|Still lost in the funhouse|
The federal agent who launched the investigation that eventually led to the resignation of CIA director David Petraeus was taken off the case during the summer over concerns that he "might have grown obsessed with the matter," The Wall Street Journal reports.Emphasis mine. So lemme get this straight -- the FBI was investigating this in the summer, and the Obama administration only found out about it last week? And the FBI investigator is sending shirtless picture of himself to the source of the inquiry? I mean, what the hell? Maybe FBI director Robert Mueller ought to join Petraeus on the unemployment line.
The FBI agent began the inquiry on behalf of a friend, Jill Kelley, who reportedly received about a half a dozen hostile emails from Petraeus' mistress Paula Broadwell.
The agent referred the matter to a cyber crimes unit but was prohibited from the any role in the investigation after the FBI found out that he sent shirtless photos of himself to Kelley, people familiar with the probe told The WSJ.
Meanwhile, there's this little tidbit (h/t: James Taranto):
Military expert Paula Broadwell, who was allegedly improperly involved with resigned CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus, confirmed in October that the CIA annex in Benghazi asked for reinforcements when the consulate came under attack on September 11. She also acknowledged that "there was a failure in the system."
Broadwell was speaking at her alma mater, the University of Denver, on October 26. Her lecture, which is on YouTube under the title "Alumni Symposium 2012 Paula Broadwell," now has added value, because based on the recent disclosures, it can now be assumed that she indeed knew exactly what it was that Petraeus knew about the attack.
Broadwell confirmed the reports on Fox News that the CIA annex asked for a special unit, the Commander in Chief's In Extremis Force, to come and assist it. She also said that the force could indeed have reinforced the consulate, and that Petraeus knew all of this, but was not allowed to talk to the press because of his position in the CIA.
Specifically, Broadwell apparently said the following at the University of Denver that day:
"They were requesting the – it's called the C-in-C's In Extremis Force – a group of Delta Force operators, our very, most talented guys we have in the military. They could have come and reinforced the consulate and the CIA annex. Now, I don't know if a lot of you have heard this but the CIA annex had actually taken a couple of Libyan militia members prisoner, and they think that the attack on the consulate was an attempt to get these prisoners back. It's still being vetted.
"The challenging thing for Gen. Petraeus is that in his new position, he's not allowed to communicate with the press. So he's known all of this – they had correspondence with the CIA station chief in Libya, within 24 hours they kind of knew what was happening."
Well, we haven't established that Broadwell's assertion is true, and we may never establish it for sure, but it would go a long ways toward explaining a potential motive for the attack. My guess is that any information about the goings-on at the CIA annex would have been classified and that if Broadwell's assertion is true, she committed a security breach that's far more troubling than, say, the outing of Valerie Plame. It's also interesting that Broadwell appears to be offering information that Petraeus wasn't allowed to share. On whose behalf was she doing this? Did her paramour share some pillow talk and she took matters into her own hands? Or was this a back-channel way for Petraeus to get the story out, should anyone want to connect the dots?
I'm a firm believer in Occam's Razor, which essentially means that the simplest explanation (that accounts for the variables involved) is usually the best explanation. The Occam's Razor explanation would be this -- in the eternal turf war between the FBI and the CIA, the FBI got wind of the affair and saw an opportunity to lay their rivals low via this investigation. For a variety of reasons, they would have kept it on the down-low to keep things from exploding during the campaign -- and please understand that I'm not insinuating anything about the Obama administration's handling of the case, because I don't have reason to. Ideally, Petraeus would have been confronted quietly after the election and he would have simply retired without any further questions being asked. But between the shirtless FBI agent and Broadwell's overall deportment, it came out cockeyed (so to speak). That's also the most charitable explanation I can offer.
The thing is, if Broadwell did commit a security breach, she needs to be punished. We can't have that sort of thing. And if it goes to trial, all hell could break loose. I don't know what to think, though. I really don't. The whole thing is just too strange.