Accuracy in Media

The news media are continuing to try to protect the Obama administration from a rapidly growing scandal. A November 13th article in The Washington Post by Scott Wilson argued that Obama “has been untouched  by the unfolding investigation involving former CIA director David Petraeus,” a view that belongs on the opinion page under the heading, “wishful thinking,” not on the news pages.

The stunning news from November 9th that CIA Director David Petraeus had resigned over an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, a former Army intelligence officer and a former lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve, has become the source of numerous theories and psychological questioning of what makes powerful people tick. But it is actually proving to be a second shot at what should have been treated as a major Obama administration scandal prior to the November 6th election, the situation surrounding the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya on September 11 this year, as I argued in a column last week.

Why, in light of two previous attacks this year on our consulate in Benghazi, did we keep it open, and not provide the added security that Ambassador Chris Stevens pleaded for? Why, knowing that he was on an al-Qaeda hit list, was our consulate not better protected, especially in light of a secret August 16th cable he sent to Hillary Clinton’s office at the State Department pointing out that there were “approximately ten Islamist militias and AQ training camps within Benghazi?” Why did the administration for weeks try to argue that this was the result of a spontaneous demonstration that got out of hand, which was, as Susan Rice called it, a copy-cat demonstration of the one earlier in the day in Egypt, supposedly over a little seen anti-Muslim video trailer made in the U.S.?

The bar for what is considered a scandal was cited in an Atlantic Wire article last year, as being when the word “scandal” is on the front page of The Washington Post. In the case of Obama, according to this definition, even Operation Fast & Furious and Solyndra didn’t qualify as scandals.

The Post’s Scott Wilson wrote that the Petraeus “scandal hinges on a personal relationship beyond the White House and has not implicated the president or his closest advisers.” That is where Wilson, the Post and most of the media have missed the big picture.

The Post reported on the front page on November 13th that Petraeus had planned to continue in his job as CIA director if his affair with Broadwell did not go public, and he was apparently led to believe it would not go public.

Charles Krauthammer, a columnist for the Post, in his role as a Fox News analyst, saw that information as being very revealing: “It meant that he understood that the FBI obviously knew what was going on…and that he understood that his job, his reputation, his legacy, his whole celebrated life was in the hands of the administration, and he expected they would protect him by keeping it quiet.”

Krauthammer continued: “And that brings us to the ultimate issue, and that is his testimony on September 13. That’s the thing that connects the two scandals, and that’s the only thing that makes the sex scandal relevant. Otherwise it would be an exercise in sensationalism and voyeurism and nothing else. The reason it’s important is here’s a man who knows the administration holds his fate in its hands, and he gives testimony completely at variance with what the Secretary of Defense had said the day before, at variance with what he’d heard from his station chief in Tripoli, and with everything that we had heard. Was he influenced by the fact that he knew his fate was held by people within the administration at that time?”

Now that the Petraeus adultery scandal has emerged, it is bringing all these issues to the forefront, with an emboldened Republican Party that doesn’t believe the President when he says he knew nothing about the Petraeus affair until the day after the election. It’s not just Republicans, as many in the media are just as incredulous. Ron Kessler, for example, a former reporter for The Washington Post, now with Newsmax, wrote the day following Petraeus’s resignation, “FBI agents on the case expected that Petraeus would be asked to resign immediately rather than risk the possibility that he could be blackmailed to give intelligence secrets to foreign intelligence agencies or criminals. In addition, his pursuit of the woman could have distracted him as the CIA was giving Congress reports on the attack on the Benghazi consulate on Sept. 11.”

Kessler has written several books on the FBI, the CIA and the Secret Service, and is known to have excellent sources inside the FBI. He added that “FBI agents on the case were aware that such a decision had been made to hold off on forcing him out until after the election and were outraged.”

It is just not believable that Attorney General Eric Holder knew about the affair and the investigation in late summer, and the FBI knew about it at least since May, yet the President was kept in the dark that his CIA director was under investigation. If that is what happened, then heads should roll for incompetence, and leaving the head of the CIA in a vulnerable position while the President of the United States was unaware.

Holder finally offered an explanation publicly on November 15th. He said the Justice Department does “not share outside the Justice Department, outside the FBI, the facts of ongoing investigations.” He said he “made the determination as we were going through that there was not a threat to national security.” As the Post reported, “Because of that conclusion there was no reason to advise officials outside the department before the investigation was complete.”

