Petraeus prostration: Benghazi blowback?

Pretty funny. CIA director David Petraeus, responsible for countless civilian deaths in his lawless drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal territories, resigns in contrition saying, "I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair." (NYT, Nov. 9) After reading numerous accounts, we still can't figure out exactly how this came to light, but it seems to have originated in an FBI investigation of harassing e-mails apparently sent to an unnamed third party by Petraeus' paramour and biographer Paula Broadwell. After the Benghazi blow-out in the presidential debate last month, we were left wondering how the CIA could not have known for two weeks after the fact that the consulate attack was an armed ("terrorist") attack and not just a rowdy demonstration. Now we are left wondering how the director of the CI goddam A could not have known that the FBI was reading his e-mail. And it appears that, at least in the minds of the paranoid, there may be a link between these two apparent lapses…

CBS News and Washington Times report that Petraeus had been scheduled to testify next week before the House and Senate intelligence committees on the Benghazi affair, and House Homeland Security Committee chair Peter King (R-NY) isn't letting him off the hook just becase he's no longer big cheese at the CIA: "I strongly believe that Gen. Petreaus has to testify, if not this week, then the following week or sometime very soon because it's not the CIA director who has to testify, it's the person who was involved at the time of Benghazi. And that was David Petreaus."

But it's Daily Caller that saves the really juicy quote (spoken by King in a DC area radio interview) for posterity:

King expressed skepticism about the circumstances and timing of Petraeus' resignation.

"The main issue is: Why was the investigation launched in the first place?" King asked. "There's more here. This story does not add up. There is something missing in the entire story. I don't see any good explanation coming out of this. There’s no way you can defend what the White House and the administration is saying. It just doesn’t make sense, and that’s the point I’m making."

The congressman, who is also a member of the House intelligence committee, said it was "really hard to believe" that President Barack Obama was unaware of the investigation into Petraeus' behavior until this week, as the White House has claimed.

"I mean think of the consequences of monitoring the e-mails of the CIA Director by the FBI—almost a competitive agency, in a way—and not telling the President about it, not telling the Congress about it. And then suddenly, on the night of or day or two after the Election, whichever time-frame we want to use, it becomes so important that it’s disclosed and Petraeus is out the door."

So, did the FBI (answerable to Obama's buddy Holder at the Justice Department) arrange this whole thing just to shut down Petraeus' congressional testimony? If so, it may backfire. Charles Krauthammer gloats: "Now that the [Benghazi] story is attached to a sex scandal, it will become a story that will be pursued by the media as was not pursued before." (, Nov. 10)

But the real conspiranoids go one better. The always breathless Global Research postulates that the US ambassador killed in the attack, Chris Stevens, was "murdered" because he had been running a clandestine operation out of Benghazi to arm the Syrian rebels. The conspiranoid screed links to an Oct. 19 report on Business Insider claiming that back in March 2011 "Stevens became the official US liaison to the al-Qaeda-linked Libyan opposition, working directly with Abdelhakim Belhadj of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group." However, Business Insider's own hyperlinked source for this claim, ABC News, only says he was named liaison to the Libyan opposition—with no mention of al-Qaeda or Abdelhakim Belhadj or his Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. (See how blogging is like a game of "telephone"?) The Telegraph on Nov. 27, 2011 (also cited by Business Insider) reported (without mentioning Stevens) that Belhadj had been sent by Libya's revolutionary authorities to Istanbul to meet with leaders of the Free Syrian Army (without mentioning that any arms deals actually came out of it). The Telegraph on Nov. 2 of this year (cited directly by Global Research) also informs us that the two armed men killed in the consulate attack, originally reported to be Navy SEALs, were actually former SEALs who were under contract to the CIA, not the State Department. The implication seems to be that they were there for covert action, not to protect the consulate.

Global Research's own contribution to the theory is the notion that Stevens was intentionally "murdered" on account of these shenanigans. But what doesn't make a lick of sense is why a Libyan jihadist militia would want to kill Stevens because he was conniving with Libyan jihadist militias to arm jihadist militias in Syria. As usual, the conspiranoids, for all their obsession with minutia (if not quite accuracy), can be blind to the most obvious yawning gaps in their theories.

Still, it's all food for thought. We ourselves noted at the time of Petraeus' transfer to the CIA last year that it seemed timed to oversee the Libyan insurrectionary project, and read it as a tilt back to the neocon "regime change" agenda.

So, was there more to the Benghazi affair than meets the eye? And was the Petraeus revelation instrumented by the Obama administration to shut him up?

Sound off, readers…


  1. Petraeus scandal enters surreal-o-sphere
    Well, the Petraeus fiasco is certainly turning into a nice consolation prize for the Republicans. It now emerges that the target of the harassing e-mails was one Jill Kelley, ubiquitously described as a “Tampa socialite,” who is a close friend of the Petraeus family—and her e-mails apparently indiciate she’s in a torrid affair with Gen. John Allen, the US commander in Afghanistan! (McClatchy Newspapers, Nov. 15) We love how sexual hanky-panky is supposed to be egregious turpitude, but massive civilian casualties—hey, no problem!

