Here, you are urged and encouraged to run your mouths about something important.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Petraeus: Administration's knowledge of affair did not influence my testimony

The headlines that seem to be dominating the news relative to the closed-door testimony of former CIA Director David Petraeus in front of House and Senate Intelligence Committees was that someone changed the CIA's talking points before U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice recited them on five Sunday talk shows on September 16th. Petraeus reportedly told the committees that he knew the attack was coordinated and not the result of a spontaneous reaction to a video.

That is indeed significant but there is another aspect of Petraeus' testimony that warrants further investigation. When House Intelligence committee member, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) was asked if the extramarital affair Petraeus engaged in with biographer Paula Broadwell in any way influenced the former CIA Director's testimony on September 14th, King volunteered that Petraeus said that it did not.

Hopefully, the next question that was asked was:
Did you know at the time of your September 14th testimony that the administration knew about your extramarital affair?
If that question was asked, what was the answer?

Via MRC (at the 1:15 mark):

Lt. Col. Ralph Peters indicated on November 9th that he thought the administration likely held the affair over Petraeus' head, as did Charles Krauthammer on November 13th. If such a thing were true, it would constitute blackmail and be a much more serious infraction by the White House than altering the CIA talking points from September 14th by taking out any reference to al-Qaeda and putting in that line about the attack being caused by the anti-Muhammad video.

While it is a bit of a bombshell for Petraeus to admit that he knew the 9/11/12 attack was terrorism and not related to a video, he almost had to concede that ground based on what had come out so far. Not doing so would have opened up an entirely new can of worms.

Also take note of what King said in the above video when Petraeus allegedly insisted that he knew it was terrorism all along. King made reference to the fact that Petraeus clearly left a different impression during his September 14th testimony. Here is the opening of an ABC news report at the time:
The attack that killed four Americans in the Libyan consulate began as a spontaneous protest against the film “The Innocence of Muslims,” but Islamic militants who may have links to Al Qaeda used the opportunity to launch an attack, CIA Director David Petreaus told the House Intelligence Committee today according to one lawmaker who attended a closed-door briefing.

Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, the top Democrat on the House Intel committee, said Petraeus laid out “a chronological order exactly what we felt happened, how it happened, and where we’re going in the future.”

“In the Benghazi area, in the beginning we feel that it was spontaneous – the protest- because it went on for two or three hours, which is very relevant because if it was something that was planned, then they could have come and attacked right away,” Ruppersberger, D-Md., said following the hour-long briefing by Petraeus. “At this point it looks as if there was a spontaneous situation that occurred and that as a result of that, the extreme groups that were probably connected to al Qaeda took advantage of that situation and then the attack started.”
This is important because it looks like Petraeus wants to say he didn't say what he said. King made reference to that but doesn't underscore it enough. On September 14th, Petraeus seemed to allege that the attack began as a spontaneous reaction which drew in al-Qaeda elements. On November 16th, he seemed to say the attack was coordinated and planned in advance by al-Qaeda elements.

Let's go back to that October 26th speech by Paula Broadwell, Petraeus' mistress. In it, she said two things of import relative to the discrepancies between how Petraeus testified on September 14th and November 16th. First, at the 1:30 mark, Broadwell asserts that Petraeus knew what was going on within twenty-four hours of the attack in Benghazi and then says everyone thought that all of the protests were the result of the video.

So which is it? Did Petraeus know within 24 hours of the attack that it was an act of terrorism that had nothing to do with the video or did he think it was the result of the video? Inconsistencies between what he said on September 14th and November 16th absolutely exist. That is what makes this an issue of Petraeus' credibility.

That is why questions about the possibility that Petraeus' September 14th testimony being unduly influenced by an administration that knew of his extramarital affair should continue to be asked.

That would mean blackmail, which would be an impeachable offense. This debate about whether the talking points were changed, though important, pales by comparison.

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