The Wall Street Journal reports today that there was serious friction between General David Petraeus and the Obama administration over the Benghazi tragedy. Petraeus wanted to release information defending the CIA after the Obama administration began to point fingers once their “it was a YouTube video” narrative collapsed.
The Obama administration didn’t like that so much.
In David Petraeus’s final days at the helm of the Central Intelligence Agency, his relations with chiefs of other U.S. agencies, including his boss, National Intelligence Director James Clapper, took a contentious turn.
At issue was whether the CIA should break its silence about its role in Benghazi, Libya, to counter criticism that increasingly was being leveled at the agency and Mr. Petraeus, said senior officials involved in the discussions.
Mr. Petraeus wanted his aides to push back hard and release their own timeline of the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi and a nearby CIA safe house, seeking to set the record straight and paint the CIA’s role in a more favorable light. Mr. Clapper and agencies including the Pentagon objected, but Mr. Petraeus told his aides to proceed, said the senior officials.
By all accounts, the driving force behind Mr. Petraeus’s departure last Friday was the revelation about his extramarital affair with his biographer. But new details about Mr. Petraeus’s last days at the CIA show the extent to which the Benghazi attacks created a climate of interagency finger-pointing. That undercut the retired four-star general’s backing within the Obama administration as he struggled with the decision to resign.
So the question, as Charles Krauthammer noted yesterday, is what role Petraeus’ affair had to play in this squabble.
The Obama administration claims they didn’t know a thing about the affair before the election, which is hard to believe. The President of the United States didn’t know his CIA director was under investigation for sharing classified information with his mistress?
I’m not buying that bridge.
Petraeus will be testifying before Congress, and what he has to say (though the public isn’t immediately privy to it) will be interesting. Will he stick to his original testimony? Or will he explain, perhaps, how he came to originally support the Obama administration’s narrative about the attack being a spontaneous protest inspired by an internet video clip?