  2. Right meets left in Benghazi conspiracy theory

    Well, the right-wing Jewish Policy Center has endorsed the same conspiracy theory as the above-cited leftoids at Global Research, even asserting that the "consulate" wasn't really a consulate but a "CIA post." JPC is concerned that thanks to the Benghazi-based arms smuggling, Stinger missiles and the similar mobile surface-to-air missiles known as MANPADs (man-portable air defense systems) are falling into jihadist hands along Israel's borders. The Russians have complained that the Syrian rebels have Stingers (BBC News, Oct. 24), the rebels themselves boasted of bringing down one of Damascus' MiGs (CBS/AP, Aug. 13), and the IDF confirmed that a surface-to-air missile, said to be an SA-7, was fired at a helicopter from Gaza (Ha'aretz, Oct. 16). 

    JPC does better than Global Research by actually venturing an explanation as to why the arms op made Stevens a marked man:

    [W]hat if Turkish, Jordanian, Russian, or Israeli concerns about the appearance of MANPADS close to their borders made the administration decide that it had to exercise more control over weapons shipments to the Syrian rebels? What if the State Department told Ambassador Stevens to clamp down on the shipments or to stop them all together? If Stevens had told his militia allies that he was cutting back or cutting off the CIA-organized shipments to Syria, could they have been angry enough to kill him?

    OK, that's reasonably plausible. Global Research could never arrive at that, because in its view jihadism is only a pawn of imperialism. You know you're in trouble when the right-wing Zionists actually make more sense than the supposed "leftists."

  3. Neocons spooked by “regime change” blowback
    The Jewish Policy Center seems to reflect the neocons (finally!) getting a little gun-shy about this whole “regime change” thing. They run a piece by Shoshana Bryen from the right-wing American Thinker entitled, rather obviously, “The Enemy of My Enemy in Damascus.” Bryen closes:

    A strong case can be made that the elimination of Assad’s regime is important to set back Iranian/Shiite influence in the region.  But it is the height of naïveté to remove a radical Shiite outpost in the Levant assuming it can be replaced by a government with which the U.S. has influence.  It will almost assuredly be replaced by a radical Sunni outpost reflective of the strength of its most forceful member.

    Wow, time for some new talking points everyone, eh?

  4. Petraeus testimony ambiguous
    Petraeus gave his closed-door testimony to Congress Nov. 16, but failed to establish when the CIA determined the Benghazi attack was an act of “terrorism.” From CBS News:

    Petraeus told lawmakers today that he consistently told Congress that there were terrorist elements involved in the attack, which led to the death of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans. King, however, said he remembers Petraeus’ Sept. 14 testimony differently.

    “I told him… I had a very different recollection of that,” King said.

    Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., didn’t agree with King’s recollection of the Sept. 14 briefing.

    Ruppersberger told reporters after the hearing, “My recollection was … [Petraeus said] it was the result of the protest… but he also said in the group there were some extremists and some where al Qaeda affiliates.”

    Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., “Gen. Petraeus as director of the CIA has been completely consistent.”

    Excuse us? Isn’t there a written record of what Petraeus said on Sept. 14?

  5. Heads roll at State Department
    Low-level scapegoats sacrificed to save top guns. What a surprise. From the New York Times, Dec. 19:

    4 Are Out at State Dept. After Scathing Report on Benghazi Attack
    WASHINGTON — Four State Department officials were removed from their posts on Wednesday after an independent panel criticized the “grossly inadequate” security at a diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, that was attacked on Sept. 11, leading to the deaths of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

    Eric J. Boswell, the assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security, resigned. Charlene R. Lamb, the deputy assistant secretary responsible for embassy security, and another official in the diplomatic security office whom officials would not identify were relieved of their duties. So was Raymond Maxwell, a deputy assistant secretary who had responsibility for North Africa. The four officials, a State Department spokeswoman said, “have been placed on administrative leave pending further action.”

    The report criticized officials in the State Department’s Bureau for Diplomatic Security as having displayed a “lack of proactive leadership.” It also said that some officials in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs “showed a lack of ownership of Benghazi’s security issues.”

    The report did not criticize more senior officials, including Patrick F. Kennedy, the under secretary for management, who has vigorously defended the State Department’s decision-making on Benghazi to Congress.

    Again:  What a surprise.

  6. Benghazi attack(s): a “consulate” AND a “CIA post”?

    Has anyone noticed that the media are suddenly using the plural "attacks" for the Benghazi affair? See the WP's Fact Checker blog, May 12, which writes that "although the ambassador was killed, the Benghazi 'consulate' was not a consulate at all but essentially a secret CIA operation which included an effort to round up shoulder-launched missiles." Pretty messy writing for a blog called "Fact Checker." A "consulate" implies an actual building, while an "operation" implies some kind of activity that may be done at a building. So "consulate" and "operation" are not mutually exclusive, and if there was a CIA "operation" underway at that partiuclar building in Benghazi, that still tells us nothing about whether it was a "consulate" or a "CIA post" (as asserted in the reports cited above). The Fact Checker report uses the plural "attacks," but fails to explain why, treating the incident as a single attack. The Wikipedia page on the affair says there were actually two attacks, hours apart, with Amabassador Stevens and a Foreign Service colleague killed first at the "diplomatic mission" in Benghazi, and the CIA contractors killed next at a "CIA annex in a different compound about one mile away." The source is UPI, Nov. 2, 2012.