Sunday, November 18, 2012
Former CIA head General David Petraeus testified behind closed doors before Congress Friday, and what he had to say not only differed from what he told Congress back on September 13, but it raised new questions about the Benghazi debacle.
Back on September 13th, General Petraeus pretty much parroted the Administration line that this was an out of control mob incensed by a YouTube video. At that time, as we now know, the Obama Administration had full knowledge of the General's extramarital affairs and it's not out of the realm of possibility at all that he was promised his indiscretions would not be trumpeted publicly in exchange for his cooperation.
As I mentioned previously, the General is not the first high ranking DC figure to have been caught with an inappropriate part of his anatomy caught in the cookie jar, but this kind of public outing is quite rare.
If it was done after he cooperated and the election was safely over, it could only have been done with the idea of totally discrediting anything he had to say about what really happened, which gives what he had to say Friday an added kick.Especially if he was given private assurances by Congress that no charges would be filed for perjury.
The General is now claiming that he and the CIA knew from the very beginning that Benghazi was a terrorist attack primarily staged by al-Qaeda militia Ansar al Sharia, and that he issued a memo containing talking points to that effect that somehow got changed after they were distributed to multiple departments, including the State Department, National Security Council, Justice Department and White House.
No one seems to know exactly how that happened, including Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Acting CIA Director Mike Morell, who were also questioned.
It's also leaked out now that the President was formally notified within 72 hours that this was a terrorist attack with al-Qaeda involvement.
He almost certainly knew this before then, because a drone was overhead and providing a live, real time feed shortly after the attack was reported, both the consulate and the CIA annex were in live phone contact with the White House and the president was personally briefed by SecDef Panetta at 5PM DC time.
Yet Ambassador Susan Rice, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, the president and White House spokesperson Jay Carney all pushed the narrative that this was a spontaneous protest over a video that just got out of hand:
Petraeus' testimony both challenges the Obama administration's repeated claims that the attack was a "spontaneous" protest over an anti-Islam video, and according to (Rep. Peter} King conflicts with his own briefing to lawmakers on Sept. 14. Sources have said Petraeus, in that briefing, also described the attack as a protest that spun out of control.
"His testimony today was that from the start, he had told us that this was a terrorist attack," King said, adding that he told Petraeus he had a "different recollection."
Still, the claim that the CIA's original talking points were changed is sure to stoke controversy on the Hill.
"The original talking points were much more specific about Al Qaeda involvement. And yet the final ones just said indications of extremists," King said, adding that the final version was the product of a vague "inter-agency process."
King said a CIA analyst specifically told lawmakers that the Al Qaeda affiliates line "was taken out."
A congressional source familiar with this week's testimony also told Fox News that the language in the CIA talking points about Benghazi was changed from "Al Qaeda-affiliated individuals to extremist organizations" -- which had the effect of minimizing the role of terrorists in the attack.
"It really changed the whole tone of it," King told Fox News.
The White House, of course is denying that anything was changed, and sticking to the new narrative that Susan Rice and other Administration figures were merely repeating info they were given 'based on the best assessments at that time'.
Which leaves us with this question: why, when President Obama knew within 72 hours (at the very latest, and almost certainly before then) that this was a terrorist attack did he and members of his administration continue to talk about a riot sparked by a video for over a week?
And if they really believed it was merely a riot, why not send in military assets we had readily available to rescue our people?
We had helicopter gunships within easy reach, and a unit of the Commander's In-extremis Force (CIF), a unit specifically designed for exactly these kinds of situations already deployed at our base in Sigonella, Sicily, less than a two-hour plane ride away.
There was even an ex-Navy SEAL with a laser sight in the CIA annex that was in live communication with the White House phoning in exact coordinates of targets.
Why weren't they sent, if the White House and this president really believed it was just a mob?
The obvious lies and outright misrepresentations to the American people about what did and did not happen in Benghazi r4esemble the way Fast and Furious was handled.
It remains to be seen whether either of these fiascos is going to be pursued in any meaningful way.