Three days after the attack on our embassy in Benghazi on 9/11, that resulted in the death of four Americans, General David Petraeus told the House Intelligence Committee that it had been a spontaneous uprising that began over a protest of film trailer for “The Innocences of Muslims”. Details here. We now know that was not true. We also know that the state department watched the attack in real time and they knew that it had nothing to do with a film. The time line for the attack is here. For two weeks the President continued to say that the attack was about the film, and not an Al Quada terrorist attack. This fit his election narrative that his administration had Al Quada on the run. He repeated it frequently. We didn’t need more forces anywhere, the administration had everything under control. From the timeline, we know that isn’t true. The President also knew it wasn’t true. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton knew it wasn’t true. Yesterday at his press conference the President said that Susan Rice went on 5 Sunday News programs after the 9/11 attack and repeated the story about the film causing a spontaneous uprising because that’s what she was told to say by the White House and the Intelligence community. The followup question should have been, “who told her to say that”? Who thought up this silly idea and told Susan Rice to promote it?
Another question remains, why did General Petraeus go along with this lie and and why did he lie to Congress? He had to know the truth, the FBI knew the truth, the state department knew the truth, the department of Defense knew the truth and had told the truth in their testimony the previous day. It’s impossible to believe that the CIA didn’t know. Charles Krauthammer has proposed that the reason why Petraeus lied, because he still hoped to save his job after the FBI had discovered his affair and informed the White House. Krauthammer said the following in an interview earlier this week:
“I think the really shocking news today was that General Petraeus thought and hoped he could keep his job. He thought that it might and it would be kept secret, and that he could stay in his position. I think what that tells us is really important. It meant that he understood that the FBI obviously knew what was going on. He was hoping that those administration officials would not disclose what had happened, and therefore hoping that he would keep his job. And that meant 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.
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?
Of course it was being held over Petraeus’s head, and the sword was lowered on Election Day. You don’t have to be a cynic to see that as the ultimate in cynicism. As long as they needed him to give the administration line to quote Bill, everybody was silent. And as soon as the election’s over, as soon as he can be dispensed with, the sword drops and he’s destroyed. I mean, can you imagine what it’s like to be on that pressure and to think it didn’t distort or at least in some way unconsciously influence his testimony? That’s hard to believe.” The video is here.
Did Petraeus lie to save his own skin? Will he do it again on Friday when he testifies in a closed session on Capitol Hill? Will he remain loyal to the President when he testifies now that he has nothing to lose? Why would he remain loyal when the White House has not been loyal to him? Will he refute his own prior testimony? Seems unlikely but it also seems unlikely that he will continue to lie. Of course everything about this scandal has been one unlikely thing after another. So who knows what will happen during the Petraeus testimony on Friday?