Apparently he felt it was finally complete enough to go to the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper Jr. on late afternoon of Election Day. Clapper then told the President the following day. But then how is it that it was only this week, on November 12th, that the FBI went to Ms. Broadwell’s home to search her computer for classified materials? It is those sorts of questions that make it implausible that an investigation to figure out if this posed a national security threat would not have been brought to the attention of the President.

Today, Petraeus went before the House and Senate Intelligence committees to clarify how the message of what the administration knew and when they knew it became so tangled. The issue was attempting to square what he was said to have told Congress back on September 13th with what is now known to be the case. Back then, it was reported that Petraeus said the attack on the consulate resulted from a demonstration, akin to a “flashmob,” sparked by the anti-Islam video, and not a planned terrorist act.

Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said that Petraeus claimed that he had said early on that the attack on the consulate was a result of terrorism. But King seemed puzzled, saying that he remembered Petraeus playing down the role of an al-Qaeda affiliate during his September 13th testimony.

According to Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV) of the House Intelligence Committee, who attended Petraeus’s September 13 appearance and today’s, the initial talking points that the CIA released went through an editing process before being given to UN Ambassador Susan Rice, who addressed the media on the Sunday following the attack. Heck said they didn’t know for sure who edited the talking points, but President Obama said at his press conference on Wednesday that Rice “made an appearance at the request of the White House in which she gave her best understanding of the intelligence that had been provided to her. If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me. And I’m happy to have that discussion with them. But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador, who had nothing to do with Benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received, and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous.”

In other words, President Obama was taking the credit for whatever “presentation” Rice made during her talk show appearances. Rep. Heck told Fox News, “The initial talking points, which were put together in an unclassified format at the request of the House Intelligence Committee initially did state that al-Qaeda affiliated groups were involved, however, we understand that by the time it went through its editing process after it left Langley (CIA), that reference was taken out.” He added that Petraeus made clear and emphasized this morning that “the initial intelligence reporting which stated that the incident grew out of a spontaneous demonstration or protest was proven to be false. There was no protest outside the gates prior to the attack starting. And that became apparent after the interviews of individuals that were at the compound as well as after being able to view the surveillance videotape of the embassy outpost.”

Was Petraeus changing his story and no longer parroting the White House’s line? That remained unclear, but it certainly appears that he changed his tune. Another oddity was the timing of an announcement by the CIA on Thursday, the day before Petraeus would be talking to the committees for the first time since his resignation, that the CIA inspector general would be conducting an investigation into his conduct. Another warning to toe the party line?

On that same day, Andrea Mitchell raised the question of Petraeus’s responsibility in an interview with Democratic Senator Kent Conrad. “What is David Petraeus’s responsibility for this?” asked Mitchell. “There is some suggestion that General Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, was already concerned that the CIA was putting out its defense without checking with other agencies for the way Benghazi was handled. And also that the White House is not happy with the CIA for giving talking points to Susan Rice that got her into this political difficulty on the Sunday morning talk shows. Do you think the agency should bear some responsibility or is this scapegoating after the fact?” Even Sen. Conrad was amused by Mitchell’s spin.

It remains to be seen how this plays out. Republicans are calling for a Watergate-type select committee, meaning that instead of Armed Services, Intelligence and Homeland Security each holding separate hearings, there would be one committee with members from each of those committees represented. Also, the lead would come from the House, rather than the Senate, which would leave the Republicans in charge to determine the witnesses and schedule, rather than having Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid once again running interference for the Obama White House.

This is not what President Obama had in mind for his second term in office.

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  • Anne_PA

    “Was Petraeus changing his story and no longer parroting the White House’s line?”

    No doubt Obozo is kicking himself for accepting Petraeus’ resignation.

    So long as Petraeus is no longer head of the CIA, he no longer had to march to the White House orders.

    As always. the TRUTH will set you FREE.

  • Aaron Burr

    “Is Petraeus Scandal an Obama Scandal?” No. Petraeus was humping some chick. Obama got 4 Americans murdered in Benghazi. Wake up.

