Why Was Petraeus Fact-Finding While CIA Was Spinning “Facts”?

The WSJ has a story that captures a lot of what I’ve been pointing to in Petraeus Surge-Out. It explains how the investigation played out even as career CIA people objecting to Petraeus’ regimented management style. It describes Petraeus’ intent to stay on nevertheless. And it shows–as I have–how Petraeus was dealing with the investigation even as CIA was attempting to push back on claims it had botched the Benghazi response.

It describes how this all played out in the weeks before Petraeus resigned:

At CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., officials began debating whether the CIA should be more active in countering the criticism. Mr. Petraeus, in particular, advocated a more aggressive defense.

As questions mounted, a Fox News report Oct. 26 alleged that the CIA delayed sending a security force to protect U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and others who were under attack. Mr. Stevens and three other Americans died.

The CIA denied the report, then began pulling together its own timeline of events.

The Pentagon, the State Department and other agencies objected to Mr. Petraeus’s decision to mount a solo defense. “We conveyed our objections. Multiple agencies did,” a senior military official said.

Mr. Petraeus’s decision to release the CIA’s timeline to the press didn’t sit well with Mr. Clapper, who was unaware it would be made public, officials said. Other agencies saw Mr. Petraeus’s decision as a step aimed at presenting the CIA and Mr. Petraeus in the best light and forcing them to accept the brunt of the criticism.

At CIA headquarters, officials believed it was important to make their case. “Clearly, when people are insinuating things about a situation that just aren’t true, there has to be a response,” a senior U.S. official said. The official added that the briefing was considered effective. “The record was corrected,” he said.”Smart people can disagree on the best way to do this, while at the same time agreeing that something must be done.”

Meanwhile, one week after the turf fight over the CIA’s release of its Benghazi timeline, the FBI told Mr. Clapper about Mr. Petraeus’s extramarital affair, said officials familiar with the timeline. [my emphasis]

But this account misses some crucial details of the timeline, which are all important as the Benghazi hearings play out this week.

First, remember that Paula Broadwell made one of the first responses to the Fox story, though she seemingly confirmed their report that (among other things) the CIA delayed its response because it had prisoners.

Consider Petraeus’ actions two weeks ago. The FBI interviewed him in a scandal he believed he could survive. And then–seemingly almost immediately–he hopped on a plane for a “fact-finding” trip in anticipation of this week’s testimony. That conveniently put him out of the country as CIA conducted the spin campaign that–as WSJ reports–top officials and DOD, DNI, and State objected to.

But here’s the most important bit: The CIA put out information at a time and in a manner the rest of the national security establishment objected to. It claimed–and WSJ’s sources still claim–that “the record was corrected,” implying that the CIA offered the truth in its spin on November 1.

If so, then why was Petraeus on a fact-finding trip at all? If they knew enough to know what the record showed, then why did Petraeus have to fly to Libya to find out what the record showed?

The answer may be as simple as Petraeus was just getting out of town to avoid any responsibility for a spin campaign that other NatSec officials objected to.  It may be he went on a junket (ha!) to reflect on whether his diddling might sully his pristine image.

But I doubt that. Given the importance the Intelligence Committees have placed on the report from Petraeus’ trip, and the reluctance CIA has shown in turning over that report, and Petraeus’ initial reluctance to testify to Congress about what he learned on his fact-finding trip,  it seems highly likely that “the record” as reflected in that trip report does not match “the record” the CIA is so satisfied that it fed to reporters (to the WSJ team’s credit, they were by far the least credulous about the CIA’s so-called record).

One of two possibilities must be correct: The CIA deliberately put out a timeline it knew to be incomplete–if not deceptive–at a time and in a way that the rest of the NatSec establishment objected to (which might explain why it is so reluctant to give the now-revised timeline to Congress, because it will be caught in deception). Or, Petraeus’ trip to Libya and other countries had nothing to do with what he claimed it did, fact-finding on Benghazi in anticipation of this week’s hearings.

The reporters who attended the November 1 briefing appear to have been suckered into reporting on CIA’s claimed timeline even while Petraeus was actively trying to learn what that timeline really was. They really ought to ask CIA why that timeline was presented as settled fact, then.

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.

85 replies
  1. Brindle says:

    I was doing some googling on C4ISR and this item came up:

    —“Paula Broadwell was not just David Petraeus’ biographer and reputed girlfriend. On some occasions, she also operated as the recently resigned CIA director’s unofficial intermediary, passing messages in a way that avoided formal channels, according to a former Pentagon official.

