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:
Petraeus resignation.Timing, everything suspicious.There has to be more to this story.
— Rupert Murdoch(@rupertmurdoch) November 9, 2012
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.”
“I dealt with scores of incidents and military operations over 30 years in the Pentagon, State Department and White House,” Clarke wrote in the New York Daily News. “I never saw a case where there was initial and accurate clarity about what happened.”
A State Department investigation into the affair, led by the well-regarded diplomat Thomas Pickering, is ongoing. But the right is demanding answers now, imagining some crime that will distract President Obama’s second term.
Breitbart.com is reporting that Paula Broadwell may have illuminated why there is so much secrecy around the events in Libya while giving a talk at her alma mater, the University of Denver. Allegedly Broadwell said, “Libyan terrorists may have attacked the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 in order to take back Libyan militia members the CIA Annex had taken prisoner.”
If there was a secret prison in Benghazi, this would be counter to the January 2009 executive order in which President Obama ordered such American prisons on foreign soil closed. However, this is a report from the notorious Breitbart.com—famous for the Shirley Sherrod video and the edited ACORN pimp tapes—that has not been confirmed anywhere else.
For those on the left, Petraeus’ rapid and unexpected demise presents an opportunity to re-examine the myth of the general who plotted and executed “surge” strategies in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“More so than any other leading military figure, Petraeus’ entire philosophy has been based on hiding the truth, on deception, on building a false image,” Michael Hastings wrote on Buzzfeed.
For Hastings, Petraeus’ undoing is predictable and tied to a comeuppance to the generals whose “years of foreign misadventure, where we tortured and supported torture, armed death squads, conducted nightly assassinations, killed innocents, and enabled corruption on an unbelievable scale, lie in tatters.”
Petraeus’ willingness to serve under President Obama along with President Bush’s Secretary of State Robert Gates gave a consistency to Pentagon that cheered the establishment and frightened some liberals.
Republicans often saw General Petraeus as a great white hope. President Obama reportedly joked that Mitt Romney wanted the general as a running mate. Fox News often suggested that someday the Petraeus name would be on a national ticket with an R next to it.
It wasn’t meant to be. So for Republicans, this is just another piece in the puzzle, another “Caliphate clue” that helps them put together another conspiracy that only makes sense to people who think Fox News is news.