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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus sent shockwaves throughout the country Friday. Some want to take this chance to re-examine the general’s legacy, while many on the right want to connect the surprising development to their scandal du jour — the tragic attacks on an American outpost in Benghazi, Libya.

Petraeus was scheduled to testify about Benghazi on Tuesday, a fact The Drudge Report immediately cited on Friday when the general announced his resignation and admitted to an extramarital affair.

The implication was, of course, that this must be part of an administration cover-up. Republican talker Laura Ingraham tweeted, “COINCIDENCE?” Then Rupert Murdoch, the CEO of News Corp, which owns Fox News, added:

So why didn’t it come out before the election? Republicans demand to know!

They should ask Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

Cantor’s spokesman told CNN that the congressman was tipped off about Petraeus’ affair on October 31 by an FBI employee who was concerned about the national security implications. This was a week before Petraeus informed Director of National Intelligence James Clapper about the affair and was advised to resign.

The investigation reportedly began after the FBI received a tip that Petraeus’ mistress and biographer Paula Broadwell had been sending threatening emails to another woman close to the general.

Republicans aimed to use Benghazi as a way to carve into President Obama’s advantage over Mitt Romney on foreign policy. Mitt Romney politicized the attack the night it occurred by criticizing messages sent out by the American embassy in Cairo before the embassy was stormed and American Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were murdered.

Much of the information surrounding the attack is still classified but the GOP’s criticism stems from confusion about whether the events in Benghazi on September 11 were linked to protests in Cairo and much of the Arab world sparked by a YouTube video that smeared the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Though the president responded to the attack on September 12 as an act of terror, the State Department linked it to the spontaneous protests based on information from the CIA.

Former terrorism advisor to presidents Bush and Clinton, Richard Clarke called the GOP’s politicization of the tragedy in Benghazi “just shameful.”