A CIA Report on a Trip to Africa, Again

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Holy hell I can’t believe I’m back in the business of writing about CIA reports on trips to Africa again, but here I am.

In this post, I noted that David Petraeus made a two-day trip to Cairo on October 31, just as the CIA launched its pushback campaign against Fox reporting, and just before Scott Shane wrote a maudlin story about Petraeus’ image.

October 25 [earliest reported date] – week of October 28: Petraeus interviewed by FBI.

October 26: Fox reports that CIA security in annex were twice told to stand down by “CIA chain of command.”

October 31: Acting after speaking to FBI “whistleblower,” Eric Cantor’s Chief of Staff calls Robert Mueller about investigation.

October 31- November 1: Petraeus in Cairo for security discussions.

November 2 [based on a briefing held November 1 while Petraeus was still in Cairo]: CIA releases timeline rebutting Fox report–mentioned by Broadwell–that CIA chain of command told security to stand down.

November 2: FBI interviews Broadwell a second time.

November 2: Scott Shane writes odd article on demise of Petraeus’ image, blaming his absence from media for Benghazi blowback, in part repeating a point made by Broadwell on October 26.

That appears to be the trip–and the report currently being withheld from the Intelligence Committees on the grounds it is not yet complete–referred to by Dianne Feinstein in this interview with Andrea Mitchell. (Daily Caller reported on this first.)

DiFi: I believe that Director Petraeus made a trip to the region shortly before this became public.

Mitchell: To Libya?

DiFi: Yes. I believe that there is a trip report. We have asked to see the trip report. One person tells me he has read it, and then we try to get it and they tell me it hasn’t been done. That’s unacceptable. We are entitled to this trip report and if we have to go to the floor of the Senate on a subpoena, we will do just that.

Mitchell: You’re suggesting that you might have to subpoena from the intelligence community a trip report that David Petraeus made after going to Libya within the last two weeks.

DiFi: Yes, for the very reason that it may have some very relevant information to what happened in Benghazi.

So right between the time the FBI interviewed Petraeus and the time Scott Shane was writing a valediction to Petraeus’ career, Petraeus went “to the region”–possibly to Libya itself. And CIA doesn’t want to tell Dianne Feinstein what Petraeus learned or did there.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

34 replies
  1. rugger9 says:

    This is getting curiouser and curiouser…
    Presumably Betrayus went for a specific reason, not just touring Giza. Since we’ll assume he was on a mission [and he apparently was working on Syria as well] one would expect he told something to someone when he returned. President Obama may yet be dragged into this, since at the very least I would expect a trip like this to be a topic on the exit interview of 11/8-9 time frame.

    Now, in Betrayus’ defense here, did any meeting get scheduled with the Gang of Eight? One assumes Boehner must be crawling out from under the ivy by now….

  2. rugger9 says:

    OT, sort of…

    Israel hit Syria with airstrikes today. Bibi is pushing really hard for something it seems, even allowing for Bashir Assad’s stupidity.

  3. DonS says:

    You know ‘ol Bibi likes to distract, inflict most damage under the cover of, well, anything. And considering his connection to worm Cantor, and possibly even direct involvement, well, why not?

  4. JThomason says:

    There is enough intrique in the story of arms movements in the post-Spring world to command attention without all the petty interest around power and sex. It seems to me the Petraeus story is what it is: An Army pensioner who could not stand against the threat and perhaps the appropriateness of prosecution under the UCMJ given the requirement of integrity in his current position. Given the indefensible aspect of his postion in light of military moral regulation, the mere apperence of security breaches emergent in the wake of his invovlement with Broadwell surely is enough to suggest an understanding that he had to go.

  5. orionatl says:


    as fun as sex is to participate in,

    and as fun as it is to gossip about it, (aided by the fact that human relations are something we all actually know something about),

    i am nonetheless of your opinion:

    “There is enough intrique in the story of arms movements in the post-Spring world to command attention without all the petty interest around power and sex…”

    i sh

  6. marksb says:

    Thanks for the clip. DiFi pivots and deflects: Dem Intel chair stonewalled on Benghazi CIA report involving the Republican’s shining golden warrior (now in disgrace).