  • spartacus

    this admin. is so “CORRUPT” and no one calls them on it ! , who in their right mind thinks this “CESSPOOL” of a nation is not on the fast tract to imploding ! , voter fraud ! , killing our own citizens ! , the corrupt media, fraud and corruption in washington , on both sides !!! , etc. etc. etc. !!! ” SODOM AND GOMORRAH” the sequel ! a president who condones abortion , infanticide , homosexuality ! , breaking the law whenever he chooses!!! , pissing away taxpayers money! , rewarding illegal ‘s giving money to our enemies! and the list goes on and on one in the government does nothing about it !!! who in their right mind would think that the “GOD” who gave us this blessing would bless this “CESSPOOL” any longer !!!

  • Conservator1

    The Post, like MSNBC, were part of Team Obama’s reelection campaign. It would be akin to defamation to their readers if they used the word scandal in connection to Obama. Below is an article from The Post yesterday on the Petraeus hearings.

    Petraeus testifies that Benghazi attack was terrorist act, lawmaker says

    “…Feinstein also rose to Rice’s defense, saying that the ambassador was using talking points based on the best available intelligence just days after the attack.

    “They were unclassified talking points at a very early stage,” Feinstein said. “I don’t think she should be pilloried for this. She did what I would have done, or anyone else would have done that was going on a weekend show. We would have said, ‘What talking points can I use?’ and you’d get an unclassified version…”
    So it would appear the the Democratic Chairwoman, Diane Feinstein, was more interested in protecting Rice and Obama than learning the truth.

    Was this really the best available intelligence 5 days after the terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya? How can anyone come to that conclusion based on the plethora of news reports that the administration knew within 24 hours that there was NO spontaneous protest?

    If Rice is not to blame, then who gave her “talking points” about the spontaneous protest on the anti-Muslim video?

    The original talking points were much more specific about al Qaeda and its affiliates involvement, but the final one used by Rice replaced al Qaeda with extremists. Rice was deployed by the White House to appear on every major Sunday morning news program. She was a good soldier pushing that the violence grew out of “spontaneous protests” on the anti-Muslim video.

    Well if Rice shouldn’t be “pilloried for this” as Feinstein stated, then who should? Obviously it came from Obama’s White House. Also, we must not forget that Obama used his speech to the UN general assembly to make the same faux point regarding the video a week after Rice’s comments.

    “…And that is what we saw play out in the last two weeks, where a crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world. Now, I have made it clear that the United States government had nothing to do with this video, and I believe its message must be rejected by all who respect our common humanity. It is an insult not only to Muslims, but to America as well…”

    Obama went on to state, “Al Qaida has been weakened and Osama bin Laden is no more.”

    President Obama’s 2012 address to U.N. General Assembly (Full text)

    Why was there a need for the cover-up? The answer is simple; it disproved an important part of Obama’s reelection narrative Osama. may be no more, but Al Qaida is NOT on the run as Obama would have had us believe.

  • frankensteingovernment

    Total BS. Obama knew everything about Petraeus and Benghazi. He just didn’t want a “Jimmy Carter Eagle Claw” debacle just prior to the election. So he let them die. It’s as simple as that. Then he tried to cover it up with that BS about a riot being brought about because of islam vids. This President is the crown prince of liars.

  • RIP to the brave Americans, our Benghazi FOUR, who perished, as our president BO watched LIVE as they were fighting for their very lives, requested military back up that was minutes away, yet president BO REFUSED, and told the military to ‘stand down’ TWICE. Clearly, deliberately, prez BO threw American lives under the bus to DIE. Hence, as responsible Americans ourselves, we must continue to raise a big stink about Benghazi Gate until we get all the truth and justice, so that those responsible will be arrested, prosecuted and punished accordingly. We must Not let these men die in vain.

