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Coats to sit on Benghazi panel

Petraeus will testify on attacks that left 4 dead


– Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., will be among the senators who will question former CIA Director David Petraeus at a closed hearing planned for today.

Coats said Wednesday that the Senate Intelligence Committee, of which he is a member, will limit its queries to the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

Asked whether he was concerned that Petraeus’ admitted extramarital affair might have compromised national security, Coats said in an interview: “I think there are plenty of concerns. … But we would like our first meeting with Gen. Petraeus to be focused strictly on Benghazi.”

He called Petraeus, who commanded U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan before leading the CIA, “someone who is better connected and more knowledgeable than anyone else relative to Middle East politics and conflicts.”

Officials from the CIA, the State Department and the FBI are also expected to testify at today’s hearing, said Coats, the only Hoosier on the 15-member committee.

Coats is among senators who are unhappy about the speed and accuracy of the Obama administration’s release of information about the terrorist attacks, which at first were blamed on Libyans who were protesting an online film offensive to Muslims.

“We want to get to the bottom of it as to the why, the how, the who and the what. And we’ve not been getting that information from the administration,” Coats said.

He stressed that the probe is a bipartisan effort, noting that panel Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has been persistent in demanding details on the attacks.

“Many of us are very upset over the fact that here we are, eight weeks later, and we still don’t have information and documents and other things that need to be released and that we need to see,” Coats said.