    The former official said he communicated with the general about CIA issues through Broadwell, who emailed that she was passing along questions from Petreaus.—”


  2. joanneleon says:

    Why did the rest of the national security establishment object to Petraeus releasing that timeline? “Mr. Petraeus’s decision as a step aimed at presenting the CIA and Mr. Petraeus in the best light and forcing them to accept the brunt of the criticism.” Was it because it was not true, or was it for political reasons about who had to accept the brunt of the criticism? Is it possible that the blame, when you look at the situation objectively, doesn’t really fall on any one organization?

    Did it have anything to do with the fact that it was 1-2 weeks before an election? For instance, Clinton’s husband was out there on the campaign trail tirelessly campaigning for Obama. Her mind had to be on the political issues though the Sec. of State is supposed to remain neutral in political matters. But given the timing and the daily, intense attacks from the right-wing on this matter, every detail released, the way it was worded, the timing of the release of any information, all of these things had to be something of intense importance to the campaign and to anyone who was invested in this president being reelected.

    I’m not willing to leave that aspect out of all of this. Who wants to defend Petraeus? Nobody around here, that I know of. But the idea that the rest of the national security establishment was just interested in the truth — that is just not likely to be the reality of the situation. One of their top priorities, I suspect, was the political ramifications of it all.

    I agree with your speculations about Petraeus’ reasons for jetting off to a supposed fact finding mission in Libya, etc. while at the same time releasing his own timeline. It doesn’t make any sense. So why did he do it? Was it all about ego? About telling the truth? Did he have a political agenda too? Is it possible that he was cooperating with the October Surprisers and working at cross purposes to the administration? Boy, that would be a big deal. Or is it possible that he had some people to get in line in Libya, something that had to be done in purpose, before the Congressional committees started doing some deeper investigations?

    There are so many factors that could be part of it. I mean, isn’t it also possible that Petraeus himself was being set up to take the fall for all of this and he was using all the power he had to make sure that didn’t happen and his career wasn’t ruined? I think that at least has to be considered, despite what I tend to think of him (not highly). But it makes no sense for the right-wing to try to take down Petraeus. They have no interest in taking him down.

    If the blame really deserved to be spread among more than one organization (and given the way the lines are blurred between the different sectors now, I think that is highly likely) but for political reasons they wanted it to all be pointed to an intelligence failure, the most vague and least damning direction to point it all in on the eve of a very close election with a *lot* on the line, and one member of the national security establishment wasn’t willing to toe the line and take all the blame… I don’t know. I just don’t buy the fact that it was only Petraeus trying to cover his ass. However, if he had gone along with all of it, I suspect that he would not be in the position he is in today.

  3. SebastianDangerfield says:

    @Brindle: Wow. I suppose we should not be surprised but wow nonetheless.

    One of the many questions this raises: Was Broadwell just freelancing when she made her comments on Benghazi in Denver? That’s been my take until recently — that she’s just so taken with all her access and super secret knowledge that when a question on Benghazi came up she couldn’t help herself, she just blurted out confirmation of the Fox News report (recall that she only attributed stuff to Fox at first, then she started talking about things not included in the Fox report, like signal intelligence that the militia was watching the Cairo events, that the CIA station reported the full(er) version of the events to Petraeus within 24 hours, that Petraeus knows all this (“this” being the substance reported on Fox on Oct. 26 and subsequently scrubbed), and that the prisoners’ being a motive for the attack is “still being vetted.” I’m now having trouble believing that this is just sloppiness from a starstruck ambition monster who has lost any sense that she has an identity separate from the Great Man’s and begin to wonder if those comments were another facet of her serving as Petraeus’s sanctioned spokesmodel.

  4. Slothrop says:

    I think we’ve got to stop calling Broadwell’s book “a biography.” It’s the print version of an intelligence operation sometimes referred to as “propaganda” or “psychological operations.” Not a bio.

  5. Saltinwound says:

    When Broadwell acted as a go-between, emailing that she was passing along questions from Petraeus, was that just a gmail account too? Is there any national security information google does not have access to at this point? There are many ways this could help them keep their monopoly power.

  6. SpanishInquisition says:

    Is there any reason why Broadwell would be viewing any classified info whatsoever if it wasn’t for her connection to Petraeus? Now that Obama has personnal denied there’s any evidence this was a national security threat, I’d like to know why else other than this that Broadwell would a treasure trove of classified documents. Doesn’t the FBI carting away computers and papers that have many classified documents completely discredit what Obama said in his press conference?

