feinstein and committee Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss, who held a press conference after the hearing, remained extremely vague about the details of the video and what was discussed in the hearing as a whole, citing the “classified” nature of the information.

Coats would not comment on whether the video suggested the attacks were spontaneous, or whether it showed protesters chanting about the video that was originally believed to have sparked the attacks.

He also declined to comment on whether the video cast doubt on United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice’s original account of the incident.

“I can’t go into detail on that,” he said. “But as I said, there are things that have been answered, and other questions where we need additional information before we come to a conclusion.”

He said there had “been total cooperation in getting us the information necessary to answer those questions.”

Feinstein called it a “good hearing.”

“Were mistakes made? Yes. We know mistakes were made and we’ve got to learn from that,” Chambliss said.

Friday morning, the committee and its counterpart in the House of Representatives will speak to Gen. David Petraeus, who served as director of the CIA until he stepped down last week citing an extramarital affair.

Feinstein said she hoped to tap Petraeus’ initial knowledge of the incident.

“Petraeus went to Tripoli; he interviewed many of the people, as I understand it, that were involved,” she said. “And so the opportunity to get his views, I think, is very important.”

Feinstein would not comment on the ongoing FBI investigation into the circumstances surrounding Petraeus’ affair and the possibility that classified information was exposed. Asked whether it had been discussed in the hearing, Feinstein said, “We all know that that’s taking place.”

The House Committee on Intelligence held a briefing with Morell and Clapper earlier in the day in which they were shown the same video.

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