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Post Show Thoughts: Petraeus and the Benghazi Investigation

We had a busy Meet the Press this morning as the aftermath of General Petraeus' affair as well as his closed-door testimony to Congressional Intelligence committees about the attack in Benghazi have lit up Washington. 

The administration's response to the attack that left four Americans dead has been the subject of debate for both sides. United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice has come under fire for comments made on Meet the Press and other programs in mid-September arguing that what happened in Benghazi was a spontaneous demonstration in response to an anti-Islamic video posted on the internet rather than a planned terrorist attack. 

However, House Intelligence Chair Mike Rogers (R-MI) said this morning on the program that the intelligence community knew it was a terrorist attack from the beginning and some have questioned whether the administration withheld calling it a terror attack for political reasons. Rogers stopped short of an outright accusation as whether Rice's talking points were deliberately changed saying instead that it is dangerous to make those charges. "I know the narrative was wrong and the intelligence was right. Now, getting between there and there, I think you have to be careful about making those accusations."

Later in the program, Senator Lindsey Graham made the case that the Obama administration did change the story for political gain. Citing recent examples of the administration’s success that include public disclosure of classified information via press accounts, he questioned, " [I]f they would leak classified to make him look good, would they withhold information to prevent him from looking bad?  I think you could say, ‘Look at that.’”

Senate Intelligence Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) defended the administration saying, "There was only one thing that was changed.  And I've checked into this.  I believe it to be absolute fact.  And that was the word ‘consulate’ was changed to ‘mission.’  That's the only change that anyone in the White House made."

Chairman Rogers also made news by suggesting there was a chance the president knew about Petraeus' affair before he was officially told on election day. "I'm not sure the president was not told before election day." Rogers was quick to clarify his remarks, saying that there is a possibility and that they "could resolve this very quickly with a conversation in the intelligence spaces." Again, Feinstein was also quick to point out "there is no evidence of that."

It's a complex story that, as David points out above, we're sure will continue to develop. 

You can watch the entire program on our website including our roundtable that addressed more of the General Petraeus affair as well as the looming battle over the fiscal cliff in Washington.

We'll be back next week. If it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.