  7. eCAHNomics says:


    From my link:

    ” General Ham had been in command of the initial 2011 US-NATO military intervention in Libya who, like Admiral Gaouette, was fired by Obama. And as we can, in part, read from US military insider accounts of this growing internal conflict between the White House and US Military leaders:

    “The information I heard today was that General [Carter] Ham as head of Africom received the same e-mails the White House received requesting help/support as the attack was taking place. General Ham immediately had a rapid response unit ready and communicated to the Pentagon that he had a unit ready.

    General Ham then received the order to stand down. His response was to screw it, he was going to help anyhow. Within 30 seconds to a minute after making the move to respond, his second in command apprehended General Ham and told him that he was now relieved of his command.” ”

    So that’s two high ranking generals fired over Benghazi.

  8. emptywheel says:

    @joanneleon: Not sure I buy that.

    After all, State had already almost certainly gave incomplete info at Issa’s hearing bc CIA had insisted that their role and actions remain secret (and clearly Jason Chaffetz was aware of that agreement). So if I’m State, then I want to make sure that I’m not doubly screwed bc CIA first demanded and then unilaterally changed its mind that its side of this would remain secret. Plus, Hillary had already taken responsibility here.

    Furthermore, if CIA did provide additional inaccurate information in this timeline, then it just exposes the rest of the Admin even further. They were trying hard to tell as much as they could, but had already gotten screwed by CIA (for example, with the video story, which came from CIA). And now CIA wanted to run its own crisis response, after having already fucked over the rest of the NatSec establishment?

    You’re right that the GOP wasn’t going to bring down Petraeus. Indeed, the times when CIA had gotten blame (notably on those early briefings) the GOP complained that was wrong for CIA to take the fall. But it really seems like, aside from State’s decision to go light on security, almost all if not all the blame lies w/CIA.

  9. Saltinwound says:

    Perhaps the CIA could not help because they were guarding prisoners. This does not apply to General Ham. Why was he not allowed to help?

  10. mcville says:

    It might be useful to know why exactly the US had such a large covert presence in Benghazi.

    Another question is why the Ambassador had a meeting scheduled with the Turkish consul on 9/11, that caused him to travel to a location known to be dangerous, on that particular day. What did the two discuss, I wonder? Hard to believe it didn’t involve Syria.

  11. emptywheel says:

    @SebastianDangerfield: Or part of the attack on Petraeus.SHe seems to endorse what Fox says, after all.

    And the response to her now, now that DOD and CIA have a say in the “investigation,” seems very punitive. Not unfairly so. But clearances have a way of working arbitrarily. And for the moment, she’s the only one who has had to pay with her clearance and therefore her livelihood.

  12. emptywheel says:

    @mcville: Turkey is an interesting note. And note that some versions say the attack started earlier, literally jsut as Stevens was escorting the diplomat off hte compound.

  13. Saltinwound says:

    @emptywheel Hillary sort of took responsibility. She did nott do it in a way where it stuck. She is barely part of the story at this point..

  14. 1970cs says:


    These two firings of Ham and Gauoette have been related to this whole thing since it started in my mind.

    This was linked here the Fri night Paetreus resigned, and isn’t likely coincidence
    “Christopher Kubasik, who was to become Lockheed Martin Corp.’s CEO in January, has resigned, effective immediately, after an investigation found he had a personal relationship with a subordinate, the company announced Friday after the markets closed.
    Lockheed Martin employs about 7,000 workers in Central Florida.”

  15. DonS says:

    Re Obama: I don’t think we heard anything from him yesterday of substance. Mostly deflecting to questions about internal FBI procedure, whether it was followed, and that he withholds judgment. He deferred (set up?) questions about the FBI probe/protocol to the FBI. Not very sporting. He assured us that he’d seen no evidence of national security breach. Leave plenty of room for new evidence to revise his non-statement. He assured us that, as soon as he got information of Bengazi he ordered State, DOD and CIA to do what ever necessary to protect those in danger. Another non-statement with plenty of room to revise subject to new information. Obama did, however, go on to definitely assure us that Dave Betraeus was a standup guy and we are much safer because of his service (except of course for all those dead Iraqis and Afghanis who benefited from his superb strategic mind.)

  16. eCAHNomics says:

    @DonS: Thanks. I was being sarcastic. The press corps, having graduated from kindergarten (though sometimes it doesn’t seem that way) know what Qs are not supposed to be asked.

  17. DonS says:

    @eCAHNomics: I thought so ;-)

    I guess Obama is trying to stay as far away from this tar baby for as long as he can. That probably doesn’t mean we won’t hear him uttering a few “the buck stops here” moments. He did, after all, challenge McCain and Huckleberry Graham to go mano-a-mano because they said mean things about Susan Rice.

