The Petraeus Affair

The case involving the resignation of David Petraeus becomes more tangled as additional information leaks out.  In fact, the story changes daily. The question is, what information is true and what is disinformation?  An accurate timeline of events would be helpful, but in the meantime, there are some preliminary points to be made.

Petraeus spent a year in Afghanistan with Paula Broadwell at his side when she was researching his biography.  However, the administration claims that they did not start an affair until two months after Petraeus started his job as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency on 6 September 2011.  This doesn't make much sense.  Petraeus was then living in Washington, D.C., while Broadwell was living in Charlotte, North Carolina, about 400 miles away.  Moreover, Petraeus must have known that while he might hide an affair in Afghanistan, he would have to undergo a lifestyle polygraph and special background investigation as an employee of CIA.  Why would he start an affair in Washington instead of Afghanistan?  Presumably, their affair continued via email due to the separation.  So the assertion that the affair started in Washington seems to be disinformation, but why?

In my preliminary estimation, what happened was this:  Sometime in the late summer, 2012, Eric Holder, Attorney General, was told about an FBI investigation into Petraeus.  No doubt he told President Obama about it at that time.  The investigation was probably launched soon after Jill Kelley complained in May about harrassing emails from Broadwell.  My guess is that Kelley realized that Petraeus was having an affair with a woman who was obsessed and became alarmed enough to notify the FBI because of security implications. 

Knowledge of his affair with Broadwell, then, was not deemed important enough to disqualify Petraeus from becoming head of CIA.  In fact, it wasn't disclosed even to Congress. Senator Feinstein complained that she and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence were not told about the Petraeus affair until he resigned.  Obviously, if they knew, any leverage the administration had with Petraeus would be voided. 

In the meantime, the attack on the facilities in Benghazi occurred on 11 September 2012.  Soon after that, Petraeus testified to Congress that the attack was likely the result of mobs angry over the video that insulted Mohammed.  This was the line the administration was publicizing even though Petraeus and the White House knew virtually the same day that the attack was the work of terrorists and a mob had nothing to do with it.  (Fox News is the only mainstream media source investigating the Benghazi affair and has produced most of the information available to the public.  The other media outlets have largely ignored the story or parroted the administration's version of events.)  So why did Petraeus deliberately lie?

My guess is that he was blackmailed by the administration.  I believe the FBI knew that the affair started when Petraeus was still commanding forces in Afghanistan.  Not only was that a distraction from his responsibilities, it was also illegal under Article 134 of the UCMJ.  While adultery usually results in being relieved of command and a letter of reprimand, the penalty can be as severe as dishonorable discharge, loss of pay and benefits, and in addition, up to a year in confinement.  My supposition is that Petraeus was told that if he didn't say what the White House wanted, they'd prosecute him and at the least, cost him a star off of his retirement pension.

But that wasn't the end of it.  On October 26, 2012, Broadwell gave a  speech at the University of Denver in which she said the attack on Benghazi may have been to release a couple of militia who were being detained by the CIA.  That had to be classified information since the CIA vehemently denies it.  After all, it's illegal, by executive order, for the CIA to hold prisoners.  Yet, even Fox News was told in October that not only were a couple of militiamen being held in Benghazi, so were other prisoners.  What is leaked to Fox News may be easily discounted, but when someone close to the Director of the CIA makes that claim, then it has to be taken seriously.  What's more, in her speech at Denver, she said signals intelligence indicated the Libyan terrorists were watching the Cairo demonstrations on TV.  I gather that's when the FBI found the classified documents on Broadwell's home computer.  And there's likely only one place that classified information could have come from, i.e., Petraeus.

Initially, the administration was saying that Petraeus didn't give that information to Broadwell.  It wasn't until much later that they disclosed that Broadwell has a security clearance, although they didn't say to what level.  My guess is that it depends on what her job is as an Army Reserve officer.  If she's still an intelligence officer, she may have Top Secret SCI.   Now the problem seems to be that many classified documents were found on her computer. If Broadwell had access to the classified documents on her computer at the site where she performed her duty, she couldn't send it to her home computer anyway. So while we don't know for sure how she got the documents, she could still be prosecuted for mishandling classified documents.  (One former CIA Director was forced to resign when it was found he was improperly storing classified documents out in the open at his house.) 

Could it be that Petraeus was told that she would not be prosecuted if he agreed to say what the administration wanted about Benghazi during Congressional hearings?  Interestingly, the administration didn't mention that she had a clearance and that the issue was having classified documents at home until Petraeus said he would volunteer to testify despite resigning.  It seems that having lost the ability to pressure him by keeping her violations confidential, they decided to make good on their threat.

So why did the administration force Petraeus to resign just after the November election?  No doubt his resignation prior to the election would raise questions about the Benghazi affair, which Obama clearly didn't want.  The report that Obama didn't know about the Petraeus affair until after he returned from Chicago on 8 November is ludicrous.  

The whole affair could have been kept secret, which was apparently the original intent.  But someone decided to inform the head of National Intelligence, James Clapper, who allegedly called Petraeus in November and told him to resign.  That resignation made the story public..  Who did that?  Well, another report indicates that John Brennan, the Deputy National Security Adviser for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, knew about the affair between Petraeus and Broadwell as far back as summer of 2011.  Brennan allegedly coveted the Director of Central Intelligence Agency job back in 2008 but was disappointed not to get it. 

Brennan was CEO of The Analytic Corporation when one of his employees farmed out to the State Department was caught trying to look at Barack Obama's passport.  Some believe that the employee was either trying to get information on Obama that could be used as leverage over him, or was substituting a sanitized passport.  Either way, that may have been enough to get Brennan a job in the Obama administration. 

In any case, as a matter of conjecture, it appears that if Brennan knew about Petraeus and Broadwell, he just bided his time.  When the Petraeus affair became known to the FBI and then Obama, it was Brennan's opportunity to force Petraeus out so that he could become CIA Director.  At the end of the FBI investigation, Brennan probably went to Obama and told him Petraeus was damaged goods and had to go or he would leak the information that the affair starting in Afghanistan.  

My assessment is that Petraeus was told he would have to resign probably in late October after the FBI had interviewed both Petraeus and Broadwell.  But Petraeus was also told that he would have to wait until after the election so that the subject of Benghazi would not become an election issue.  In return, Petraeus was probably told that he would not be prosecuted for having an adulterous affair while on active duty.  And if he was subpoenaed to testify even after he resigned, he would have to stick to his previous story. 

Having lost all leverage against Petraeus, the former general did the honorable thing and told his version of what really happened to Congress when he was called to testify again before Congress.  It may be that Obama didn't think he would testify.  Meanwhile, Brennan got what he wanted and was appointed head of the CIA.

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