• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Petraeus Debunks Petraeus Conspiracy Theories

Ever since David Petraeus resigned in the wake of a sex scandal that pretty much everyone seemed to find shocking, various people on the right have engaged in some pretty bizarre speculation in order to come up with a theory that somehow ties his resignation in with what happened in Benghzai on September 11th. Most immediately, the theory was that the Administration didn’t want Petraeus to testify, but as I noted at the time Petraeus’s resignation would not prevent Congress from issuing a subpoena compelling him to appear and give testimony regarding his personal knowledge regarding the incident, even though he would not be speaking for the CIA. The fact that Petraeus is now agreeing to testify voluntarily would seem to punch a very big hole in these theories, but it’s not stopping people like Fox News Legal Correspondent Andrew Napolitano from coming up with a conspiracy theory of his own:

We now know that the existence of a personal relationship between Broadwell and Petraeus had been suspected and whispered about by his senior-level colleagues and by his personal staff in the military, who worried that it might become publicly known, since before the time that he came to run the CIA.

We also know that when he was nominated to run the CIA, that nomination was preceded by a two-month FBI-conducted background check that likely would have revealed the existence of his relationship with Broadwell. The FBI agents conducting that background check surely would have seen his visitor logs while he commanded our troops and would have interviewed his military colleagues and regular visitors and those colleagues who knew him well and worked with him every day, and thus learned about his personal life. That’s their job.

And that information would have been reported immediately to President Obama and to the Senate Intelligence Committee, prior to Petraeus’ formal nomination and prior to his Senate confirmation hearing.

In the modern era, office-holders with forgiving spouses simply do not resign from powerful jobs because of a temporary, non-criminal, consensual adult sexual liaison, as the history of the FDR, Eisenhower, JFK, LBJ, and Clinton presidencies attest. So, why is Petraeus different? Someone wants to silence him.

Petraeus told the Senate and House Intelligence Committees on September 14, 2012, that the mob attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, three days earlier, was a spontaneous reaction of Libyans angered over a YouTube clip some believed insulted the prophet Muhammad. He even referred to that assault—which resulted in the murders of four Americans, now all thought to have been CIA agents—as a “flash mob.” His scheduled secret testimony this week before the same congressional committees will produce a chastened, diminished Petraeus who will be confronted with a mountain of evidence contradicting his September testimony, perhaps exposing him to charges of perjury or lying to Congress and causing substantial embarrassment to the president.

It’s obvious that someone was out to silence Petraeus. Who could believe the government version of all this? The same government that wants us to believe that FBI agents innocently and accidentally discovered the Petraeus/Broadwell affair a few months ago and confronted Petraeus with his emails a few weeks ago is a cauldron of petty jealousies. From the time of its creation in 1947, the CIA has been a bitter rival of the FBI. The two agencies are both equipped with lethal force, they both often operate outside the law, and they are each seriously potent entities. Their rivalry was tempered by federal laws that until 2001 kept the CIA from operating in the U.S. and the FBI from operating outside the U.S.

Well, no Judge, it really isn’t so obvious. First of  all, we don’t know what General Petraeus is going to testify to when he appears before the Intelligence Committees, so the assertion that he’s going to contradict what the Obama Administration has been saying about the attack is mere supposition with nothing to support it. Second, while it does appear that the information that has been uncovered in the past eight weeks does indeed contradict what was initially stated about the attack in the days immediately after it, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re talking a perjury case here. It depends what intelligence was available to Petraeus back when he testified initially and what’s become available to him in the weeks after the attack. Finding out new information six or eight weeks after the fact isn’t perjury.

The second part of the conspiracy theory that makes no sense is the idea that the purpose was to silence Petraeus. If that was the case, then forcing him to resign from the CIA and making him a private citizen answerable to nobody was a pretty dumb way to go about doing it. If there really were something about the Benghazi story that the Administration was hiding, then it strikes me that Petraeus now has little if any incentive to keep it quiet, and little to fear if he did speak out. After all, what can they do to him now, especially now that his affair has been revealed and he’s left the CIA? If this was a plot to silence Petraeus is was woefully ill-conceived.