  18. Frank33 says:

    Senile John McCain, and Lindsey Graham, are two of the main leaderz of the Endless Wars and Team Benghazi. They have publicly targeted Susan Rice and promised to do terrible things to her. President Obama uncharacteristically defended Rice. He said Rice was not part of the events at Benghazi “Terror” attack. She reported what P4 told her to say.

    So my question is, Team Benghazi vs. Team Obama, Kabuki or another neo-con attempt to overthrow another Democracy?

  19. eCAHNomics says:

    @DonS: I just did a search of the transcript and there’s no mention of the 2 admirals that Obama fired over Benghazi. He won’t be able to keep this under wraps for long.

  20. FrankProbst says:

    Again, I feel obligated to point out that John Q Public does not care about Benghazi. However, John Q Public LOVES a good sex scandal, especially if there are a bunch of e-mails to read. The shirtless FBI agent is really the icing on the cake.

  21. marksb says:

    @eCAHNomics: Sorry. What I posted was very confrontational; not my intent. I’ve always like that most of us respect each other, even when we veer off the hook on something. Suffice to say that the linked site is very CT and a little ’round the bend. Thanks.

  22. Milton Arbogast says:

    Can somebody please mention Obama’s name a few times in this?

    Obama’s intentions may… or may not… be good, but his techniques are flawed, horribly flawed.

    Petraeus, boy-toy phoney baloney Petraeus, had managed to wiggle his way into the hearts of Beltway’s Brightest, and Obama was all for it. Another prop from the Right to give me some room to sell out my constituents.

    The one thing that is true is that Obama does not want anything “true” being said or written about anything to do with his war efforts. Ever.

  23. eCAHNomics says:

    @FrankProbst: That the public doesn’t care about Benghazi is what draws my interest in why so much is being done to cover up what actually happened. An ‘ambassador’ murdered, two fired admirals, resignation of head of CIA to name but 4 extraordinary events. I wonder when someone will be ‘suicided’ or otherwise disposed of.

  24. Frank33 says:

    Jill Kelley, energy expert, said Petraeus, could help with a billion dollar clean coal deal. But Natalie should also be an energy expert since her ex, Grayson Wolfe is an Irak energy expert and spy. Natalie went with him on trips to ##### and #####.

    He told the Tampa Tribune that he flew Kelley to New York to learn more about his company’s clean coal technology and believed her close ties to Petraeus could help win energy contacts in South Korea.

    Victor said he was shocked when Kelley, who owes millions to the bank and in credit card debt, asked for two per cent of any deal that was signed.

    The energy chief said he was so taken back by the demand that he began to question her experience in putting together deals. He also cut all ties with her.

    General Mrs. Allen complained about Jill. To security perhaps?

    Kathy Allen complained to the wife of a civil liaison officer at Central Command in Tampa about the number of emails her husband was receiving from socialite Jill Kelley.

    Jill was reprimanded three times on the telephone. Stop it Jill, Just Stop It. These guys are protecting the world.

    But Jill did have a Party with an Admiral, last Sunday. So maybe she did not stop.

    Mark Rosenthal, a civil liaison officer for the MacDill Air Force base in Tampa where Central Command is based, said he was appalled by the flirty behavior of Kelley at lavish parties she hosted in her $1.3million home.

    ‘I called her probably three times and told her not to send any more emails,’ he told the Tampa Tribune.

    ‘I thought it was ridiculous. Who the hell is she. These guys are protecting the world.’

    Who the hell is she? She is the Social Laison.

  25. marksb says:

    @eCAHNomics: I am interested in the wholesale removal of commanding flag officers. It’s clear that most of them are deeply flawed individuals making stupid decisions, and their day of reckoning was a long time coming.

    On the other hand the frothing CT-based Wingers have taken this set of firings as a confirmation of Obama’s “predicted” revolution-from-within to some sort of socialist/communist dictatorship hell.

    I see these people as finally getting their just deserts, and Obama as awakening to reality-based management, where you look at the way things are rather than what the experts in DC say they are. I’ve been aghast at the very basic security violations these flag officers have demonstrated. Never mind the execs–I know IT dweebs in corporations all over the world with more fundamental integrity then our high command.

  26. FrankProbst says:

    @eCAHNomics Sort of off-topic, but I expect Karl Rove to simply vanish some time before the end of the year. Several pissed-off billionaires plus $300+ million dollars down the toilet is not a recipe for long-term survival. I expect a “We think he’s in Costa Rica” story by Christmas.

