Broadwell’s Denver Appearance: Did She Cover Petraeus’ Bad Briefs?


Update: Sadly, it appears that the University of Denver has become cowardly and withdrawn the video, but I’m leaving the embed language in the post just to show the folly of their action.

Update 2: And now it’s back, but at a new URL. Embed should be restored (for the video, not Broadwell…)

There was a lot of discussion last night of the YouTube you see here, which shows Paula Broadwell in an October 26 appearance at the University of Denver. One of the better analyses of the appearance, along with a transcription of Broadwell’s comments on the Behghazi incident, was written by Blake Hounshell of Foreign Policy.

I will leave it to others to discuss whether Broadwell disclosed classified information with her reference to the CIA holding two militia members or if she might have been confused on that point as Marcy suggests. I want to concentrate on two other points that jumped out to me regarding the appearance and what Broadwell said.

First, the appearance is at the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies. As the school points out, it is named after Madeleine Albright’s father and has a history of producing prominent graduates in international relations. However, this school also came to my attention early last year when I was researching Raymond Davis. I found that Davis had a history of previous addresses where he had lived in close proximity to university programs such as the Josef Korbel school. In fact, I found that one of Davis’ “business” operations even had a corporate officer who appeared to be a student at Josef Korbel. The information I found led me to believe that whatever his duties overseas, it seemed likely that Davis’ duties while in the US may have been to recruit for the CIA and that graduate programs like this one were seen as prime recruiting grounds.

The second point I want to hit is how Broadwell described Petraeus’ response after the Behnghazi attack. From Hounshell’s transcript (around 35 minutes into the video, as Hounshell points out):

The challenging thing for General Petraeus is that in his new position, he’s not allowed to communicate with the press. So he’s known all of this — they had correspondence with the CIA station chief in, in Libya. Within 24 hours they kind of knew what was happening.

But if you remember at the time — the Muslim video, the Mohamed video that came out, the demonstrations that were going on in Cairo — there were demonsrations in 22 other countries around the world. Tens of thousands of people. And our government was very concerned that this was going to become a nightmare for us.

So you can understand if you put yourself in his shoes or Secretary Clinton’s shoes or the president’s shoes that we thought it was tied somehow to the demonstrations in Cairo. And it’s true that we have signal intelligence that shows the, um, the militia members in Libya were watching the demonstration in Cairo and it did sort of galvanize their effort. Um, so we’ll find out the facts soon enough.

As a former intel officer it’s frustrating to me because it reveals our sources and methods. I don’t think the public necessarily needs to know all of that. It is a tragedy that we lost an ambassador and two other government officials. Um, and something — there was a failure in the system because there was additional security requested. But it’s frustrating to see the sort of political aspect of what’s going on with this whole investigation.

I think it is appropriate and a good thing that Broadwell reminds the audience that there had been demonstrations (and she didn’t even point out that some were violent) in over twenty countries that day and that those demonstrations did indeed seem to be in response to the anti-Mohammed video. However, the rest of what Broadwell said I think is misleading at best and is aimed at trying to deflect from the evidence that Petraeus gamed the way he briefed Congress and the White House on the incident.

Recall that I brought up back on October 19 that there was evidence that for nearly a week afterward, Petraeus continued to brief Congress and the White House that the attack was in response to the video when it has been established (as Broadwell reminds us) within 24 hours that the attack was planned and not a spontaneous video protest. So while Broadwell is right in saying that Petraeus couldn’t share this information with the public, what she omits from her remarks is that Petraeus is obligated to share what he knows with Congress and the White House and that for a week after the attack, he was misleading both in what well may have been a political ploy aimed at providing an edge for Mitt Romney in the final stages of the election. That Broadwell would end this section of her remarks by lamenting the “politics” of the situation is pure hypocrisy.

Finally, the timeline for this appearance deserves some consideration. This recent article from the New York Times says that Broadwell was first interviewed by the FBI “the week of October 21”. The appearance is on October 26, so it is very likely she had already talked to the FBI (or at least knew that they wanted to talk to her) before this appearance. The same article says Petraeus was interviewed “the following week” although this post from Marcy presents evidence he may have been interviewed in the October 25-26 range.

In other words, it’s almost a certainty that the FBI had interviewed Broadwell before she made this appearance in Denver. It appears that she had decided that her disclosure to the FBI that she had had an adulterous affair with the Director of the CIA was not going to interrupt her stated goal of one day becoming the National Security Advis0r. While we can’t fault her ambition, this behavior certainly seems to call her judgment into serious question.

