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Wall Street Journal - U.S. Officials Brief Congress on Benghazi Attack

News Article

Location: Washington, DC


WASHINGTON--The Obama administration's latest attempt to quell Republican criticism of its handling of the attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, fell short on Wednesday when senior officials offered a classified briefing to every member of the House of Representatives.

The briefing by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and other intelligence and State Department officials was designed to provide a detailed account of the attack, its aftermath on the ground, and the hunt for the perpetrators, lawmakers said.

The briefing, which lasted more than 90 minutes, included a video and maps, said participants, who estimated the audience at more than 100 lawmakers and congressional aides.

Wednesday's briefing covered roughly the same material that intelligence officials provided last month to lawmakers on the House and Senate intelligence committees and top-ranking lawmakers on key committees that oversee national security affairs. It included some updates and additional details, particularly about the hunt for the perpetrators, said Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat who is a member of the intelligence panel.

For Virginia Republican Rep. Frank Wolf, however, the briefing raised more questions than it answered.

"It was informative, but it raised a lot of questions," he said in an interview after the briefing. "Some people got up and asked some very good questions, and there were some not very good answers."

He said the briefing reinforced his belief that high-profile public hearings are necessary to fully probe the attack. Rep. Wolf on Tuesday introduced a resolution to establish a select committee, which he likened to the panel that investigated the Watergate scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon.

Rep. Schiff described the presentation Wednesday as "well organized." A significant portion of the question-and-answer session was dominated by political questions about the famed "talking points" that were written by the Central Intelligence Agency to guide lawmakers and senior officials in speaking about the attacks publicly, he said.

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