Debate Forum, 11/20

Was General Petraeus ousted because of his Benghazi narrative?

Despite the fact that world events seem to be spiraling out of control, the national media on Friday was focused on catching a glimpse of former CIA Director General David Petraeus as he slipped onto Capitol Hill to testify before the House Intelligence Committee. The question at the center of the controversy is who issued the talking points that the administration used to describe the Benghazi attack as a spontaneous protest rather than being recognized immediately as a terrorist attack.

Word leaked out Friday afternoon that, in his testimony, Petraeus emphatically stated that the CIA knew almost immediately it was a terror attack and reflected that information in the talking points it issued to the Obama administration.  The White House continues to deny they changed the language in those talking points away from the probability that it was a terrorist attack.  Obviously, they can’t both be telling the truth.

One week earlier, Petraeus resigned as the Director of the CIA in light of an FBI investigation of Petraeus involving an affair with his 40-year-old biographer Paula Broadwell. In addition to the normal societal condemnation of philandering, because there is always a risk that extramarital affairs could subject an intelligence officer, like Petraeus, to the potential of blackmail to keep the affair quiet, they are considered extremely bad judgment for those in the company.

The investigation into Petraeus began earlier in the summer and the FBI determined fairly quickly, by late summer at the latest, that the affair did not create a security breach. Absent a security breach, the FBI argued last week that it was appropriate not to notify Congress or the White House earlier.  According to the White House, it wasn’t informed of the FBI investigation that involved Petraeus until Election Day, Nov. 6.

The very fact that the White House was kept out of the loop has caused the appearance of a cover up by the Justice Department, timing the release of the information to the White House until after the election. The concern has more to do with Petraeus’ role in the investigation of the Benghazi attack than any concerns over the propinquitous relationship between the general and his now infamous biographer. There has emerged over the past week a difference in the story between Petraeus and the Obama White House over who characterized the Benghazi attack as a spontaneous protest which got out of hand.

Conspiracy theorists are raising the possibility that Petraeus was ousted last week when the White House became convinced that he was not going to support their narrative before the House Committee investigating Benghazi, that the White House was misinformed by the intelligence community about the nature of the attack. The White House has argued all along that they were not intentionally misleading the American people.

If the testimony of General Petraeus is to be believed, it would appear that the Obama administration, on their own, made a deliberate decision to state and restate the claim that the attack was spontaneous and grew out of a demonstration against an anti-Islam video. This claim was made by the President, the Secretary of State and UN Ambassador Susan Rice. If the claim is proven false, some believe the Obama Administration wanted at all costs to avoid a narrative that undermined their foreign policy claims, and an al-Qaida attack on Benghazi would have been damaging to the President’s re-election chances.

Other observers argue that there is no evidence Petraeus was pushed out because of his role in the Benghazi response. The fact that he resigned right after the election and right before another closed-door Benghazi hearing is simply a coincidence. Since there was no evidence of a security breach and simply an affair, those observers argue the FBI was correct in not informing the President earlier.

Forum Question of the Week:

Should the FBI have reported to President Obama once General Petraeus became the target of their investigation? Is the Petraeus scandal in the news now simply because it was being conveniently delayed until after the election?

 

Scandal: If it ain’t there, fabricate it!

By Marianne Stanley

AUGH! Once again, we have a trumped up story about nefarious and imaginary shenanigans by the Obama administration. Shades of 2009! Just as the Tea Party mysteriously popped into view and became doggedly disrespectful doomsayers who dragged us all through four long years of their calling the President a “liar” on national television during his State of the Union Address and shouting down Congressional Democrats who tried to conduct town hall meetings in their districts to explain the new healthcare proposals, this new term for Obama is also predictably beginning with conspiracy theories and allegations of a cover up in both the Benghazi attack and the Petraeus affair.