39 replies
  1. Frank33 says:

    So you can understand if you put yourself in his shoes or Secretary Clinton’s shoes or the president’s shoes that we thought it was tied somehow to the demonstrations in Cairo.

    I do not understand. Oh yes I do. All of the neo-con players are betraying someone. This is such a clumsy conspiracy. You could put yourself in Hillary’s shoes. But Paula wanted to wear the Condi Rice Power Boots.

    Guilty, guilty, guilty.

  2. bmaz says:

    The first interview with Broadwell was “the week of October 21”. Since the speech at Denver was on the 26th, a Friday, she was almost surely interviewed prior to that.

  3. DonS says:

    Strikes me it might well be appropriate — assuming he has somewhat clean hands — for the pres to appoint a special counsel . . . .

    The tilt toward Mitt pretty much jumps out. Of course the pres sat on this till after the election too; if it had broken before the election Mitt et al would be screaming “Scandal!”, regardless of it involving St Betraeus.

  4. emptywheel says:

    There could be other interpretations of this.

    Say she’s right about us holding prisoners (it would be consistent with what we’re doing in Somalia). Would revealing it help or hurt Petraeus?

    While her lessons on leadership thing in the DB was certainly typically insipid, revealing the CIA had violated O’s EO (possibly with his consent) wouldn’t help him. Or would it?

  5. lefty665 says:

    Um, would you consider a friendly amendment to the headline and make that “Did she cover Petraeus’ bad boy briefs”? Or maybe it’s already implied.

  6. orionat says:

    has it been ruled out that broadwell is not cia, say the out-on-your-own-limb, valery plame type or msybe an nsc official?

    here it seems she’s commenting on a national security matter involving the general sometime after she had given up her intimate relationship with him. at worst she’s being a good sport and loyal friend, but this appearance seems more professional, as if she were a spokesperson or other official.

  7. joanneleon says:

    So it sounds like, at this point, it is possible that both she and Petraeus had been through the FBI interviews and were not too worried about being outed or losing any jobs, etc. Is it possible that they had already been assured that the case would be closed and the whole thing kept confidential?

    I wonder if the identity of the whistleblower will ever be revealed. From the news articles, it sounds like Cantor spoke to the whistleblower personally, so if he knows who it is, and/or his staff knows, there’s a good chance that identity will come out eventually. I would not feel very safe if I were that person and my identity was known.

    Jim, that’s a very interesting observation about Lt. Col. Davis and about Broadwell’s ambitions. The profile of her from the early articles is so much different than it is now. She was a military intelligence officer (reserves?) before but is now a veteran. I don’t know if the inference is that she is now CIA or not.

  8. orionat says:

    cf this quote from ms broadwell:

    “… it’s true that we have signal intelligence that shows the, um, the militia members in Libya were watching the demonstration in Cairo and it did sort of galvanize their effort. Um, so we’ll find out the facts soon enough…”

  9. bmaz says:

    @joanneleon: No, Petraeus was not interviewed until the week following Broadwell’s October 26 speech at DU, likely early to mid week, say October 29-31 and Braodwell interviewed a second time on Friday November 2nd.

  10. joanneleon says:

    When you try to open up that video in YouTube (by clicking on the youtube icon at the bottom right), it says it is private and will not open up in a separate youtube page.

    However, it will embed properly on an html page.

  11. Jim White says:

    @joanneleon: And now when I click on it in my embed or in Hounshell’s embed I get the message that it has been removed by the user. It had been posted by the University of Denver. I’m guessing they are feeling some heat over the accusations that Broadwell divulged classified information.

  12. DonS says:

    Yeah, you tube definitely gone; guess Broadwell’s attorney’s are busy stuffing fingers in the dike . . .

    Anyway, I watched a few minutes of the self-congratulatory video but figured I’d had enough. Just past the early part where she lovingly describes the Iraq ‘shock and awe’ as “winning the war” (sic) and stating that as a woman she wanted to understand how to use the levers of power implied in that awesome — could it be otherwise — carnage of a helpless people.

    Even then, we’re talking high school, she was thinking about wanting to be an ambassador. I know I shouldn’t be surprised, but I sometimes wonder how we turn out these myopic — albeit intelligent seeming — bots. I guess, as my wife would say, she never got pushed around on the playground, so this whole affair (!) must come as a big shock to her inflated ego.