  27. eCAHNomics says:

    @marksb: I was double tasking when I posted the first link, listening to an interview on another window wherein the subject came up, I did a search and when that interview was done I posted the first link I found.

    A bit later, when my brain clicked in, it occurred to me that I was unfamiliar with the website & I ought to check it out. That’s when I found the abc link & figured the info was close enough to accurate for current purposes. Fired, temporarily shelved, who knows the exact status.

    I don’t know anything about the navy or officers or whether they’re competent or not. My curiosity does perk up when so many consequential events happen all at once.

    Maybe it’s just coinky dink.

    I have done quite a bit of reading on the CIA & have opinions.

    I’ve run into the coup-of-many-colors stories. I’m leaving that alone for now.

  28. DonS says:

    Someone else doesn’t think too much of the man called Betraeus. Via Moon of Alabama:

    “This is not a man who should be drummed out of office for having an affair. He should have been drummed out of office for not living up to his own legend. David Petraeus is a paper tiger: his personality cult looks impressive until you get close enough, and then the whole façade crumbles away.”


    I daresay, though, that we are struck with the conventional wisdom, and no amount of truth telling, as if that were in the offing anyway, will rid us of this meddlesome icon. If the Betraeus worship were to fall just think how many tentacles would be caught up in the web. Certainly Obama’s not going to cast the first stone which means, of course, that the rest of us are just useless losers. On News Hour last night Richard Kohn of the University of North Carolina and retired Col. Andrew Bacevich, especially Bacevich, sort of got to the danger of military worship in general (not pun).


  29. eCAHNomics says:

    @FrankProbst: I’ll wait & see what happens to Rove & 0-for-4 Sheldon Adelson for that matter. Ne’er do wells (hint: neocons) have a nasty habit of popping up just when you think they’re down for the count.

    I’m also waiting to see what’s gets pulled out next from the Kochs’, Mellon-Scaife’s, Coor’s kit bag of tricks.

    WRT Rove more specifically, I have thought his approach is shallow and flies in the face of demographics (every time I type demographics I mean the will of the people, but the demographics put metrics on it), but Rove kept winning elections for his clients.

  30. eCAHNomics says:

    @DonS: You provoke me. This year I avoided my usual Veterans Day comment: When was the last time the U.S. military did anything that benefited the people.

  31. joanneleon says:

    @emptywheel: Good points, all.

    The story about the video definitely came from CIA? I was not aware of that. That does change things if it was entirely their idea to use that story as cover, or at least to allow it to obfuscate the real reasons for the attack.

    What you are saying re: CIA handling of this, first demanding that of State that certain parts remain secret, then deciding to reveal it in their own words, etc., and that being the reason why the other depts were so pissed at them — that makes a lot of sense too.

    But are we assuming that State and the admin. really did want to tell the truth about the reasons for the attack? Because a lot of people had reasons to cover it up.

    For instance, if the story about militia members imprisoned at the annex is true, it’s highly likely that was the reason or a reason for the attack. It might also explain why militias who were friendly to us turned. It makes a lot more sense as a motivation for the attack than anything else we’ve heard. And if it is the real reason, there are a lot of people who had good reason to cover that up. Petraeus is one but the hyper, paranoid and panicking campaign team is another. The idea of secret prisons still existing would have been something they did not want to come out a couple month or a couple weeks before the election.

    Anyway, I still have reservations. Most of those are centered around the “who benefits the most from this?” question. Maybe that question should be modified to “who had the most to lose?” and that makes it a lot more complicated.

  32. joanneleon says:

    @DonS: I just really think that one is a bridge too far (the claim that the WH knew nothing about this until last week or whenever they supposedly told him).

    Is it true that DoJ knew about this several months ago?

  33. Brian Silver says:

    I’m trying to put this into an acronym akin to GIGO in computing or LIFO in accounting. All I can come up with is DIDO — Dick In David Out. I should be able to do better. But maybe it works as Dick In Dick Out (as in resigned, fired, canned).

    The General/Director clearly lost command and control of Benghazi, the Benghazi story, and Broadwell — if indeed he was putting her into a liaison role with the Pentagon and elsewhere. And he was certainly guilty of hubris if he thought he could be above it all.

  34. joanneleon says:

    Boy, I hope you guys are right about Rove, that this was kind of his last chance and they will soon ditch him (not literally) and his legendary brilliance (cough). In fact, I hope this thing was some kind of effort to weed the last of the neocons out of places of power where they can continue to wreck this country. It’s just that I hate all the lies. Give it to us straight, or something remotely close to straight. I hate the machinations and the suffocating propaganda.