  7. jerryy says:

    The tabloid headlines reporting style going on about this story is certainly fixating on the lurid details, but the emering timelines are actually bringing more questions up than they are answering.

    A few posts back, I asked why the headof the spook group would think it was safe to use private unenc=rypted email accounts to talk about an affair and try to lure the woman back, especially with the NSA monitoring email communications. It is trivial to trace ip addresses, most people using a computer to get on the ‘net already have the tools to do so on their computer. Here is a wiki entry that tells you just how to do it:


    These methods will usually get you to within a few zip code numbers from the physicial location of the computer. Beyond that you need a court order to get better location info from the ISP. (side note 1: this is why 911 calls are tricky when you use your computer to make them, the IP inof is not that accurate> side note 2: The NSA, being good friends with Google –Gmail provider– would have almost immediately known what was up.)

    Remember, bmaz telling us that the FBI does not respond to email threats even when severe. The tabloid headline stories do not have the threats in the emails being worse than school-kid taunts.

    The tabloid headline story tellers are saying that the crack FBI cyber-team discovered the connection by overlaying the mistress’ hotel stay info to the IP address info contained in the email address header info. This does not work unless the FBI alreadsy knew who they were looking for and had advanced info from the ISP — without the necesaary court order, which they (the FBI) then turned around to use to get the court order allowing them to moniter P&B.

  8. orionatl says:


    oh god!

    like job, i ask, will this never end.

    do we have to violate their privacy?

    was there a court order limiting what could be hauled away?

    or even viewed, except very briefly?

    has the fbi stolen all their computers and files and drives as they so often do?

    will the doj prosecutors use some irrelevant content of those files to blackmail ms. broadwell?

    of course, tommorrow, we will be assured all this constitutionally unauthorized activity was necessary to protect us from disclosure of state’s secrets.

    the end result, however, will just be leaking salacious details.

    unless it happens there was an american election’s political angle;

    that might be velly interrresting.

  9. ryanwc says:

    Perhaps I’m barking up the wrong tree here, so pardon the somewhat off-topic post, but Jill Kelley continues to be more interesting to me than to others here, and I want to keep making the case. Here’s the Tribune’s latest:

    >Jill Kelley regularly kept in touch with then-Gen. Petraeus when he became commander of the Afghan war effort, the two exchanging near-daily emails and instant messages, two of his former staffers say. But those messages were exchanged in accounts that his aides monitored as part of their duties and were not romantic in tone, the staffers said.

    What does the general email a “socialite, hostess for Tampa military events” about on a daily basis?

    Again, she’s of Maronite heritage, the family having moved from Lebanon roughly when she was born, so she’s a likely native Arabic speaker. Her identical twin has a masters in public health and a law degree from Georgetown, suggesting she is likely to be a pretty intelligent individual with aspirations. She moved to Tampa sometime between 9/11 and the launch of the Iraq war. She emails the general daily while he’s on another continent, on his government account. And he replies. They have no romantic interest in one another.

    But she’s just a socialite? It doesn’t add up.

  10. Snoopdido says:

    @PollyUSA: The CIA in that WSJ article officially states: A CIA spokesman said there were no militant prisoners there, noting that President Barack Obama ended CIA authority to hold detainees in 2009. “Any suggestion that the agency is still in the detention business is uninformed and baseless,” said the spokesperson.

    That may be literally true, but a response perhaps designed to avoid the real truth. It may be that militant prisoners are instead being detained by the US military. JSOC?

    If one were to staff Libya for tracking shoulder-fired Surface to Air missiles and other missing military equipment, would you assign the task to the CIA or to US military personnel most familiar with such equipment?

  11. GulfCoastPirate says:


    ‘The tabloid headline story tellers are saying that the crack FBI cyber-team discovered the connection by overlaying the mistress’ hotel stay info to the IP address info contained in the email address header info. This does not work unless the FBI alreadsy knew who they were looking for and had advanced info from the ISP — without the necesaary court order, which they (the FBI) then turned around to use to get the court order allowing them to moniter P&B.’

    How do you know this? Was it from a story somewhere?

  12. ryan says:

    @jerryy: They didn’t use private unencrypted accounts. They used a private unencrypted account, in which they saved to draft their messages to each other. These wouldn’t have been picked up by normal NSA monitoring.