  13. yellowsnapdragon says:

    It’s difficult to believe that a friend of the Petreus family would alert authorities about harassing emails from Petreus’ email account. Why not just ask Petreus WTF? He’s a big name in the government and she’s a volunteer ambassador and family friend and she felt it necessary to go directly to authorities? Sounds off to me.

  14. Frank33 says:

    The Paula Shagwell video has been disappeared!

    I am guessing the thousands of e-mails from the General to his women, will be disappeared.

  15. Jim White says:

    @bmaz: Very hard to see what that accomplishes at this point, though. There were thousands of views before they took it down and they can’t pull the transcripts that other people have posted.

    Of course, if they still want a conduit of their students into working for the Other Government Agency, I can see this as a courtesy move.

  16. lefty665 says:

    @Jim White: Heh, heh, heh. Get in a car with a dirty old man for some “Lucky Stars” little girl?

    More earnestly, what are the chances this will be a pretty good exhibition of the collection of all traffic in recent years? Did the FBI say “Gee Dave, we’d like to look at your personal email, haven’t deleted anything or done anything else funny have you?” or did they skedaddle over to Meade and say “Please (gotta ask nice) dump us everything Kelley or Broadwell wrote or talked into a phone, and that of anyone else identified in their communications. Please include surveillance camera footage, credit card transactions and cell phone geo locations”.

    Techie question, does cell phone tracking include altitude “humps” and velocity?

  17. ryan says:

    There are definitely some interesting wheels inside of wheels inside of empty wheels here. Kelley’s maiden name is Khawam, and her parents John and Marcelle immigrated from Lebanon in the ‘mid-70s’, roughly the time when she was born. Did the mere ‘social liaison’ to CentComm grow up speaking Arabic? Christian native Arabic speakers have to be a tremendously valuable resource to Centcomm, particularly to the intel side of the business, the Special Operations Command, also at MacDill. You know, valuable as “social liasons”. Even if they merely grew up hearing Syriac at church, this would make Arabic a pretty easy language to pick up, since they’re full of cognates. Local lore is “ditzy social climber”, but her identical twin sister is an attorney. Yeah, I know some idiot attorneys, but you could see other explanations for an intel asset posing as a ditzy socialite who just happens to hang out with the former commander of the Afghan war because he likes to watch boat parades from pretty houses on the bay.

    Amusingly, Kelley’s twin sister seems to have specialized in representing whistleblowers. Health care whistleblowers, so not entirely relevant, but still amusing.

    Broadwell was at some point the Deputy Director of the Jebsen Center for Counterterrorism Studies (or “JCOC, which regularly sends personnel over to JSOC” What teen-aged boy came up with those acronyms?)

    The Daily News has an interview with Broadwell’s father Paul Kranz, who says there is more going on here, but he can’t say what. Idle speculation by an angry protective father?

  18. orionat says:


    thanks, ryan.

    the info about kelley was particularly interesting. it resolved a small question i had about her and her sister’s looks. strikingly beautiful faces but not your “ordinary” american face. i had wondered if they might be greek (there’s a greek community close by) or amer-indian. now i know – lebanese.

  19. Frank33 says:

    Natalie seems to have worked as a minor functionary for the Bushie’s on Health Care. Her Whistleblowing has to do with medical fraud. Although I do not know if she is for it or against it.

    She is a minor player, although quite snark-worthy. Note the picture. Natalie is next to the General and his hand is on her butt. Just kidding!!! And Natalie and Jill have the same pose. They are cuter than a pair of kittens.

    Jill has hired a crisis manager and a heavy weight dee cee attorney. Someone needs to explain to me what “social laison” is. Does it have anything to do with Armed Drones?

    Kelley serves as an unpaid social liaison to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, where the military’s Central Command and Special Operations Command are located.

    The official spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the case publicly.

    Jill Kelley and her husband, Scott, hired Washington, D.C.-based crisis manager Judy Smith and attorney Abbe Lowell.

  20. joanneleon says:

    Yeah, I guess I’m not surprised that they pulled the youtube video but what I wonder is what they were thinking for the past few days and why they didn’t pull it on Friday.

    Hope somebody downloaded it. I have already seen excerpts of it in news reports up on youtube but don’t know if anybody has reposted the entire thing. Chances are the news media got the whole thing though and the damning parts are already in various youtube mash ups.