For his part, Petraeus is saying that Benghazi had nothing at all to do with his resignation from the CIA:

(CNN) – David Petraeus’ resignation was not linked to the September attack that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, and he never passed classified information to the woman he was having an affair with, the former CIA director told an HLN journalist.

Petraeus, in conversations with HLN’s Kyra Phillips, confirmed to her what his supporters have been saying about ongoing scandal.

“In our first conversation,” Phillips said Thursday, Petraeus “had told me he had engaged in something dishonorable. He sought to do the honorable thing in response — and that was to come forward. He was very clear that he screwed up terribly … even felt fortunate to have a wife who is far better than he deserves.”

Phillips, who knows Petraeus from several interviews, initially reached out to him to express shock at the news of the affair that derailed a highly decorated career in the military and CIA.

Among other things, Petraeus said he has not talked with Paula Broadwell, his biographer and woman he admitted an affair with, since the scandal broke..

“He insisted to me that he has never passed classified information to Paula Broadwell,” Phillips said. “He said this has nothing to do with Benghazi, and he wants to testify. He will testify.”

Petraeus is scheduled to testify Friday before the House Intelligence Committee, and a Senate aide confirmed that he also will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee that day.

The former CIA chief didn’t try to persuade his bosses to let him keep his job once he admitted the affair, and “has maintained to me all along this was a personal failing,” Phillips said.

So there you have it straight from the General.  Do you believe him, or do you believe the conspiracy theories?

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Geek, Esq. says:

    He’s just saying that because Obama is threatening to out his other, other, other secret scandal.

    Just ask Charles Krauthammer.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  2. mantis says:

    So there you have it straight from the General. Do you believe him, or do you believe the conspiracy theories?

    This just proves he is in on the conspiracy!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  3. Rob in CT says:

    Oh, suuuuure. Just what he WOULD say! WAKE UP SHEEPLE!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  4. Hal 10000 says:

    I’m amazed at the cognitive dissonance in the Right Wing Ecosphere: 1) David Petraeus is a real man, a man of principle, a tough as nails guy who should be President; 2) he instantly he caved to clumsy blackmail from the White House.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  5. john personna says:

    @Rob in CT:

    lol, my thought as well.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  6. Herb says:

    Do you believe him, or do you believe the conspiracy theories?

    Fox Mulder trusts no one….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. michael reynolds says:

    He’s talking to Kyra Phillips? Another very attractive 40-something woman? With a husband who is also in the medical field? (Neurobiologist not doctor.) Wolf Blitzer was too busy?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  8. Herb says:

    @michael reynolds:

    ” With a husband who is also in the medical field? “

    I thought she was married to John Roberts, the Canadian former VJ who now works at Fox News…..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. Herb says:

    Okay….maybe not married, but definitely making babies.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. Dr John says:

    It’s amazing to me how much attention this is getting when the murder of four Americans has been basically ignored. WAKE UP!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 11

  11. michael reynolds says:

    @Dr John:

    For the last time: no one ignored the murder of four Americans.

    But if I may: we ignore the deaths of men in Afghanistan every goddamned week. We also ignore the deaths of people accidentally killed in drone strikes. And we ignore the deaths of Americans who die from treatable diseases they can’t afford to have treated.

    So spare me the mawkish concern for these four. These four are an obsession on the Right not because of the deaths per se but solely for use as a political weapon. Do not pretend to some moral superiority when what you are doing is exploiting these deaths for political purposes.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 0

  12. @Dr John:

    It’s amazing to me how much attention this is getting when the murder of four Americans has been basically ignored. WAKE UP!

    Really! Indeed, it has been so ignored that no one knows what you are referring to. What dead Americans?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  13. (Also, I have never in all my days ever seen the press pay attention to sex. This has to be some kind of press manipulation at the highest levels. We truly do need to WAKE UP!)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  14. michael reynolds says:

    @Herb:

    Well, I get all my TV anchor relationship data from The Google. No idea if any of it’s true.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. DRE says:

    This is clearly a case of Obama hatred blinding right wing types to the obvious reason for lack of clarity on the Benghazi situation, a reason which should meet with their complete approval. Nobody wants to publicly detail the extent and nature of CIA operations in Libya. The last thing anyone in the Administration would want at this point is another reason for people to be talking about the CIA.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. JKB says:

    I find it amusing that people belief this was a secret affair. Patraeus has had 24/7 security as D/CIA, plus a staff that knows everything. The D/CIA doesn’t go “missing” for a few hours. He’s not the governor of, what was it, South Carolina? On the other hand, the personal security types are trained not to notice anything that isn’t a physical threat to the protectee.

