Gen. David Petraeus. Photo courtesy: AP.
WASHINGTON (AP) - According to former CIA Director David Petraeus, classified intelligence showed that the deadly raid on the U.S. consulate in Libya was a terrorist attack. But he says the administration decided to withhold the suspected role of specific al-Qaida affiliates.
Lawmakers are providing details of the testimony by Petraeus today to members of House and Senate intelligence panels behind closed doors.
Petraeus told them that references to terrorist groups suspected of carrying out the violence were removed from the public explanation of what happened, so as not to tip off the groups that U.S. intelligence was on their trail.
He also said it initially was unclear whether militants infiltrated a demonstration to cover their attack.
After the hearing, lawmakers said Petraeus had testified that the CIA's draft talking points written in response to the assault had referred to it as a terrorist attack. But he also said the reference was removed from the final version -- although he wasn't sure which federal agency deleted it.
Democrats say he insisted it wasn't done for political reasons during the re-election campaign.
Petraeus told lawmakers that security at the consulate was so lax, attackers literally walked in and set fire to the facility, leading to the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens from smoke inhalation. Three other Americans were also killed.