CIA denies Broadwell claim of "secret prison" in Benghazi annex

This seems like a pretty good reason to push the David Petraeus-Paula Broadwell affair from a boys-club peccadillo into a resignation-worthy event.  According to a transcript of a speech by Broadwell at the University of Denver the week before the election, Broadwell told an audience that the reason for the September 11 attack on the Benghazi consulate was neither a YouTube video nor a celebration of the anniversary of 9/11, but a prison escape for jihadis secretly held by the CIA in its nearby annex.

Late last night, the CIA denied this report of a secret prison in its now-abandoned Benghazi facility:

The Central Intelligence Agency denied charges Sunday that its annex in Benghazi, Libya secretly held a few jihadi prisoners until it was destroyed in the Sept. 11, 2012 attack. Paula Broadwell, the girlfriend then-CIA chief Gen. David Petraeus, made that claim during an Oct. 26 speech in Denver, Colo.

“I don’t know if a lot of you have heard this, but the CIA annex had actually had taken a couple of Libyan militia members prisoner. And they think that the attack on the consulate was an effort to try to get these prisoners back,” Broadwell declared during the speech, at the University of Denver.

“That’s still being vetted,” she added.

The CIA’s denial came just hours after Arutz Sheva, an Israeli news outlet, first published a partial transcript of Broadwell’s speech. By midnight Sunday, intelligence reporters with both The Daily Beast and The Washington Post were reporting and tweeting, respectively, that the CIA said her claim was false.

If it was still being vetted, as Broadwell claims, then how did she know about it?  Sources, apparently, and that certainly raises the question of whether her paramour either communicated or confirmed that to her.  Remember that, in the WSJ piece I linked earlier, the FBI conducted a second interview with Broadwell on November 2nd, the Thursday before the election, and seven days after that speech in Denver.

Broadwell’s allegation doesn’t make a lot of sense, though.  First, the terrorists knew where the CIA annex was; they attacked it with what appears to be a well-planned assault after they sacked the consulate.  Why not attack the annex first if that’s where the secret prison was, especially since the terrorists must have expected the consulate to get significant military support from the annex?  And why would the CIA hold anyone in Benghazi, where security had rapidly deteriorated over the preceding months?  Better to transport any detainees to Tripoli or out of the country entirely.  Of course, why would we have kept our consulate in Benghazi open under those circumstances, too, without enhancing security?

Either way, the speech might have forced the FBI and the DoJ into taking some action on Petraeus if they became aware of these allegations, and might have prompted a new investigation into Broadwell’s proximity to classified material.  If so, then the need for Petraeus to resign when he did becomes more clear.

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