(NBC) - September's terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya has become a battle between President Obama and Republican Senator John McCain, who insisted again Thursday the administration knew quickly that Al Qaeda had attacked.
"For the president of the United States, for two weeks afterwards, to deny that that was the case is either a cover-up or it is incompetence," McCain claims.
There had been earlier attacks in Benghazi, and a warning from Ambassador Chris Stevens the day he died.
House Republicans hammered the administration reaction during hearings Thursday.
"The people back at State here in Washington - continued to deny additional security and they continued to do away with security that was already there!" alleged Rep. Dan Burton of Indiana.
Democrats pushed back.
"To put this - lay this at the doorstep of the president or the Secretary of State, or the United Nations ambassador, you will find us ready and willing to resist, to the teeth," Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly.
The fight over the tragedy could be calmed by David Petraeus, who as CIA director went
to Benghazi to investigate and will testify to Congress on Friday.
Petraeus resigned in disgrace when he admitted adultery, but his believability and bipartisanship on national security means both sides will accept what he reports about Libya.