WASHINGTON -- Former CIA Director David Petraeus testified on Capitol Hill on Friday that the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was an act of terrorism committed by al Qaeda-linked militants.
That's according to U.S. Rep. Peter King of New York, who spoke to reporters after the closed hearing, which lasted an hour and 20 minutes.
Then, the attack was described as "spontaneous," the result of a protest against an anti-Muslim film that got out of control outside the compound.
King said that the word "spontaneous" was "minimized" during Petraeus' testimony Friday.
"He had told us that this was a terrorist attack and there were terrorists involved from the start," King said. "I told him, my questions, I had a very different recollection of that (earlier account)," he said. "The clear impression we (lawmakers) were given was that the overwhelming amount of evidence was that it arose out of a spontaneous demonstration and it was not a terrorist attack."
The cause of that discrepancy is unclear, King said.
Petraeus told Kyra Phillips of HLN, CNN's sister network, that his resignation was not linked to the Benghazi attack and that he never passed classified information to the woman he was having an affair with at the time -- sentiments he repeated at Friday's hearing, lawmakers said.
But Petraeus did not get into details about the reason why he resigned from the CIA a week ago: the exposure of an extramarital with his biographer, Paula Broadwell.
However, he did tell lawmakers during a 20-minute opening statement that he regretted the situation, King said.
The discussion of what spurred the Benghazi attack seemed to gain momentum thanks to comments Broadwell made in a speech last month at the University of Denver.
"I don't know if a lot of you have heard this, but the CIA annex had actually taken a couple of Libyan militia members prisoner, and they think that the attack on the consulate was an effort to get these prisoners back," she said.
"These detention claims are categorically not true. Nobody was ever held at the annex before, during or after the attacks," a senior intelligence official told CNN on Monday.
King told reporters that he likes Petraeus and that it was uncomfortable, at times, to interview a man he considers a friend.
"He was a strong soldier. Very professional, very knowledgeable, very strong," King said. "He's a solid guy. I consider him a friend, which made the questioning tough. You realize the human tragedy here."
The consulate attack, which occurred this past September 11, left four Americans dead, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.
Petraeus was not under oath, King said.
The event became a political hot button during a presidential election year and raised questions about everything from security at the compound to the Obama administration's initial description of the events.
Petraeus' surprise resignation last week added fuel to that debate. The United States' top spy publicly admitted to an extramarital affair, and critics of the administration suggested that his resignation might be linked to fallout over the attack.
Petraeus Testifies Libya Attack was Al Qaeda Terrorism
Petraeus didn't address extramarital affair that led to resignation.
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