    And whenever they take somebody down, it’s always about the sex. Their sexcapades don’t have much effect on other peoples’ lives. How about talking about the long string of failures that cost or ruined so very many lives all over the globe?

    I also get the sense with this whole scandal that they don’t want people who have been following things closely for year to connect the dots. They want us to sit back and let the idiotic propaganda mill media to connect the dots for us.

  35. greengiant says:

    @eCAHNomics: The Admiral Gaouette part at the very least is a dust cloud. On 9/11 Admiral Gaouette was in the mid Pacific with the Stennis. And just how was he going to help anyone in Libya from there?
    The Hamm story was blown up by Glenn Beck etc and has to be placed in context of it’s media agenda.
    If they impeach Obama in the next two months he will just be sworn in again?

  36. marksb says:

    @Brian Silver: I’ve been thinking since the beginning of this train wreck that if General P really thought he could get away with bonking Captain Broadwell, while showing her the inside scope and details of his command, while she supposedly wrote his biography, and then carry it back to stateside, all without people noticing, then he was far beyond the judgment capable of command. The lack of common sense, discipline, and reality-based evaluation is striking and would not be acceptable for a junior officer with a first command.

  37. greengiant says:

    @emptywheel: “some versions say the attack started earlier, literally just as Stevens was escorting the diplomat off the compound.” Sean Smith’s buddies had his “#### I hear gunfire” time stamped. All manner of versions were trying to impeach and not elect Obama.

  38. marksb says:

    Every retirement and firing right now is feeding the Winger trolls and their CT. It’s all they’ve got–they’re livid that “their” country has been stolen, that Obama bought a majority of votes with “gifts” to all those women and people of color, and by god this is the vehicle they’ll ride to impeachment. Ha. Gonna take a lot more than CT, and I expect that the shitstorm of misbehavior and security breaches by senior command we are witnessing will take the wind out of those sails.

  39. SpanishInquisition says:

    @emptywheel: “But it really seems like, aside from State’s decision to go light on security, almost all if not all the blame lies w/CIA.”

    Are you saying that for the attack itself, after the attack or both? If you mean the attack itself, I’d be inclined to believe that, but as far as the response, I think that’s on everyone. The excuses from the Obama administration that there simply weren’t any resources available simply is not credible, particularly with Libya in the Mediteranian.

  40. SebastianDangerfield says:

    @emptywheel: My, my, you do have a dirty mind. I guess I’ve been cognitively biased against even considering that Broadwell could be part of a Petraeus takedown by reason of her adulation for TMCP. But of course even that appears to be primarily if not exclusively in service of her ambition.

  41. SpanishInquisition says:

    @joanneleon: Secret prisons are something the Obama administration wouldn’t want to come out at any time. We know that Obama is a liar, but something like that even low information folks would see what a huge hypocritical liar Obama is.

  42. ryan says:

    @SpanishInquisition: SpanInq, look to the Wall Street Journal piece EW excerpted in her “Petraeus … Avoid Testifying” thread, which makes a plausible claim that CIA let State down, or at the very least allowed a misunderstanding about security at the mission. There was an additional team at the “annex” that didn’t come to the defense of the mission as Clinton and State may have expected.

  43. SpanishInquisition says:

    @ryan: But even that goes against the official explanation on multiple levels, which Panetta has said there was a lack of intel. There was a response from the CIA Annex – whether it was official or unauthorized – and that resulted in the Annex itself coming under attack. There was a pair of Specter gunships right in Libya amongst many other things, which the CIA responding blew their cover when there was no need to blow cover with the other openly known assets available.

  44. Sponson says:

    For those who keep showing interest in this particular angle, does anyone actually believe that Fox News literally “scrubbed” the web version of their October 26th report? I am well aware of the claim they made this week that virtually anything Broadwell said in Denver came from their October 26th reporting, but I simply don’t buy it unless someone can show me before-and-after versions of the October 26th Fox report. My contention is that the claims made this week (that Broadwell was simply repeating “facts” from their reporting earlier that day in her October 26th appearance) are false. I have no particular opinion at all or not whether it is actually true that the CIA was dealing with (presumably illicit) prisoners; but I do contend that her making these claims was more than enough grounds for the national security apparatus to blow both her and her boyfriend permanently out of the water. Which has just happened.

