There have been three major developments in this fast-moving story since my last column on this subject: 1) The stunning revelation by Broadwell in a speech given at the University of Denver that there were detainees in the Benghazi “consulate” — really a CIA station — and that the attack may have been an attempt to free them, and 2) the rising visibility of the “shirtless guy,” the Tampa FBI agent whose impatience with the progress of the investigation led him to go to the House GOP leadership, an act that sealed Petraeus’s fate — and, perhaps, Gen. Allen’s. Which brings us to 3) the ensnaring of Gen. Allen in the Broadwell-Petraeus net, which adds much fuel to an already raging fire.
The Benghazi angle may help bring the “why” of this whole imbroglio into sharper focus. First, let’s set the context: Fox News and the Republicans had been making a full-bore effort to turn the Benghazi attack into a “scandal” that would bring down the Obama administration, an “October surprise” that would make short work of the anti-colonialist Kenyan. They spun a narrative that had the President of the United States — and his CIA Director — ordering a rescue team to “stand down” while Ambassador Chris Stevens, and three others, were murdered by Islamists. Broadwell’s “by the way there were detainees in there” remark, uttered almost offhand, was pushback, no doubt encouraged by Petraeus.
The “shirtless guy,” who earned this description because he reportedly sent shirtless photos of himself to Jill Kelley — the recipient of Broadwell’s “harassing” emails — enters the picture as the key catalyst who set the anti-Petraeus coup in motion. We are told he is a friend of someone with a connection to Rep. Reichert (R-WA), who brought the matter to Rep. Cantor’s office. But hold on, wait a minute here …
Since when does the FBI investigate “harassing” emails sent to an ordinary American citizen? Sure, Kelley had a friend in the FBI — the Shirtless Guy — but the question is why did the FBI’s cybercrimes section agree to launch a lengthy and costly investigation into emails that, by some accounts, weren’t that big a deal? The Shirtless Guy, who is said to have become so obsessed with the case that he was taken off it, must have developed some suspicion of who was behind the emails, and the nature of Broadwell’s connection to Petraeus. Whose instrument was he?
I gave my own view of the answer to this question in my last column, and the attempt to take down Gen. Allen seems to confirm my analysis. Who, you ask, would want Allen’s scalp? Well, consider the General’s comments after the latest blue-green attack in Afghanistan:
“ISAF commander General John Allen told US 60 Minutes program in an interview recorded before the latest incident, and scheduled to be aired today, that insider attacks were unacceptable.
“’I’m mad as hell about them, to be honest with you,’ he said. ‘We’re willing to sacrifice a lot for this campaign, but we’re not willing to be murdered for it.’
“Gen. Allen said that just as homemade bombs had become the signature weapon of the Iraq war, he believed that in Afghanistan, “the signature attack that we’re beginning to see is going to be the insider attack.”
Insider attacks make up the great majority of US casualties in Afghanistan, these days, and with the Obama administration about to undergo a general review of our troop levels in that country, Allen’s open hostility to the mission would not sit well with the more hawkish faction in the national security apparatus, i.e. the neocons and their fellow travelers. So, he had to go, too — and it’s a “nice” touch that they managed to get him in the course of the same investigation, without having to bother cooking up another scandal. Good work, boys!
One aspect of the Great Pentagon Purge that has gone almost completely unnoticed is this offhand little tidbit in a Washington Post story about the scandal,
“Prominent members of conservative, Washington-based defense think tanks were given permanent office space at [Petraeus’s] headquarters and access to military aircraft to tour the battlefield. They provided advice to field commanders that sometimes conflicted with orders the commanders were getting from their immediate bosses.
“Some of Petraeus’s staff officers said he and the American mission in Afghanistan benefited from the broader array of viewpoints, but others complained that the outsiders were a distraction, the price of his growing fame.”
So the neocons were right there looking over Petraeus’s shoulder, and his successor’s shoulder, giving “advice” that went against orders from the top, i.e. they were undermining the mission as conceived by the Pentagon, and no doubt actively subverting the planned withdrawal. Did Gen. Allen throw them out? That he’s been caught in the honey trap along with Petraeus should come as no surprise.
The military is quite a distinct entity from the War Party, and this should be obvious to anyone who has been alert to the internal debates in the national security bureaucracy over the course of the past decade or so. (Read more)