Thursday, November 15, 2012

David Petraeus Testimony Will Be Historic

By Mary Claire Kendall

There are two theories in Washington:

#1 David Petraeus was fired from the CIA.  

#2 David Petraeus was pressured to toe the line, with his affair dangling over his head, which was an open secret in Washington. Then, he said 'Enough! I won't be party to this charade any more. I'm going to tell my wife.' The next part is he's going to tell the Congress.

My reporting tells me it’s #2.


Hurricane David is about to hit Washington.  If you thought Sandy was bad, just wait. Well, that might be overstating the case. But make no mistake, Petraeus’ testimony, as Senator John Kerry is fond of saying will “change the dynamic.

Senator Diane Feinstein, Chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday, November 13: “It’s also my intention… to talk with General Petraeus, Director Petraeus. This ties in to his trip that he made just before all of this broke (i.e., his resignation putatively over the Paula Broadwell affair), to some Middle Eastern countries including Libya.”

After meeting with her Vice Chair, Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), “to go over the plan,” both then meeting with Acting CIA Director Mike Morell, she said, “We will proceed.” Her face during the interview showed she’s quite troubled by the whole Benghazi matter.

On Wednesday, however, the White House jauntily announced through spokesman Jay Carney that Morell would be testifying at the Benghazi hearings in lieu of Petraeus. Shortly thereafter, it was reported, in fact, Petraeus would be voluntarily testifying—before the Senate Intelligence Committee behind closed doors on Friday at 7:30 a.m. He will only address events leading up to the Benghazi massacre, not the Broadwell affair. (11/16 Update: He first testified before the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors at 7:30 a.m. Then, around 9:30 a.m., he headed for the Senate Intelligence Committee. Separately, after Petraeus volunteered to testify, it was announced that the CIA Inspector General had launched an investigation of the former Director, the New York Times reported late last night. 11/19 Update: Petraeus has hired super lawyer Bob Barnett to represent him.)

It’s a sure bet the committees will be greatly enlightened on events leading up to the deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, at the Benghazi consulate on 9/11, and the aftermath.  Also, General Petraeus will perhaps address who gave the “stand down” order and how he was pressured to keep silent.

Feinstein told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Monday the matter is “like peeling an onion.”  “One person tells me he has read (the Petraeus trip report). And then we try and get it and they tell me it hasn’t been done. That’s unacceptable.” She also said “I don’t know what took (the Administration) ten days, candidly” to figure out the Benghazi attack was terrorism and not a spontaneous demonstration over a video, given that RPGs and mortars were used. Senator John McCain, who’s made this point from day one, has called for a Watergate-style panel to investigate the attack. 

Let’s review some relevant recent history. 

On Thursday, October 25, we discovered that officials had watched the attack on real-time video, leaving America to wonder, what gives? Why didn’t they immediately call in military assets—including those the Libyan government had in their possession, many of which we provided to help in their fight to topple Muammar Gaddafi—to the tune of nearly one billion dollars?

Justin Raimondo reports that “Petraeus was only informed of the (FBI) investigation on October 25 or 26. 

Then, like clockwork, on Friday, October 26, on the presidential election eve, the effort to shift blame from State to CIA began accelerating.  Petraeus was being targeted big-time.  The discussion that day was all about who gave the “stand down” order. But, the CIA Director showed refreshing spine: “No one at any level in the CIA told anybody not to help those in need; claims to the contrary are simply inaccurate,” he said through his CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood. (On Friday, November 2, Petraeus released a timeline of the CIA response to the attack and resigned days later, the announcement made on Friday, November 9. Immediately preceding his resignation he traveled to Libya to found out exactly what happened on 9/11.)

The same day, President Obama twice refused to respond to Denver KUSA-TV reporter Kyle Clark’s question regarding whether the four Americans were denied help, asserting the investigation needs to play out first.

He even had the temerity to suggest “the election has nothing to do with four brave Americans getting killed and us wanting to find out exactly what happened.”  

But, Clark wasn’t satisfied, asking, “Were they denied requests for help during the attack?”

“Well,” the president reiterated, “we are finding out exactly what happened… as I’ve said (repeatedly)… the minute I found out what was happening, I gave three very clear directives. Number one, make sure that we are securing our personnel and doing whatever we need to. Number two, we’re going to investigate exactly what happened so that it doesn’t happen again. Number three, find out who did this so we can bring them to justice. And I guarantee you that everyone in the state department, our military, the CIA, you name it, had number one priority making sure that people were safe.”

Oh really?

Ironically, Obama screened Steven Spielberg’s film Lincoln tonight at the White House. As Abraham Lincoln famously said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.

Ambassador Stevens and the other three Americans might not have been rescued by the hapless Obama crowd.  But, something tells me, as with the Iraq Surge, it’s Petraeus to the rescue, and this won’t be his last. 


11/19 Postscript: As Joseph Curl writes in today’s Washington Times, “Friday’s testimony changed everything. Out there now is that the director of the CIA told whoever would listen that there was ‘al Qaeda involvement’ in the September 11 attack.”

Mary Claire Kendall is a Washington-based writer. She writes a regular column for, most recently "Doolittle's Raiders And The Miracle That Saved Them."

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