  45. GulfCoastPirate says:

    Frak – a general out here, an admiral out there. A general out in front of you, an admiral out behind you. It’s like Micheal Corleone settling scores at the end of Godfather II. I can’t believe someone isn’t behind all this.

  46. SebastianDangerfield says:

    @Sponson: Excellent point. I have never seen a screen grab, and the sources I thought had pull quotes from the “original” Fox report are actually from the Nov. 12 Fox report that clearly laid out that Fox has sources saying that the Annex was holding prisoners before the attack, from Libya and elsewhere. The Oct. 26 Jennifer Griffin report — at least as it currently stands — says nothing about prisoners. Perhaps there was a Fox video segment making that claim, but no one has pointed to it if that does exist. Very, very strange.

  47. greengiant says:

    @Sponson: I have seen no proof either way whether Broadwell really used the foxnews report. Some have speculated Broadwell or her clique were the source of that article.

    Here is todays link.

    Fox news Jennifer Griffin herself says that Fox reported In the original Oct. 26 Fox News report, “sources at the annex said that the CIA’s Global Response Staff had handed over three Libyan militia members to the Libyan authorities who came to rescue the 30 Americans in the early hours of Sept. 12.”


  48. rg says:

    @Sponson: If you read carefully Broadwell’s remarks at the Denver speech, you’ll see that she said two things. First she noted that Fox News had reported the story about the prisoners,then said that she had learned about the prisoners “from a distribution list that I’m on”. So she herself has denied Fox as her source of this information. That Fox insists she got the info from them is an interesting twist in itself.

  49. Sponson says:

    @SebastianDangerfield, @greengiant, @rg, thanks all for responding. Now I would like to note, in Denver Broadwell specifically talked about the idea of CIA holding prisoners as being the motivation for the initial attack on the consulate; however the current version of the October 26th Fox web story is making reference to something previously reported in other places, which is that three people captured after the initial attack were handed over later. Broadwell of course might have been “mistaken,” but why would you attack the consulate (she explicitly says they did) to free prisoners that have not yet been taken captive? The “distribution list” mention is also intriguing, but note that on Monday of this week (November 12th) fox news, while taking “credit” for Broadwell’s Denver story, also further elaborated on it and described the CIA annex as basically a black site containing even prisoners from countries other than LIbya!

  50. SebastianDangerfield says:

    @Sponson: @greengiant: What Sponson said. I should have been more precise: By “prisoners,” I meant the blockbuster revelation — if true — that the Annex was holding a passel of prisoners from Libya and other African nations *before* the attack and the idea that that might have been the motive for the attack. I seem to recall that lots of outlets were reporting that three of the actual attackers were captured.

  51. MoreQuestions says:

    Re article saying Broadwell “acted as intermediary for questions from Petraeus.”

    Was Petraeus really asking? Or was it just Broadwell asking… “researching” on her own? And possibly never informing P? Wonder if this is connected to computer/files grab from B?

  52. Frank33 says:

    Vice Admiral Robert S Harward went to a Party Sunday Nov.11, Veterans Day It was at 1005 Bay Shore at the Kelley’s mansion. The Party was a birthday party. Or it may have been a Halloween Party. But it was not a commemoration of Veteran’s Day. And the Admiral may have been interrupted by lurkers with cameras. They had to call 9-1-1.

    Harward was in full dress whites and Kelley wore a tight-fitting red dress.

    Of course for identical twins Jill and Natalie every party can be Halloween. Harward caught Senior Adminstration Officials attention. The Admiral also caught Jill’s attention.

    Admiral Harward caught the attention of senior White House officials while working on counterterrorism as a military staff officer on the National Security Council after he had commanded Special Operations forces in Afghanistan. He brought to the White House experience combining military, intelligence and diplomacy to fight terrorism.

    “We had to build a whole different network,” Admiral Harward said of the task facing the government after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, “with the ‘intel’ community, with the embassy country teams, with the whole interagency.”

    Harward also controls the Torture Prisons in Afghanistan.

  53. greenbird says:

    26 October Griffin report: This would be the “after,” not before?
    “…According to a source on the ground at the time of the attack, the team inside the CIA annex had captured three Libyan attackers and was forced to hand them over to the Libyans. U.S. officials do not know what happened to those three attackers and whether they were released by the Libyan forces.”

  54. rg says:

    I just went back to look at exactly what Ms Broadwell had said about that distribution list. What I located seemed different from the article I’d previously seen. Nevertheless, I now see that what I’ve stated has been a misunderstanding and a misrepresentation of her remarks, and I apologize for doing so. She apparently was quoting the Griffin article and had gotten it from a distribution list.

