Continued from page 1

Also Friday, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta sent a letter to Sen. John McCain of Arizona and other Republican senators explaining that the U.S. didn’t have any aircraft in the region that could have been deployed to help repel the attack.

Mr. Panetta said there were several hundred reports of flare-ups that day, and that there was no prior information that Benghazi could be a target, so no forces had been moved into position.

That answer left Mr. McCain and his colleagues all the more puzzled.

“The letter fails to address the most important question — why not?” Mr. McCain and five other Republican senators said.

Part of Congress‘ difficulty this week will be getting the witnesses it wants.

Mr. Petraeus was slated to testify before both House and Senate intelligence committees, but he withdrew in the wake of his stunning resignation last week after admitting to an extramarital affair.

After his resignation, it emerged that the retired four-star Army general had taken a personal role in the agency’s investigation into the Benghazi attack, flying to Libya himself and personally interviewing officials on the ground.

It was the report of this trip that Mrs. Feinstein said she is trying to obtain.

Acting CIA Director Michael J. Morrell will testify instead of Mr. Petraeus, along with Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce, State Department Undersecretary for Management Patrick F. Kennedy and the head of the National Counterterrorism Center, Matthew Olsen.

Lawmakers said they still expect to hear from Mr. Petraeus at some point.

Meanwhile, the House Foreign Affairs Committee had asked Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to testify publicly Wednesday about what went wrong Sept. 11. In her absence, they will hear from an investigator from the Government Accountability Office and an analyst at the Rand Corp.

In addition to those committees holding hearings this week, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, led by Rep. Darrell E. Issa, California Republican, has been leading its own investigation, which produced some of the documents that exposed the State Department’s initial refusal to send in more security to protect the consulate and its employees.

The committee has filed direct information requests with the administration, but most of the spectacular details it has uncovered came from unofficial sources within the government.

In the Senate, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee also has opened an investigation and has made information requests to the Defense and State departments and the director of national intelligence.

With so many inquiries, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and fellow Republicans have called for a single, select Senate committee to head an investigation that would cross jurisdictional lines and deliver a complete accounting.

Story Continues →