Benghazi Consulate Massacre: questions about the CIA’s mission there

**Posted by Phineas

One of the interesting revelations in all the tawdry news surrounding former CIA Director Petraeus’ affair with Paula Broadwell (1) concerns the mission of the CIA annex in Benghazi, the location to which diplomats were whisked after the consulate was overrun and where two former SEALs lost their lives defending them. According to Petraeus’s former mistress, the CIA was running a secret prison at the site, and the attack may have been a raid to rescue the prisoners. Speaking at an alumni symposium at the university of Denver, she:

…confirmed the reports on Fox News that the CIA annex asked for a special unit, the Commander in Chief’s In Extremis Force, to come and assist it. She also said that the force could indeed have reinforced the consulate, and that Petraeus knew all of this, but was not allowed to talk to the press because of his position in the CIA.

“The challenge has been the fog of war, and the greater challenge is that it’s political hunting season, and so this whole thing has been turned into a very political sort of arena, if you will,” she said. “The fact that came out today is that the ground forces there at the CIA annex, which is different from the consulate, were requesting reinforcements.

“They were requesting the – it’s called the C-in-C’s In Extremis Force – a group of Delta Force operators, our very, most talented guys we have in the military. They could have come and reinforced the consulate and the CIA annex. Now, I don’t know if a lot of you have heard this but the CIA annex had actually taken a couple of Libyan militia members prisoner, and they think that the attack on the consulate was an attempt to get these prisoners back. It’s still being vetted.

“The challenging thing for Gen. 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 Libya, within 24 hours they kind of knew what was happening.”

“Commander in Chief’s In Extremis Force” refers, I believe, to a force controlled by the regional commander, in this case the head of Africom, not forces directly controlled by the President. It should also be noted that, later in her talk, Broadwell gave some support to the infamous YouTube video as one source for the disaster: the Libyan jihadis, seeing the disturbances in Cairo and elsewhere, decided this would give them good cover for their real motive.

The CIA denied had earlier denied refusing to render aid to its Benghazi station, and now denies maintaining a secret prison, but Jennifer Griffin, a reporter who’s been doing real journalism on Benghazi, maintains that there was a CIA prison there and that it contained more than just a couple of Libyans:

According to multiple intelligence sources who have served in Benghazi, there were more than just Libyan militia members who were held and interrogated by CIA contractors at the CIA annex in the days prior to the attack. Other prisoners from additional countries in Africa and the Middle East were brought to this location.

The Libya annex was the largest CIA station in North Africa, and two weeks prior to the attack, the CIA was preparing to shut it down. Most prisoners, according to British and American intelligence sources, had been moved two weeks earlier.

The CIA, though, categorically denied these allegations, saying: “The CIA has not had detention authority since January 2009, when Executive Order 13491 was issued. Any suggestion that the agency is still in the detention business is uninformed and baseless.”

So no we have a massive case of “he said, she said,” only involving much more than marital infidelity. James Taranto quotes Griffin to ask some pertinent questions:

Griffin concludes with the question: “What was the CIA really doing in Benghazi . . ., and who in the White House knew exactly what the CIA was up to?” Did the CIA act in contravention of the executive order, and if so, did the president approve? Did the order create a need to keep up appearances that led to the deaths of Americans in the field?

So now, on top of the Benghazi massacre, we need to know if our CIA Director was sharing highly classified information pertaining to our war with Islamism with his mistress. And, implied in Griffin and Taranto’s questions, did the President even know? Apparently Attorney General Holder, to whom the FBI reports, knew about the investigation for months… but didn’t tell Obama that his CIA chief was potentially severely compromised? Really?

But, then again, people apparently don’t tell Holder about important things, either.

This administration’s talent for being left in the dark is impressive, no?

Maybe it’s time for the relevant committees of Congress to shine some light on that darkness.

Footnote:
(1) I honestly don’t give a rat’s rear-end about Petraeus’ infidelity, other than it disgraces an otherwise stellar career and shows a profound lack of judgment and sense on the part of someone entrusted with a critical role in our nation’s security. We are owed answers here, and I don’t care who Congress has to subpoena to get it.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

In which the Charlotte Observer covers for Obama on the #Petraeus affair scandal

So predictable. They write this under the guise of wanting “questions to be answered” as to who knew what and when, but in the process take the giant leap of asserting without question that Obama was never told that his CIA director was under investigation. From the editorial page (bolded emphasis added by me):

“Men in general judge more from appearances than from reality,” Machiavelli said, and so theories behind David Petraeus’ resignation as CIA director abound.

Was news of his extramarital affair kept secret until last week so as not to harm President Obama’s reelection chances? Is Petraeus’ resignation a way for him to avoid answering questions about the killings in Benghazi, Libya?

The apparent failure of the FBI and the Department of Justice to tell anyone about the investigation for several months naturally raises these sorts of questions and many others. The first strikes us as far more legitimate than the second.

The FBI began investigating the case early last summer, and by late summer knew Petraeus was involved. And yet no one told Petraeus’ boss, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, until months later – at 5 p.m. on Election Day, to be precise. The FBI says it was investigating whether national security had been compromised but never briefed leaders of the House and Senate intelligence committees. And, apparently, Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller III, who meet with Obama regularly, knew what was going on with one of the most important individuals in the administration but did not tell the president.

The law requires that both Congress and the director of national intelligence be informed “in a timely manner” about “significant intelligence activities.” What is “significant,” however, is left to the discretion of an agency’s director (in this case Mueller).

[….]

Given that fact, this bombshell dropping hours after the presidential election raises suspicions, fairly or not.

The idea that Petraeus’ resignation is designed to avoid testifying before Congress about Benghazi is a stretch. Congress can still order him to appear, and should do so.

FBI and CIA leaders will meet with congressional intelligence committee leaders on Wednesday. It’s about time, and about time for some answers.

So in the process of “demanding answers”, the Observer helpfully provides “answers” of their own for their readers so they, you know, don’t have to think for themselves (surprise). They assert: 1) Obama “apparently” knew nothing. Really? How do they know this? Details are still sketchy about who knew what and when and how far up the chain the alleged failure to share information went. Yet the Observer declares without hesitation that the President didn’t know one of the highest ranking officials in his administration was under investigation? 2) “It’s a stretch” to think Petraeus resigned to avoid having to testify on the issue. Oh? Which would make you feel compelled to testify more? Being a high-ranking member of an administration or being a private citizen? Even more to the point, which looks worse? Would it be your unwillingness as a public servant to answer to the people on issues of national importance or your unwillingness to do so as a private citizen?

Like the Observer, I want questions answered as well, but unlike the Observer, I won’t pretend I have all the answers. Let the inquires begin as soon as possible before this administration gets the chance to muddy the waters as they did on Benghazi with so much deliberate misinformation and lies that it is hard to know what the truth actually is. I look forward to finding out more information by listening to the key players involved in the months-long investigation – who most assuredly be called to testify, rather than swallowing whole the “answers” the Charlotte Observer pretends to have but in reality does not.