    Hmm, a quick survey shows, I don’t see those other videos but a couple are left:

    P.S. Did I tell you that sleeveless and big necklaces were all the rage on the Beltway and among the media or what?

  21. rugger9 says:

    @orionat: #8
    Plame was not “out on a limb” by her own efforts, she was shoved out there by Bushies for political expediency. Unless you have contemporary evidence to the contrary, please correct this detail. Thanks.

  22. rugger9 says:

    @Jim White:
    I’m not sure what liability DU could possibly have with respect to the video, unless they prescreened the remarks and I can’t see this Rovian operative agreeing to that.

    Perhaps the legal beagles have more as to why DU has the willies if all they did is tape a public meeting like every other one there?

  23. joanneleon says:

    In this 6 minute YouTube segment, the one that most people are talking about, Broadwell says she was with Special Forces too. This is the third different thing I’ve heard about her military career. Before this, I heard “reservist” and military intelligence. I have heard that she served for 10 years and I’ve also heard 15 years.

    Wikipedia says:

    She served in the United States Army and the United States Army Reserve. She was promoted to lieutenant colonel in the Reserves in August 2012.[13]

    She was Deputy Director of the Jebsen Center for Counter-Terrorism Studies at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.[3] She also worked with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force.[3]

    Interesting, FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force.

    In that video, she uses the word “we” and speaks like she is an active duty officer in a leadership role. Wikipedia says she is a Lt. Colonel, so she is pretty highly ranked. As of a few months ago, she got a promotion. So when did she retire from the military?

    Her Twitter bio says she is a veteran.

    Author (All In: The Education of Gen David Petraeus); National Security Analyst; Army Vet; Women’s Rights Activist; Runner/Skier/Surfer; Wife; Mom!

    How does she know the details of the situation in Benghazi? Her book was published in January, nearly a year ago. Their relationship has been over for months, or so we were told. If she is not active duty, no longer acting as a biographer for Petraeus, wasn’t CIA to begin with, and is now a journalist and a student, retired from the military, how the heck did she know these kinds of details and why does she keep using the word “we”?

    In one case she mentions that something was reported on Fox News, but (just my opinion) I didn’t get the impression that she got her information there. She says that we had sigint that showed us Libyan militia members watching the anti-Muslim videos. She talks about militia members being held prisoner. She also, at one point says something like “this is not the kind of thing that the public should know” but there she was talking about it to civilians and it was all taped and posted on youtube.

    Yeah, I can see why they pulled this from YouTube.

    One last thing — she brings up the point that Delta force was available to go and protect the embassy/CIA station. Is she saying that they could have been deployed but that the leaders at State and/or the White House chose not to? If so, I would guess this is why Issa and the Republicans were shouting about how the president could have done more to protect but did not, and maybe this ties in with the other rumors swirling about Gen. Ham.

  24. orionATL says:


    i was referring to her job as a cia agent who had no official protection; she worked in a special job category called NOC (non-official cover) in which she had no diplomatric protection.

  25. orionATL says:


    nice digging. very informative for me.

    i’ve wondered whether she has been acting in some special official capacity. so this comment of yours “In that video, she uses the word “we” and speaks like she is an active duty officer in a leadership role” caught my attentnion also.

    but now i’m beginning to wonder if she isn’t just a remarkable self-promoter and a power groupie.

  26. rugger9 says:

    @orionATL: #35
    OK, it sounded differently to me, because Broadwell is chirping in public because she wants to and it keeps Rove happy. Plame stayed out of the spotlight in a very difficult job at very high risk. I agree about the publicity hound designator for Broadwell.

    If DU pulled the tape over security concerns it’s way too late for that. One must assume on the ‘Net that any exposure means at least a screen capture or download. Once it is on someone else’s server it lasts forever. The fact that Faux also talked about the critical info means it’s not a secret any more. If they go after Assange for this kind of thing, why not Rupert?

  27. d. shatin says:

    dear paula, what was Betraeous doing when the Bengazi attack on our Ambassador and Special Ops Forces occurred? conspiratorial duplicity or just too busy fucking to notice a murderous attack on the US Consulate in Bengazi…

    this entire matter stinks of Linda Tripp, Michael Isikoff, Lucinda Goldbergs’ out to get Clinton using Lewinsky as bait.

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