I can hardly stand it … this unrelenting, soul-numbing display of “Sore Loser Syndrome” that we see every time a Democrat is elected to the presidency but never encounter when a Republican is elected. Clinton had to endure eight solid years of this garbage. Good sportsmanship and good citizenship seem to actually mean something to Democrats. Isn’t it time for the Republicans to find the value in that too?

Most Americans are not aware (because the media no longer does its job) that while this is the second attack on an embassy under Obama, there were 12 attacks with 33 killed under George W. Bush and eight while Donald Rumsfeld was Secretary of Defense. The number of attacks and deaths were even greater under Reagan. 92 deaths. Where were all the pointed fingers then? The conspiracy theorists? The paranoid finders of a “cover-up?” Why were there no special investigations called or special Senate hearings held?

The question in today’s forum is itself a perfect reflection of the talking-point-corporate-media that repeats and repeats and repeats the same misleading, univision version of events at the expense of just open-mindedly trying to get to the truth even if it’s not exciting and salacious.

The Petraeus “scandal” is just another page from the same far Right playbook. If there really is a “scandal” in this Petraeus incident, it certainly isn’t about his affair with a pretty, young woman. I mean, c’mon! If you kicked every guy out of political office or his corporate position who has cheated or is cheating on his wife, there would be an eerie silence in the halls of Congress and in CEO corridors across the nation. While “sex sells,” it is hardly news and doesn’t warrant all this hoopla. Most of us have caught on to the hypocrisy and posturing and could use a break from these media circuses.

We’re also being told they must investigate because they’re worried about possible leaked classified information. Seriously?? Paula Broadwell is a fellow West Point grad with a top-secret clearance, for Pete’s sake! She’s not a foreign prostitute or an Iraqi or Afghani, so that’s bogus too – nothing more than a red herring to draw us off the scent of the things that really do stink and that should be treated like the major issues they are. One more point: people may want to keep in mind the fact that Petraeus is a George W. Bush appointee, not a guy brought in by Obama.

So what should we be focusing on in the halls of Congress today? What are the crises right here, right now for America and for Americans? Climate change, genetically engineered foods that remain unregulated, the millions of very real people who want and need jobs to support their families, the erosion of our Bill of Rights, especially our freedom of speech, of assembly and our right to privacy, the growing militarization of our local police departments, the imprisonment of millions of Americans for non-violent “crimes” like drug possession or growing marijuana plants, and the legislative push to disempower women from being able to make their own decisions in the most private and fundamental of areas – reproduction. Ah, and then we have the real scandal in the Petraeus “scandal” … the explosion of surveillance in America.

Turns out our surveillance state has come of age and has been handed not only the keys to the family car but the keys to everyone else’s car. Think about it. If something as minor as a powerful man having a dalliance with a young woman brings in the FBI, the CIA and all manner of media and investigations as they unearth every single email into and out of his account and who wrote them, we too are all fair game. That should scare us. That’s the real story and the genuine scandal in the Petraeus affair.

Let’s face it – we have enough of the BIG things to worry about and address without being forced to pay attention to gossip filling our media today. Be independent. Get educated. Check out independent media rather than controlled media. Investigate Reader Supported News (RSN), or Op Ed News, or Alternet on the Internet. By the same token, run as far and as fast as you can away from anything affiliated or sponsored by Americans for Prosperity (the billionaire oil-and-gas industry Koch Brothers), American Crossroads (Karl Rove), Fox “News” or the Heritage Foundation. These folks have an agenda and it isn’t for our own good. We need to stop being a depository for corporate propaganda designed to keep us distracted while they continue the greatest heist in history at our (the 99 percent’s) expense.

Marianne Stanley is an attorney, college professor and former journalist who believes many of our nation’s ills could be cured if our children were taught critical thinking skills beginning at the elementary level and continuing through middle and high school. She can be reached at MarianneStanley@DaytonCityPaper.com.

 

FBI should have reported investigation to president, Congress

By Rob Scott

The President of United States has many powers under the Constitution, some specific and others delegated to the President from Congress. Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution vests executive power in the President. Under Section 2, the President is deemed commander in chief of the Armed Forces and appoints lower heads of departments in the Executive branch.