  • ali3nation

    What is scandalous to me is that the origin of the entire fiasco resulted from SOMEONE sending the Ambassador to Benghazi, an uncontrolled, insecure location, on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, supposedly to meet with a Turkish agent or ” diplomat ” for dinner. What the substance of the meeting concerned has never been clarified, nor has anyone anywhere addressed the need to place the Ambassador in Benghazi on such a dangerous day. There have been suggestions that it was a kidnap and trade for the blind sheikh plan, and there have been others that have offered that it was some sort of gun running, arms deal to get weapons to the Syrian rebels, and even the hiring of jihadist fighters to fight with the rebels in Syria. No matter what the reason, the meeting took place, the Turk left the compound and passed through the check points set up by the eventual attackers and never even tried to communicate back to the Ambassador that something seemed to be wrong. So, in my opinion, all of the questioning of Petraeus and others as to whether they used the term extremists or whether they called them al quaida or an affiliate of them, versus the excuse that it was the nasty video are all moot. It is clear that the White House had a strong motive, just before the election to try to make it sound like anything but terrorism, anything but al quaida, since Obama was pushing the Osama is dead, al quaida has no head party line. Now, after the election, all of a sudden, Petraeus gets caught with pants down, the media jumps on a SEX pentangle and then he admits, behind closed doors that he knew it was al quaida all along and that somebody changed the terminology. As far as the White House goes, they could care less now that the election was over and won, and it doesn’t matter so much if people realize that it was an act of terror and we can even name al quaida because they aren’t worried about the election any more. And lo and behold, Petraeus comes clean, probably according to plan. Why because, we the people are now hypnotically focused on the shiny sex affair and the revelation that it was really terrorism and that they are INVESTIGATING in the Senate and House committees, Another key player who has not even appeared in this hemisphere is Hillary who will have something to say in December maybe. And of course Susan Rice said all those lies 5 times on Sunday and she therefore should not be Secretary of State ( which would be a disaster ). Now, back at the ranch, or rather Benghazi, everyone, and I mean EVERYONE has completely stopped asking or investigating what on earth AMBASSADOR STEVENS was doing in Benghazi on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, where the Brits, the Red Cross, NATO and the French had abandoned a week or so earlier.The Ambassador had no known security detail in the most dangerous city for an American to be at that time in the whole world. This to me is the crux, the key the true centerpiece of the debacle. But skillfully, the White House, State,CIA, FOX, MSM, Congress, the Sexcapades, have all managed to distract even the most intent followers of this matter from what really counts. Again for the record, what really is SCREAMING out for an answer: WHO told STEVENS to go to Benghazi on that day and for what possible reason. Is anybody out there???????

  • ali3nation

    But after all you said, don’t you want to know WHO sent STEVENS to Benghazi,and why, on the ELEVENTH ANNIVERSARY of 9/11, possibly the most dangerous place he could possibly go to meet an obscure Turk for dinner and a conversation the contents of which are completely unknown to anyone as far as I can ascertain. The rest is pure distraction, designed to divert the attention of people who would otherwise be asking the WHO sent him AND WHY. I really am looking for everyones opinion on this because I for one have not yet heard a single word in the press or in the blogs or anywhere about this issue which I see as crucial.

  • Conservator1

    Based on what I have read, you’re correct that no one has focus on why Ambassador Stevens was in Benghazi on the 11th anniversary of 9/11/01. I’ve seen some pundits suggest that it was his decision to be there on that tragic night, but that’s not proof. But I don’t believe this is as important as you imply. Please reread the article because it presents all the important questions surrounding the investigation into Benghazi.

    Also, since the article’s opening paragraph highlighted an article published by The Washington Post, my comment focus on why the word “scandal in connection to Obama” would never be an important line of inquiry by The Post or its readers.

    However, I strongly disagree with you when you state, “The rest is pure distraction.” The so-call distraction you speak of is in fact the only information that’s needed to explain why Obama was still sticking to the same faux talking points that Rice used about a spontaneous protest of the anti-Muslim video when he spoke at the UN a week later.

    Lastly, I did recommend your post about 11 hours ago. I don’t care about Petraeus’s affair and I agree that the MSM has jumped on this unimportant story because it brings in big bucks via advertising – SEX SELLS.

    The only thing that would get me interested in Petraeus’s affair is if Charles Krauthammer speculation that the White House used it leveraged on the former CIA Director to influence his inteligence briefing to Congress about the terrorist attack in Libya.

    Now I’ve written a book in response to your reply. I guess I can’t help myself.

  • John

    So.. Rice… An Ambassador to the UN… reinterpreted intelligence reports (aka her best understanding)? Went on National TV to explain what happened and should have been SOS?

    “Hi I’m Present Obama… I have no idea what is happening anywhere in my Administration… knowing anything is not an issue I am required to know anything about… at any time..”

  • honigs