  55. ryan says:

    @Frank33: Kelley is the Forrest Gump of intel and counterterrorism.

    I’m going to create a game-book to sell online by patching together old press pics of the military. Players will search for Kelley in the background of the photos. A Where’s Waldo you can share with your more violent child!

  56. Sponson says:

    @SebastianDangerfield, @greengiant, @rg, having I hope successfully pointed out that saying “prisoners caught in the consulate attack were handed over to the Brigade later from the CIA annex” (Griffin on broadcast story) is quite different from what Broadwell said in Denver (that freeing pre-existing prisoners was probably the motivation for the initial attack on the consulate). Furthermore, I still find it quite unlikely that Fox News, as dishonest as they are, actually ‘scrubbed” their web article between October 26th and November 12th. In my opinion the likelihood of someone having saved a version of the original story on October 26th and raising a fuss is too much of a risk for them to take. It’s still of course possible that Broadwell simply misread the article on October 26th and was speculating. But my wider point is this; assume she simply made a mistake. Given her known connection to Petraeus just as a biographer, her security clearance, and her secretly-under-investigation status at the time, shouldn’t her remarks have set off alarms with someone, anyone, who was watching the speech and had the national security and the President’s best interests in mind?

  57. ryanwc says:

    Hadn’t realized till reading the Guardian piece that the man Humphries shot dead at MacDill was a soldier.

  58. Frank33 says:

    You should make it a computer game, with “37” levels.

    And it should have False Flag Ops. With a scenario of a incendiary “movie”, and a Libyan militia that is an Al Qaeda appendage and then the Ambassador is killed and abandoned along with weapons, prisoners, and classified documents.

  59. Frank33 says:


    “There was absolutely no romantic involvement or relationship whatsoever between Agent Humphries and Jill Kelley,” his lawyer, Lawrence Berger, told ABC News.

    I was so hoping…oh well. The Air Force has yet to be heard from.

  60. orionatl says:

    @joanneleon: @joanneleon:

    i really appreciate this kind of thinking and then writing/speaking

    a question i was asking myself todsy was this:

    if you took what petraeus/cia said happened in benghazi, say 2 wks before to two weeks after the consulate/cia-station attack

    and then

    you took what every other significant stakeholder – u.s. dept of state, militia leaders, libyan gov’t, u.s. nsa, whitehouse, republican party presidential campaign- said,

    and then,

    you put them all in a chart,

    what would be the really significant, evidently harmful, differences between cia and the rest of the field?

    i would guess little of consequence.

    what happened at the benghazi consulatetis what happens in every war – good people die from bad luck, bad info, bad judgement, bad equipment, beyrayal, cowardice, et al.

    did the cia make some error? could be? i’d be astinushed if they did

    did the cia do exactly what the whitehouse, state dept, republican
    party do – tell the very plastic “history” of that event from the viewpoint most favorable to them?

    of course they did; why would they do otherwise?

    i’d like to see some reliable information on what led up to and then what followed the attack,

    but i am skeptical that any FAIR assessment of blame should fall heavily on either state dept or cia.

    in human affairs, because humans have language and language transmission technology,

    multi-causality is the name of any sensible analytic game.

    in short, always mark the equivalent of “all of the above”.

    then look for the occasional single-variable explanation.

  61. orionatl says:


    it’s been pretty clear for a while that we are dealing with mental illness, or at least one of those “[email protected] mental health problems like agoraphobia (just an example. definitely not that lady’s problem).

  62. Frank33 says:

    This is sad. Paula flunked out of Harvard. Guess which General she glommed onto next.

    That Afghan Butcher, General McChrystal. Excellent choice! She wanted to do a War Report on how to win the war. Then there is this.

    She was appointed to the U.S. Military Academy, graduated in 1995 and served five years as an active-duty intelligence officer in Europe and South Korea. She remained an active-duty officer until 2000, when she transferred to the Army Reserves and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel.

    Intelligence Officer! South Korea!…Slowly I turned…Step by step…

  63. orionatl says:


    and by the way,

    and unrelated to anythingni have writtennhere,

    tampa used to be maffia territory.

    ask jim white (or humphreys) about this :>))

  64. orionatl says:

    @P J Evans:

    indeed, p.j.

    and my own sanity!

    i don’t know how much more of this nutso three-ring-circus i can take.

    “so, orion, why are you still reading and commenting,”

    “uh, uh,.. i was kinda hopin’ you wouldn’t ask that question.

    may i be excused?

    i’ll get back to you in a sec. promise.”

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