The fallout from former CIA head David Petraeus’ resignation might be more significant than first thought: as all eyes turn to the ex-intelligence chief’s mistress, it’s apparent that she may have been privy to what really happened in Benghazi.
Two months after the storming of an US consulate in Benghazi, questions remain largely unanswered about both how and why insurgents entered the facility on September 11 and executed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. The discussion became a heated issue on the campaign trail leading up to Election Day, and conflicting accounts from the White House, State Department and Congress all led to a mess of confusion that has only further spun out of control following the unexpected stepping down of Petraeus on Friday.
In the immediate aftermath of the CIA chief’s resignation, skeptics quickly suggested that there was more to the story, especially given Petraeus’ role as head of the country’s intelligence agency and the relatively unscathing extramarital affair that he rightfully admitted to in citing his departure from office. As journalists and investigators tried to dig deep for info on the alleged mistress, Petraeus biographer Paula Broadwell, as expected the story took a drastic turn by Sunday when it was revealed that she may have been briefed on the truth of the Benghazi scandal while the rest of the country claws for answers.
A speech given by Broadwell only last month at her Alma matter suggests that she was given information about the terrorist attack that never made it to the American public.
“Now I don’t know if a lot of you heard this, but the CIA annex had actually had taken a couple of Libya militia members prisoner,” Broadwell told a crowd at the University of Denver alumni symposium on October 26. “And they think that the attack on the consulate was an effort to try to get these prisoners back. So that’s still being vetted.”
Broadwell's address was publically available on YouTube until this weekend; it has since been removed, although mirrors have surfaced.
Until then, and even today, the CIA denies Broadwell’s claims that the CIA was holding anyone prisoner at what has long been described as a consulate building in Benghazi. Should her account prove true, however, it could mean that the agency had a secret black site prison in Libya, a fact long denied by Washington. If true, it could also mean that not only was the security of United States’ top intelligence office breached, but also may for once provide an impetus for the Sept. 11 attack.
The FBI has officially confirmed searching Broadwell’s home in Charlotte, North Carolina. The agency did not say why it performed the search, but it’s clear that Broadwell’s potential access to any sensitive material is being taken seriously.
In the initial aftermath of the assault, the Obama administration considered an anti-Islamic filmed produced in America, ‘Innocence of Muslims,’ as the catalyst for the Benghazi attack and similar strikes in the region. After days of pressing, however, the White House eventually admitted that the assassination of Ambassador Stevens was being blamed by Washington on terrorists, 11 years to the day after al-Qaeda operatives brought down the Twin Towers.
According to last month’s address in Denver, Broadwell also said a group of Delta Force operators, “the most talented guys we have in the military,” could have been dispatched to provide reinforcement for the Americans in Benghazi but were not. Instead, the US packed up and left immediately, not securing the scene until days later, by which point much of the facility, and presumably all evidence, had been looted or destroyed.
On late Sunday, Greg Miller of The Washington Post wrote on Twitter that the “CIA adamant that Broadwell claims about agency holding prisoners at Benghazi are not true.” On Sunday, a spokesperson for the CIA told The Daily Beast that the agency "has not had detention authority since January 2009, when Executive Order 13491 was issued. Any suggestion that the Agency is still in the detention business is uninformed and baseless.”
Broadwell has yet to make any statements to the press since she made international headlines on Friday following Petraeus’ resignation. On his part, the former CIA chief has yet to publically discuss the Benghazi massacre, and will no longer testify before Congress as originally scheduled to do as such this Thursday. Instead, acting CIA Director Michael Morell is expected to field questions to lawmakers in Washington.