    Of course, the blackmail angle only works if it was the threat of exposure and Patraeus nuked that when we stepped up to the microphone. That doesn’t mean his testimony will blow up the administration’s spin. Just that he chose not to go down that hole by making their control stronger by going along.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  17. Herb says:

    @michael reynolds: What’s the Google? Do they know about the dead Americans?

    (I gotta watch CNN 40 hours a week…been doing it for years. The Weather Channel too…. Occupational hazards. But that accounts for my knowledge of the comings and goings of TV anchors.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. Rafer Janders says:

    @Dr John:

    It’s amazing to me how much attention this is getting when the murder of four Americans has been basically ignored. WAKE UP!

    What? Murder? Four Americans? That’s terrible! When did this happen, since I’ve heard nothing about it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  19. Rafer Janders says:

    @JKB:

    I find it amusing that people belief this was a secret affair.

    By definition, all affairs are secret. No on has a public affair.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  20. wr says:

    @JKB: What the hell are you talking about? Even in comparison with your usual gibberish this is nonsensical. The administration was blackmailing him to stay silent on Benghazi, he refused to give in to blackmail but won’t tell the truth anyway?

    Doesn’t it hurt to force yourself to type things you know are completely moronic?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  21. michael reynolds says:

    @wr:

    No, no, I think you’re being too harsh. It works if you know that the Shirtless FBI agent is secretly. . . General David Petraeus. It’s a Bruce Wayne/Batman thing. Shirtless Petraeus launched an investigation into himself in order to out his own affair and thus render himself invulnerable to White House blackmail, which he will now nevertheless succumb to in his testimony before Congress.

    Can you disprove any of this? Well, can you? Huh? Huh?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  22. michael reynolds says:

    @Herb:

    I gotta watch CNN 40 hours a week

    You poor bastard. There should be a medal for enduring that much Blitzer.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  23. sam says:

    Petraeus told the Senate and House Intelligence Committees on September 14, 2012, that the mob attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, three days earlier, was a spontaneous reaction of Libyans angered over a YouTube clip some believed insulted the prophet Muhammad.

    What!! And Don Quixote McCain and his sidekick Sancho Panza Graham aren’t on his case?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  24. Speaking of conspiracies, I think the Georgia GOP just took the prize for “Most Insane Explanation of Why Republicans Lost the Election”:

    Georgia GOP Lawmakers Host Briefing On Secret Obama Mind-Control Plot

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  25. stonetools says:

    So there you have it straight from the General. Do you believe him, or do you believe the conspiracy theories?

    Well, the answer to that is obvious , for ” We create our own reality” Republicans. I don’t expect this to slow down McCain, Graham, and Issa one iota, much less Beck and Limbaugh.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  26. This crazy idea has been on web sites of various political stripes. But it flies in the face of everything else the Right says about Obama. If Obama is the true-bred Chicago politician that the Right keeps saying he is, then he would know just as well as Don Corleone (okay, no real difference) that when you have your hands around the throat of a potential rival or whistle blower, you don’t squeeze so hard he has nothing left to lose, but you don’t let go, either. You leave him on your leash, always under your thumb (I’ve just set a record for mixing metaphors).

    So the administration says to D.P., “Say what we want you to say about Benghazi or we’ll disgrace you publicly over your still-secret affair”? And then they do that anyway because DP was about to testify to Congress? When ridding themselves of “this troublesome priest” can’t stop him from testifying anyway?

    Some master manipulator Obama is turning out to be…

    For the record, I was debunking this notion early this week.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  27. Well, Barry, how did your master plan work out for you?
    Petraeus To Testify He Knew Libya Was Terrorism ‘Almost Immediately’

    Not too good, I’d say.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. mattb says:

    @Donald Sensing:

    Some master manipulator Obama is turning out to be…

    But you forget Donald, that according to his detractors, at one Obama is a master manipulator and an “affirmative action” president, an empty suit always in well above his head and lost without his teleprompter.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0