The leaders of the Senate intelligence committee praised CIA Director David H. Petraeus at a public hearing Tuesday, and criticized a Los Angeles Times story that said the retired Army general was working to improve relations with some members of Congress.
The story said some lawmakers and their staff had criticized Petraeus’ “guarded approach,” and that his transition from a 37-year military career to running the nation’s spy service had been difficult at times.
The story also described complaints that Petraeus had failed to adequately explain to the House and the Senate oversight committees why he had reduced the pace of CIA drone missile strikes in Pakistan after he took over the CIA last September.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, took issue with how Petraeus was portrayed in the story.
“Nothing could be farther from the truth,” Feinstein said at the start of a daylong hearing about global threats facing the United States. Seven top intelligence officials were arrayed in front of her, including Petraeus, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper and FBI director Robert S. Mueller III.
“He [Petraeus] has upheld his obligation to keep the committee informed,” Feinstein said.
“I spoke to the reporter on Friday and made clear that that has not been my experience,” she said. Feinstein’s comments were quoted in the story.
The ranking Republican on the committee, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), concurred with Feinstein. Petraeus “has been readily available to come to the committee on a formal and informal basis,” Chambliss said. “I am surprised there would be any question about that.”
Petraeus thanked the senators for their support and said that in the last five months, he has worked to shorten the time between when the CIA takes a significant action and when it notifies members Congress.
“Thank you for your comments on the agency’s efforts to keep the committee fully informed. We have worked to be accessible, and I think the facts reflect that,” Petraeus said.