In the original Oct. 26 Fox News report, sources at the annex said that the CIA’s Global Response Staff had handed over three Libyan militia members to the Libyan authorities who came to rescue the 30 Americans in the early hours of Sept. 12.
A well-placed Washington source confirms to Fox News that there were Libyan militiamen being held at the CIA annex in Benghazi and that their presence was being looked at as a possible motive for the staged attack on the consulate and annex that night.
According to multiple intelligence sources who have served in Benghazi, there were more than just Libyan militia members who were held and interrogated by CIA contractors at the CIA annex in the days prior to the attack. Other prisoners from additional countries in Africa and the Middle East were brought to this location.
The Libya annex was the largest CIA station in North Africa, and two weeks prior to the attack, the CIA was preparing to shut it down. Most prisoners, according to British and American intelligence sources, had been moved two weeks earlier.
Two separate questions here. One: Is the CIA still operating secret prisons and, if so, how are they questioning their prisoners? Enhanced interrogation is the only part of the Bush counterterror playbook that O hasn’t adopted, or so we’ve assumed. We’ll see. Two: Did Ansar al-Sharia and its partners in jihad find out about the prisoners and attack the annex on 9/11 to try to free them? I’m thinking … probably not, for the reasons Ed gave this morning. If they thought there were prisoners at the annex, why’d they attack the consulate first and give up the advantage of surprise? The attack on the consulate wasn’t a diversion, either: According to the CIA’s timeline, the first attack at the annex didn’t happen until 11:56 p.m., more than two hours after the consulate attack had begun and after the CIA security team had already returned from the consulate to the annex. That makes it sound like the jihadis tailed the CIA’s people back to the annex; if they were planning an ambush to free prisoners, they should have had people pre-positioned there to move in as soon as they saw the CIA security team leave for the consulate earlier in the evening. And again, per Ed, if you were going to hold prisoners somewhere in the Middle East, why on earth would you choose a city as unstable as Benghazi?
Besides, the timeline of the Petraeus/Broadwell affair is hard to square with the idea of her being privy to secret info about Benghazi. Quote:
The affair between Gen. Petraeus and Broadwell, both of whom are married, began several months after his retirement from the army in August 2011 and ended four months ago, retired U.S. Army Col. Steve Boylan, who is a former Petraeus spokesperson, told ABC News…
Petraeus is said to have been the one to have broken off the extramarital affair.
If — if — all of that is accurate, then it sounds like Petraeus dumped Broadwell sometime in July and, given what we now know about those threatening e-mails that she sent to another woman, she probably didn’t take the news all that well. In which case, why would he still be sharing secrets with her two months later, after the Benghazi attack? Was Broadwell really revealing classified info in her Denver speech or was she just misremembering a report from earlier that day on Fox News? She did, reportedly, have classified documents on her computer, but both she and Petraeus claimed they didn’t come from him. And in fact, because of her background in the military, Broadwell allegedly had “a top secret/SCI clearance and then some.” She might have had access to info about Benghazi, and classified documents about whatever, from her contacts in the national security bureaucracy, entirely independent of Petraeus.
But maybe that timeline isn’t accurate. Petraeus’s allies might be keen to claim that the affair didn’t start until after he’d left the military because adultery is an infraction of the UCMJ. If the affair began while he was still in uniform, it’s not only a moral failing but potentially a legal issue.
Now, help me answer three questions. First, why did the FBI pursue its investigation of the cyber-harassment of Jill Kelley all the way back to Petraeus? My understanding from reading a bunch of stories this morning is that Kelley reported the harassment, the FBI quickly launched an investigation (no one’s sure why it was such a priority for them but maybe it has to do with Kelley’s JSOC connection), and they traced the harassing e-mails back to Broadwell. But they didn’t stop there; evidently they started digging around to see who was e-mailing Broadwell too, and they traced that back to a pseudonymous Gmail account operated by Petraeus. Er … why did they do that? Once they knew who the cyber-harasser was, why was it necessary to keep digging and piece out the entire love triangle? They’d found their suspect.
Second, why is Jill Kelley suddenly hiring some very expensive attorneys? Not only hasn’t she been accused of anything — not even an affair with Petraeus — but Petraeus and Broadwell aren’t being charged with any crimes either. Second look at what Broadwell’s father told the Daily News this morning?
Third, I have a post up in the Greenroom noting that Petraeus and Broadwell seemed conspicuously “together” as early as 2010, with even Mrs. Petraeus likely becoming aware of it before last Friday. John Brennan, Obama’s White House counterterror czar, allegedly learned of the affair in summer 2011 — before Petraeus was named the new CIA chief. That being so, how were Obama and James Clapper supposedly kept in the dark until last week? The One should be spitting mad that he wasn’t kept fully informed about potential liabilities of one of the most sensitive hires he’ll make as president. In theory, Petraeus could have been blackmailed or hacked or otherwise compromised, with catastrophic consequences for national security and O’s presidential legacy — and yet the FBI kept things hush-hush, even from their boss, until just a few days ago. Why? Here’s Scarborough and Peter King wondering. Key bit at 4:00.