  13. marksb says:

    @jerryy: Grinding my old ax: Lawful Intercept–the FBI tells the ISP they need this traffic, the ISP salutes and says close the door when you’re finished.
    Actually, who needs to ask anymore? If anyone thinks some building in VA doesn’t have optical splitter feeds from most of the com pipes in our fair country, well…sorry, innocence is over.

  14. jerryy says:

    @ryan: Possiblly, but then again Google and the NSA are very tight, so tight that the judiciary has determined they do not have to tell us how close they work together.

  15. Sparkles the Iguana says:

    Did anyone else read that Broadwell sent the harassing emails from an account she shared with her husband? I read that somewhere. WTF?

  16. PollyUSA says:

    So Patraeus knew about the harassing emails and told Broadwell to knock it off last summer.

    The new information shows that Petraeus told Broadwell this summer to stop sending the harassing e-mails after Kelley told him about them.


    At some point this summer, Kelley told Petraeus about the e-mails and named Broadwell as the person who had sent them. Apparently in response, the CIA director sent e-mails to Broadwell telling her to stop the harassment, two law enforcement officials said.


  17. Teddy says:

    SO: what if Broadwell’s ‘back off!’ emails weren’t because she saw Jill Kelley as a romantic rival but because she had discovered Kelley’s socialite pose was cover for a foreign power’s spying? What if Broadwell’s papers, currently being retrieved from her home, contain possible proof of Jill Kelley’s role? What if Petraeus has been compromised by one — or both? — of these women, acting on behalf of a hostile, or friendly, power, entirely throughout his prosecution of war in the Iraq and Afghan theatres?

  18. Sparkles the Iguana says:

    Another mystery – why would such a smart overachiever/West Point and Harvard grad, PhD student – need a ghostwriter to write a biography? Especially given that the biography was supposedly a rewrite of her dissertation?

  19. Sparkles the Iguana says:

    What remains unclear is why, after it was decided that criminal charges would not be filed, Clapper was informed about the investigation. Another question is why the notification was made on Election Day about a case the Justice Department had declined to pursue weeks earlier.


    Cantor contacted FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III on Oct. 31, and a week later Clapper told Petraeus he needed to resign.

    “I don’t know if it would have taken this course without Cantor,” a person close to the investigation said.


  20. ryanwc says:

    I’ll leave this out of the most recent thread, since everyone seems to think it’s a sidebar. But to advance my theory that there’s more to Jill Kelley than socialite, here’s more substantiation that the dispute between her and Broadwell may not have been about romance, from MIchael Daly at the Daily Beast:

    >The messages were instead what the source terms “kind of cat-fight stuff.”

    >“More like, ‘Who do you think you are? … You parade around the base … You need to take it down a notch,’” according to the source, who was until recently at the highest levels of the intelligence community and prefers not to be identified by name.

    >The base described is MacDill Air Force Base in Florida, where Kelley serves as an unpaid “social liaison.” The source reports that the emails did make one reference to Gen. David Petraeus, but it was oblique and offered no manifest suggestion of a personal relationship or even that he was central to the sender’s spite.

  21. ryanwc says:

    @orionATL: Christ. Now Kelley is recipient of 30,000 pages of “inappropriate” emails from Gen. Allen, commander of ISAF.

    You couldn’t send 30,000 pages of romantic messages. Not possible. Even if they call each message a page, that’s 100/day, for someone who is running a war. The inappropriate material has to be classified.

    Still think Kelley’s a socialite?

  22. Chris says:


    I read that they were both using a gmail account under pseudonyms, he was drafting an email but not sending it, and she was logging in and reading the draft. This is a known way of communicating without sending revealing emails.

  23. jerryy says:

    @Chris: This reply may be a day late on a fast moving story, but that method of security-by-obscurity is only vaguely-sort-of workable if they were using the same computer (in other words, even then any decent admin wil find out without needing to look hard, via routine log file maintenance access). The problem with trying to use this via personal accounts, as described, is the same as using internet access or cloud computing in general — your session is transmitted via the internet in the open. They might as well have been talking on CB radios to each other for all of the privacy they would get. Someone sitting on the backbone watching traffic fly by will see it. The NSA sits on the backbones.

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