Two of these “lower heads” are the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Both of the heads of these agencies report to the president.

As part of the intelligence reform after the September 11 attacks, in 2004 a new office was created that reported directly to the President called the Director of National Intelligence. What was discovered after reviewing intelligence failures of the September 11 attacks is that the two intelligence communities, the FBI and CIA, did not “talk” to one another regarding intelligence. In order to bridge the gap, the Director of National Intelligence was charged with being the “coordinator” between the two agencies under the President.

The FBI is charged with jurisdiction over domestic issues, such as federal criminal investigations and an internal intelligence agency (counter intelligence). Examples of the agency’s jurisdiction are gang activity, drug activity, fraud in public office, mail fraud, serial murderers and more. Think of the movies “Catch Me If You Can” and “Silence of the Lambs.” The FBI director reports to the Attorney General (Department of Justice). The Attorney General reports directly to the President.

The CIA is an agency charged with national security concerns and is an independent civilian intelligence agency. The CIA handles espionage activities and its prime goal is intelligence gathering. Think of the movies “Mission Impossible” and “The Bourne Identity.” The director of central intelligence reports to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI). DNI reports directly to the President.

Since the reform, the intelligence community has been given resources unmatched in the nation’s history and there has been an obvious good result from the reform -the prime example being the finding and death of No. 1 terrorist and September 11 mastermind, Osama Bin Laden.

However, sorting through the details of the recent Libya attacks on the U.S. embassy, resulting in four American deaths, has shown additional cracks. The recent addition of former CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus’ sex scandal exemplifies deeper issues.

The President is charged with numerous duties, but the primary one is to keep the nation safe. For the President of the United States to make the best and most informed decisions regarding national security, the information (i.e. intelligence) thePpresident receives must be accurate and trustworthy.

All of the employees of the departments and agencies under the executive branch directly or indirectly report to the President. And as President Harry Truman would proudly exclaim, “the buck stops here.”

Regarding the current issue, for the FBI not to inform the President that his Director of Central Intelligence was under federal investigation is not just troubling but on the level of criminal and scandalous. The President should have been informed of the issue immediately, regardless if he was running for re-election at the time. What if espionage had reached inside the President’s inner circle? Or if compromised classified information had been revealed?

Current news reports claim that the Attorney General knew about the FBI probe of Gen. Petraeus regarding suspicions that his email had been hacked, months before President Obama was informed.

If an investigation reveals the President was not informed of the issue due to his re-election, or worse, due to a real scandal, then major repercussions must occur to the Obama administration. Conspiracy theorists are claiming the President’s inner circle had known about the investigation possibly and were holding it over the Director of Central Intelligence’s head in order to stave off information regarding the Libya attacks.

If the conspiracy theorists are correct, then those actions are even more criminal in the Obama administration and, if the President had knowledge, it is certainly an impeachable offense.

Regardless, President Obama should be demanding why he was not informed of the situation and, as a result, several administration officials should be losing their jobs. Obama must display leadership in this intelligence crisis to assure the American people that we have the best and brightest protecting the nation. It is the President’s most important role to protect the nation as chief executive. This is something he said during his re-election campaign and he should be saying this at the top of his lungs as President.

Also, the leadership in both parties in Congress is now asking questions why the FBI did not inform them regarding the investigations of the Director of Central Intelligence. Some members of Congress are questioning how President Obama did not know about the Petraeus probe before Election Day.

In response, President Obama said in a press conference last week that he is withholding judgment on the FBI’s decision to not share any information with him or lawmakers until he is aware of more facts surrounding the situation. Essentially translated, the President said instead of the “buck stops here,” he said “delay and ultimately everyone will forget letting no one be held accountable.”

Rob Scott is a practicing attorney at Oldham & Deitering, LLC. Scott is the Chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Party and the founder of the Dayton Tea Party. He can be contacted at rob@oldhamdeitering.com or www.gemcitylaw.com.

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