When the Petreaus resignation originally broke my take was that the administration had tried to blackmail him into backing up its official line on Benghazi, but he had refused and resigned instead. That seemed courageous.
I am now of a different opinion. Given the lack of concrete information, this is speculative, but my current speculations run as follows.
First, the Benghazi and Petreaus-Broadwell strands of the story were and are for the most part completely independent, and that the administration didn’t use the latter to try to dragoon Petreaus to stay on the reservation regarding the former.
My take is that AG Holder and FBI Director Mueller would have just sat on the investigation of Broadwell and Petraues hadn’t the wacked out FBI agent gone telling tales to Congressmen. They didn’t really care about Petraeus’s personal life, and judged that it was not a security threat. Once the story had escaped into the wild, however, all bets were off. They definitely managed it so that it would not go viral until after the election, but I now doubt that Petreaus’s resignation and the revelations had anything to do with his impending Benghazi testimony. They just didn’t want his resignation to create turmoil immediately before the election.
(And by the way. Why in hell did the FBI even care about some nasty emails sent to some diva? If you or I received some “back off, varmit” emails, and went to the FBI, would they really launch a full-scale federal investigation?)
Second, insofar as Benghazi is concerned, it is evident that the annex in that city was engaged in a variety of highly sensitive covert activities. For one, attempting to scoop up weapons that could flow to Islamists/terrorists, in Syria and elsewhere. (Note: those who believe that the CIA was smuggling guns to the Syrian opposition are logically challenged. They “reason” as follows: 1. The CIA was collecting weapons in Benghazi. 2. Weapons were shipped from Libya to Islamic extremists in Syria. Ergo, 3. The CIA was shipping weapons from Libya to Islamic extremists in Syria. Er, no. It’s far more plausible that concerns about weapons going to Islamists in Syria and elsewhere caused the CIA to try to stem the flow, and that’s what they were doing in Benghazi.) For another, there are reports from Jennifer Griffin claiming that “multiple sources” confirm that the CIA was holding prisoners at the Benghazi annex. Indeed, Broadwell made the same claim in a speech at the University of Denver on the same day Griffin first made a rather ambiguous reference to prisoners at the site: interestingly, this was after Broadwell had been questioned by the FBI. (Warning shot across the bows of the administration? Dunno, but this can’t be coincidental.)
Evidently, the CIA was trying desperately to get the people it held there out of the facility. Given the events that transpired, this is totally understandable. The facility was obviously terribly vulnerable.
There is considerable outrage over Petraeus’s testimony before the Joint Intelligence Committee, during which he allegedly endorsed the MoVid story. Take note: the source of this information is a statement by a member of the committee, not a video or transcript of Petreaus’s testimony. Thus, people are jumping to conclusions regarding the entirety of Petreaus’s testimony.
Take this with considerable skepticism. Here’s what makes most sense to me. Revelations about the activities at the annex would have been explosive, especially given that they would have been in violation of an Obama executive order. A secret CIA facility would also have been an obvious target for attack, especially if it was interfering with the operations of local jihadis, and was indeed holding some prisoner. Meaning that a failure to anticipate an attack, or to be prepared for it, would have been extremely embarrassing.
So my conjecture is that Petraeus gave a frank appraisal of what happened, and what the CIA was doing in Benghazi. He and the Committee agreed that this could not be disclosed, so they went with the story du jour-the MoVid-to obscure the inconvenient truth. Given that this is a joint committee, such an understanding could explain the bipartisan efforts to paint Broadwell as a crazed seducer/stalker, rather than a smart and distinguished USMA grad, triathlete, and Harvard PhD. (I won’t hold the WooPoo and Harvard connections against her.)
As an aside, Krauthammer’s claim that Petraeus gave misleading testimony (a) in order to support the administration line, because (b) the administration had him in a compromised position, doesn’t make sense, precisely because of the evidence Krauthammer cites to support it. Krauthammer cites in support of this view the fact that Patreaus’s alleged testimony (which again, we have only been told about by an Intel Committee member) diverged from that of Panetta. But this story would require that Panetta was going rogue, because that is the only reason he would have diverged from the administration line.
So where does this leave us? Well, we should leave the Petreaus-Broadwell story behind. This should be about Benghazi first, last, and foremost. In particular, if the CIA was running some highly sensitive operations out of the annex there, the lack of preparations for an attack become even more outrageously negligent. The place was in Indian country, and if the reports are correct, it was doing things that were highly inconvenient to the jihadi Indians in the neighborhood. Meaning that an attack was likely, not merely possible. Further meaning that the facility should have had better defenses, and more importantly, robust backup at the ready. But none was at hand, with fatal results.
This situation demands thorough Congressional audit-which in turn demands Petreaus’s testimony. The outcome could be explosive, because it potentially implicates Obama’s actions in Libya going back into 2011, and because it could reveal that the Candidate Who Ran on Closing Gitmo (and who issued an EO banning detentions) is the President Who Perpetuates the Policies of the Evil Bush.
Prior to the election, I feared that the worst outcome would be that Benghazi would not be resolved before 11/6; that Obama would win; and that his second term would be consumed by a bruising battle over the festering issues of the before, during, and after of 9/11/12. Immediately after the election, I believed that would not in fact happen, because it appeared that the Republicans were content to bury the matter in the aftermath of their bruising defeat. Now I think it is a very real possibility, though it will unfold in a way that I-nobody, actually, could have anticipated before Petreaus’s resignation.
Another long, national nightmare? It could be.