The scandal surrounding former CIA Director and retired General David Petraeus is as boring now and it was when the story first broke. Thus far the only possible breach of national security may have been committed his biographer turned paramour Paula Broadwell. I’m guessing given the record of such past sex scandals, the voyeur aspect, the delight of some in setting back and passing moral judgement is a large part of what is driving the pandering media coverage – that means especially Good Morning America, CBS’s morning show and NBC’s the Today Show. The only other consequential aspect of the media coverage in driven by the conservative media and it’s conspiracy theories. Admittedly not scientific, just by observation, the biggest part of the Right’s angle on the scandal is that Petraeus’s affair was being used by the White House to blackmail the CIA director into whitewashing the “true” story of Benghazi,Libya. Conservative site Newsbusters, their intrepid analysis Noel Sheppard and WaPO columnist Charles Krauthammer are on the case, Krauthammer: White House ‘Held Affair Over Petraeus’s Head’ For Favorable Testimony On Benghazi
Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer on Tuesday said the White House used David Petraeus’s affair to get the CIA director to give testimony about the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that was in line with the administration’s position on the matter.
Appearing on Fox News’s Special Report, Krauthammer said, “The sword was lowered on Election Day” (video follows with transcript and commentary):
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: 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?
All conspiracy conjecture has flaws. Some of the 9-11 conspiracy chatter was pretty good as far as these things go because the average person does not know much about structural engineering or the potential high temperatures generated by a plane loaded with jet fuel flying into a building. The Right’s chatter relies entirely on buying into a scenario, a narrative in which they cast everything in a certain light, relying on the strong tendency of their listeners and readers to drink the kool-aid as usual. If this whole scandal was engineered by the White House how did they get Jill Kelly, a conservative Republican to contact the FBI to start an investigation into e-mails sent by conservative Republican and staunch is not sycophantic admirer of Petraeus, Paula Broadwell. How did that conversation go? President Obama: Hi Jill this is the president, I’d like you to call the FBI and ask them to start an investigation into those hostile e-mails you have been getting. Jill: Oh sure, no problem. Anything I can do to bring down a revered Republican general. These events were supposed to stop Petraeus from testifying about Benghazi. The tiny problem with that is that the General is going to testify. Let’s keep on our Republican tin-foil hats for another minute. Since the general is going to testify and the scandal has already broken and has gotten more media scrutiny than the lies Bush, Cheney, Charles Krauthammer and Newsbusters told about Iraq, does that not suggest that the conspiracy is not working. If Petraeus was being blackmailed he could not only testify, but with the blackmail no longer an issue he could totally burn the White House by spinning the story in a way that makes the White house look more culpable. That would be very difficult to do since we already have facts gathered by the media who went to Benghazi. Those facts dovetail with other accounts. Let’s also consider the possibility of Petraeus not testifying. If he was being blackmailed or even slightly pressured or even only imagined that the White House burned him in some way. There is nothing stopping him from calling 60 Minutes or the new York Times and getting all the press coverage he wanted to completely burn the White House. That is the thing about Republicans and their serial lies and myths – they start to crumble at the slightest use of logic and facts.
If anyone is going to get burned about the issues related to the scandal it is going to be based on one or more Republicans violating national security laws, FBI investigating how Petraeus biographer Broadwell obtained classified files
The FBI is making a new push to determine how a woman who had an affair with retired Gen. David H. Petraeus when he was CIA director obtained classified files, part of an expanding series of investigations in a scandal that also threatens the career of the United States’ top military commander in Afghanistan.
Senior law enforcement officials said that a late-night seizure on Monday of boxes of material from the North Carolina home of Paula Broadwell, a Petraeus biographer whose affair with him led to his resignation last week, marks a renewed focus by investigators on sensitive material found in her possession.
“The issue of national security is still on the table,” one U.S. law enforcement official said. Both Petraeus and Broadwell have denied to investigators that he was the source of any classified information, officials said.
One other thing that struck me about how this all began is how a Republican with some power and connections got the FBI enquirer stared in the first place. The average person would usually start reporting what they believed to be threatening e-mail with local law enforcement.
Kelley subsequently received additional e-mails in a similar vein, sent to an account she shared with her husband. The source close to Kelley said they were sent under four anonymous names, some apparently from Internet cafes. Kelley shared the initial e-mails forwarded from Allen with a friend who is an FBI agent, and eventually turned over all the missives to the bureau, which determined that Broadwell had sent them. The subsequent FBI inquiry exposed the Broadwell-Petraeus affair.
