David Petraeus’ final days as CIA director were marred by strained relations with other U.S. agency chiefs over how the CIA should respond to mounting criticism regarding the Sept. 11 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The retired four-star general “wanted his aides to push back hard and release their own timeline” of the assault on the U.S. diplomatic compound and nearby CIA safe house, in order to “set the record straight and paint the CIA’s role in a more favorable light.”
National Intelligence Director James Clapper, the Pentagon and other agencies opposed the idea but Petraeus directed his aides to proceed, the Journal reported:
As questions mounted, a Fox News report Oct. 26 alleged that the CIA delayed sending a security force to protect U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and others who were under attack. Mr. Stevens and three other Americans died.
The CIA denied the report, then began pulling together its own timeline of events.
The Pentagon, the State Department and other agencies objected to Mr. Petraeus’s decision to mount a solo defense. “We conveyed our objections. Multiple agencies did,” a senior military official said.
Mr. Petraeus’s decision to release the CIA’s timeline to the press didn’t sit well with Mr. Clapper, who was unaware it would be made public, officials said. Other agencies saw Mr. Petraeus’s decision as a step aimed at presenting the CIA and Mr. Petraeus in the best light and forcing them to accept the brunt of the criticism.
Petraeus resigned last week after admitting to having an extramarital affair. He has told HLN’s Kyra Phillips that his resignation had nothing to do with Benghazi and was solely related to a “personal failing.”
Petraeus is set to testify about the Libya attacks before the House Intelligence committee Friday during a closed-door hearing.
Fox News military adviser and former Navy Captain Chuck Nash discussed the Journal report: