CIA, State going to war over Benghazi?
posted at 12:25 pm on November 2, 2012 by Ed Morrissey
In my post earlier today, I suggested that the CIA and the State may both be at war with the White House over Benghazi. The Atlantic’s John Hudson thinks they may be at war with each other over it, too — and that David Petraeus is caught in the crossfire:
Cracks are beginning to show in the Obama administration’s united front on the Benghazi consulate as blame for security failures shifts between the State Department and the CIA. Last night, starting around 6 p.m., the CIA began circulating the most comprehensive timeline yet of its response to the September 11 attacktoreporters. The timeline showed that within 25 minutes of receiving calls for help, CIA operatives left their compound to assist the besieged consulate. But later on Thursday night, officials in the Obama administration leaked a series of damaging remarks about the CIA’s handling of Benghazi to The Wall Street Journal with a slew of grievances directed at CIA Director David Petraeus. The fast-developing story set in place a dispute over who’s responsible for the security failure, which remains unclear.
As with everything, the context here is key. According to TheJournal’s report, the security situation in Benghazi relied on a “symbiotic” relationship between the State Department and the CIA, in which the State Department in Benghazi served as a front for CIA activities while the CIA provided backup security. But on the night of Sept. 11, it became clear that the arrangement was flawed: “The CIA and State Department weren’t on the same page about their respective roles on security, underlining the rift between agencies over taking responsibility,” reports the Journal. But here’s where things get personal. According to officials speaking with the Journal, Petraeus’s response to the crisis was less than stellar …
As this inter-agency squabble plays out it’s impossible to say who’s more culpable. However, stepping back a bit, there seems to be a hole in last night’s State Department narrative that the CIA let down State officials in their time of need. It suggests that State had taken the necessary precautions to secure its officials, but the CIA never came through. But if that were the case, how come Amb. Chris Stevens and other State personnel continued to petition State for additional security in the run-up to the attack?
Be sure to read it all, but as I see it, the White House is the actual target of this war — and the two other players are responding to the shifting narratives coming from the Obama administration in their efforts to duck responsibility for the lack of preparation and response to this terrorist attack. That all but guarantees that the flood of leaks from both State and CIA will continue.