Close associates of Allen, who is married, said the general denied that he had an affair with Kelley or that he had committed any wrongdoing in his communications with her. One said that investigators may have misconstrued platonic references to her as a “sweetheart.”
Nevertheless, the bureau turned over a mountain of documents to Pentagon officials — an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 pages, based largely on communication between Allen and Kelley — prompting Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta to order an inspector general inquiry.
The FBI inquiry of Broadwell and the new Pentagon probe of Allen create the potential for more evidence to surface, and for the scandal to expand further.
Certainly one purpose the Obama as blackmailer intrigue is that it deflects from a scandal in which all the major players are Republicans. As we all know, conservatives are the nation’s gold standard for moral behavior and this is just another crack in that nonsense, that is a genuine urban myth.
Kelley is turning out to be quite the character, Jill Kelley, Woman Who Sparked Petraeus Scandal, Ran Questionable Charity and, Jill Kelley, at the center of the Petraeus scandal, had called police over the weekend to shoo people off her lawn and in the process invoked her “diplomatic inviolability” to bewildered police officers.
If it wasn’t for you fancy city slickers, Paul Ryan (R-WI) will be VP now, Ryan Sees Urban Vote as Reason G.O.P. Lost. Though even on election night he believed everything Karl Rove said about winning being a shoe-in. While the conservative faithful certainly still see Ryan as the brainy wiz kid and the future of conservatism, in the reality based community he has proven to be all PowerPoint slides and no substance.
Last week there was a movement afoot to block Warren from getting on the committee, which oversees the financial sector. But that seems to be meeting with enough resistance that at least one top Senator has publicly voiced support for seating Warren on banking.
On Friday afternoon, Senator Jack Reed—the number 2 Democrat on the banking committee—told George Zornick of The Nation that he would strong endorse her if she sought a position on banking.
“I can’t think of anybody that’s come to the Senate with thirty years of detailed knowledge of the industry from the perspective of teaching at law school and doing many other things, and then serving in the drafting of significant aspects of Dodd-Frank from the administration standpoint. So she comes prepared,” he said. “It’s really an abundance of intellectual riches.”
Politoco’s Ben White goes even further in his Morning Money memo:
From a top Dem source: “[Sen. Jack] Reed (D-R.I.) is pushing hard for [Warren] to get on Banking, but there are many bank lobbyists pushing to keep her off.”
The caveat here is that Warren may not seek a position on the banking committee. There will be pressure on her not to take the seat from Kirsten Gillibrand, the junior Senator from New York, who would be a shoe-in if not for Warren. More importantly, according to a former Hill staffer, the Democratic leadership will likely offer Warren an even more sought after committee seat—perhaps on the extremely powerful Senate Finance Committee. The point would be to offer her Warren a powerful position that kept her out of direct oversight of the financial sector.
Update: The seniority argument was somewhat undercut yesterday when The Hill reported that New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand had said she is not interested in the seat on the judiciary committee. She was one of the two Senators who were said to be angling for the seat and were ahead of Warren in seniority.
Lobbyists for the big banks, who had succeeded in keeping Warren from becoming the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and had contributed millions to her opponent in the senate race, have been reminding senior Democrats that Warren wasn’t really entitled to a seat on the committee. Other Democratic Senators seeking a seat on the committee—two Democratic seats are vacant—had seniority.
Of course, the lobbyists weren’t really interested in Senate traditions and seniority. They just didn’t want Warren on the committee because they view her as enemy number one. She’s too smart to be bamboozled and too independent to be influenced by campaign cash or arm-twisting by party leaders. That makes her dangerous.
The United States Senate Committee on Finance is a very powerful committee, but it would be great to have Warren on United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. She not only has the financial legislation expertise, but has proven very adept at batting down right-wing talking points from bank puppets like ranking Republican Richard Shelby (R-GA). When you see a sleazy politician in a drama making back room deals with lobbyist they could well be modeled on any conservative currently on the banking Committee – Shelby, David Vitter (R-LA) who gets his dates via a phone and MasterCard and Jim DeMint (R-SC) who has been a puppet for special interests so long he thinks that is his real job. Poor Warren will have to have a special disinfectant bath after every session with these creeps.