Petraeus Testimony Starts, Security? Scandal? Both?



The hearings are supposed be about Benghazi. But it’ll be hard for members of Congress to resist questions about one of the more bizarre public official sex scandals in recent memory.

When retired Gen. David Petraeus slips into secure briefing rooms in the Capitol shortly after dawn on Friday morning, he’ll face House members and senators who were thrown for a loop by his resignation, which was caused by his extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell.

Yet lawmakers insist they’ll try to stick to questions about the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in Libya, which killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. There are many unanswered questions about what went wrong in Benghazi, and it’s the first chance for lawmakers to grill Petraeus.

His first stop Friday: a 7:30 a.m. meeting with the House Intelligence Committee. Next, he’ll amble across the Capitol for a 9 a.m. visit with the Senate Intelligence Committee. Both hearings are classified and closed to the public.

“I think it’s a good thing for our country; it’s a good thing for the public; it’s a good thing for General Petraeus, who is a well-respected individual,” said Maryland Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, the top Democrat on the House panel.

Questions about Broadwell

Petraeus still could get quizzed by lawmakers about his extramarital affair, his sudden resignation and whether he provided his onetime paramour any of the classified documents FBI agents found on her computer.

The circumstances surrounding his resignation came up at the end of the House Intelligence Committee briefing Thursday on Benghazi. And members leaving the meeting expressed concerns about the fact that Broadwell was in possession of a trove of classified information — even as Petraeus told a CNN Headline News reporter Thursday he didn’t slip her any secret information and resigned only over the affair.

“I am always concerned when classified information gets out. Part of our role on the Intelligence Committee is to make sure that doesn’t happen,” Ruppersberger told reporters Thursday. “But at this point, I’m not going to discuss that. It is an issue that will continue to be looked at.”

“I’m sure that issue will come up.”

Other members of the intelligence panels say they’ll stick to national security matters.

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