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.

(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)

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