Monday, November 12, 2012

Petraeus resigns, and many questions remain

The story behind the resignation of CIA director David Petraeus is one of the more bizarre episodes in the Obama administration. The inclination of the general’s admirers on the right and of Obama supporters on the left will be to shove the entire sordid mess under the rug. But a series of important questions need to be answered. Squeamishness over a tawdry personal scandal should not obscure some serious issues.
The mainstream media, freed for its obligation to block and tackle for the president in the election, can redeem its dreadfully inadequate coverage of the Benghazi debacle by swiftly getting to the bottom of this.
Here are a few of the questions about the Petraeus resignation:
* Why did the FBI launch an all-out dragnet over e-mails from Paula Broadwell to Jill Kelly?
* Why did it take months for the FBI to realize this was about an affair, not corruption?
* Why was the White House and/or congressional members charged with national-security oversight not alerted before the election or were they? 
* Who else other than the FBI was aware that the CIA chief was under investigation?
* Why did Petraeus, when briefing Congress on Sept. 14, purportedly push the bogus cover story on Benghazi (i.e., it was about a spontaneous demonstration over the anti-Muslim video) when his agency had information within two hours that it was a terrorist attack?

* Why was Petraeus excused from testifying further about Benghazi?
* Why did Director of National Intelligence James Clapper urge Petraeus to resign?
* Was Petraeus involved in drafting the CIA talking points and/or in preparing U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice for her TV appearances on Sept. 16, during which she pushed the false notion that the Benghazi attack was over the anti-Muslim video?
* Why did Petraeus remain silent when politicians who perpetuated the false narrative for weeks blamed the intelligence community?
* Who is going to investigate Clapper, Petraeus, FBI chief Robert Mueller, Attorney General Eric Holder and possible White House involvement? Absent an agreement to waive executive and national security privileges for a congressional investigation, isn’t an independent prosecutor of some type needed?

Petraeus biography co-author may have revealed classified info in a speech

USA TODAY:  In October, Paula Broadwell, the woman at the center of the David Petraeus adultery case, spoke publicly about events surrounding the Benghazi attack that appeared to go beyond what was in the public record at the time.
Broadwell, co-author of a biography about Petraeus, was speaking at the University of Denver Oct. 26 and responded to questions about the attack on the U.S. Consulate that led to the death of four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya.
"Now I don't know if a lot of you 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. So that's still being vetted," she said.
Eli Lake, writing for The Daily Beastreported that it is possible that Broadwell was confusing details of a story on Fox News that day that claimed that three of the Libyan attackers were briefly held at a CIA annex in Benghazi, not the consulate, before being turned over to the local militia.
Lake also reported that the CIA on Sunday denied the claim that prisoners were held at the annex, which has not been reported elsewhere.
In her remarks, Broadwell also talked about Petraeus' involvement in the Benghazi situation as CIA director.
"The challenging thing for General Petraeus is that in his new position he is not allowed to communicate with the press," she told the audience. "So he's known all of this, they had correspondence with the CIA station chief in Libya. Within 24 hours they kind of knew what was happening."
The remarks are contained in a 40-minute speech by Broadwell, a West Point graduate and military officer, in which she discussed her military background, how she met Petraeus and elements of his personal life, such as his transition from military officer to director of the CIA.
Petraeus resigned on Friday, citing his "poor judgment" over the extramarital affair.

Israel pummels Syrian artillery

Israel's military says its tanks have scored "direct hits" on Syrian artillery units after Syrian mortar shells fell near an Israeli army post.
It comes a day after Israel fired warning shots after it said a Syrian shell hit another of its army posts on the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
The episode is the most serious between the two countries since the Arab-Israeli war of 1973.
Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war.
While the tank-fire is a significant development, it does not mean Israel is being dragged into Syria's civil war, says the BBC's Wyre Davies in Jerusalem.
In fact, he adds, Israeli political and military leaders say the tank-fire is exactly the opposite - a tough but clear message to Syria that Israel will not tolerate any more bullets and mortars landing in its territory.
After the recent incidents and concerns that Syria's conflict is spilling over to neighbouring countries, Israel has warned Syria that any additional shelling, whether deliberate or accidental, would elicit a tough response.
Israel has also filed a complaint with UN forces operating in the area of the Golan Heights. The area has been relatively peaceful over the past four decades despite Israel and Syria still officially being in a state of war.
Earlier, Western nations, Qatar and Turkey welcomed the creation of a new Syrian coalition that aims to unify opposition against President Bashar al-Assad.
The National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces was unveiled in Doha on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Syrian government jets and helicopters bombed the rebel-held town of Ras al-Ain, near the border with Turkey, sending civilians fleeing into the Turkish settlement of Ceylanpinar. Casualties were reported.
Observers and activists estimate that more than 36,000 people have been killed in the long-running uprising against President Assad.
Hundreds of thousands have sought refuge in neighbouring countries.


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