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Chris Matthews: Petraeus is 'only now giving us the straight skinny'

Finally, the truth comes out?

Finally, the truth comes out?

Disgraced former CIA Director David Petraeus testified behind closed doors on Friday before the House and Senate intelligence committees about the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Libya. According to several lawmakers in the room, Petraeus insisted that he said and always believed it was an act of terrorism.

But Hardball host Chris Matthews had a simple question on Friday: If Gen. David Petraeus is testifying that he knew the attacks on Benghazi involved terrorist elements from the start, why didn’t he tell U.N ambassador Susan Rice before she went on a slew of media interviews saying the siege was a response to an anti-Islam video?

The anti-Islam video theory turned out to be false, although Rice and President Obama insist that she was simply offering the public the best information she had at the time. Meanwhile, the GOP is up in arms, claiming the Obama administration misled the public on what really happened.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who was at the hearings,  insisted on the show that Rice “was given the best assessment the intelligence community had at the time.”  He said there was no evidence that Rice misled the public on purpose.

Matthews jumped in, “How can that be both true? If he gave her the honest testimony to give to the television programs that Sunday after the attack, which was a terrorist attack, then she never got told that. He knew it and didn’t tell her.”

Schiff disagreed. “No, he believed that it began as a protest, but he also believed that terrorists and extremists were  involved.” He said Petraeus learned the truth after he saw video evidence, well after Rice appeared on the show. Schiff acknowledged there were “legitimate questions about why didn’t get that evidence sooner.”

Petraeus resigned from his post last week, citing an extramarital affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell.

Matthews said he believed Rice was clean but his problem was with Petraeus. “From the day [Petraeus] saw the news reports…from the day how he saw how she categorized it as beginning as a protest and being hijacked….from the minute he heard her say that and learned it was not the case, why didn’t he correct the record?”

He continued: “When your pants are on fire, someone should tell you your pants on fire…[Petraeus] is only now giving us the straight skinny.”