Israel using Gaza as "warm-up" round for Iran?

Israel may soon take its airstrikes into Hamas-controlled Gaza to Lebanon, as practice for "a likely war with Iran," Washington Post defense writer David Ignatius suggested Sunday on "Face the Nation."

"Some people think... Israel [is] testing the rockets that would be fired against [Iran] from Gaza, next from Lebanon," Ignatius said during a roundtable discussion. "So we may see something with Lebanon soon because it's a preliminary; this is a, kind of, warm-up round for the real conflagration that's ahead that involves Iran."

Tom Ricks, author of the new book called "The Generals: American Military Command From World War II to Today," agreed there's a good chance Israel would strike Iran to try to take out its nuclear facilities - "especially given the timing of the Gaza thing," he said. "They waited until after the elections were over, and now they're getting down to business."

"Election season" also played a role, CBS News correspondent Bob Orr said, on the level of attention to details involving the September 11 terrorist attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

"The people I talk to at the CIA and other places around town knew pretty early on that there were elements of Islamic radical groups involved in the attack," Orr said. President Obama and his administration were initially hesitant to classify the attack, which killed four Americans, as an act of terror.

"When the information got over to the White House, al Qaeda became 'extremists,' and when Susan Rice went on television, went on ['Face the Nation'] to talk about what she knew, she took perhaps the most benign interpretation of the information in front of her," Orr said, referring to Rice's statement days after the attack that she believed it to be a "spontaneous" act. "But to be clear, this happened in the political season when everything is politicalized and put through the prism."

Rice, who is on the short list to succeed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has become a political punching bag for Republicans who suggest the administration was involved in a "cover-up" of the security issues that allowed the attack. Congressional hearings kicked off last week investigating the lead-up and handling of the tragedy.

Currently in the investigation process, CBS News correspondent Margaret Brennan said, "We're really stuck in this lightning rod right now, this question of why the - 'the T word' and al Qaeda were classified when we knew within the first 24 hours there was credible intelligence that suggested that's what happened in Benghazi."

Friday's top headline was that former CIA director David Petraeus testified in the hearing, despite being embroiled in a scandal stemming from his extramarital affair with biographer Paula Broadwell and subsequent resignation. The ordeal has spilled into at least three investigations, out of which Orr said he expects at least one prosecution.

"There's going to be a lot of political pressure, I think, on the FBI at the end of the day to produce something... At the end of the day, it's hard to imagine you dust your hands off and say, well, that was messy,'" he said. The most likely target of that prosecution is Broadwell, Orr speculated, who was found to have classified information - which she was originally privy to - in her home.

Particularly since Broadwell has been cooperative with the investigation, he noted, "it really would be a relative smack on the hands, I think, to prosecute that charge, but nevertheless it might produce something at the end of the day." Ricks added: "This sort of technical thing of, you had it on the wrong laptop, I just find that sort of the smallest bureaucratic possible outcome and almost meaningless."

  • Lindsey Boerma On Twitter»

    Lindsey Boerma is senior video producer for CBSNews.com.

The all new
CBS News App for Android® for iPad® for iPhone®
Fully redesigned. Featuring CBSN, 24/7 live news. Get the App