Woodward: Petraeus Personally Investigated Benghazi, Testimony Essential

Monday, 12 Nov 2012 02:48 PM

By Stephen Feller

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Paula Broadwell, the biographer who was revealed last week to have had an extramarital affair with former CIA Director David Petraeus, said in a speech at the University of Denver on Oct. 26 that prisoners held at a CIA annex near the U.S. consulate in Benghazi may have been cause for the Sept. 11 attack, Fox News reported.

Petraeus went to Libya to conduct his own investigation into the attack in Benghazi a week and a half ago, and his report was expected to largely support the version of events put forth by the White House since the consulate was stormed, Bob Woodward said Sunday on NBC’s ‘Meet The Press.’

Fox cites unnamed sources in Washington, D.C., who confirmed that Libyan militiamen, as well as other prisoners from North Africa and the Middle East, were held and interrogated at the CIA annex in the days leading up to the attack.

“The CIA annex had actually, um, had taken a couple of Libyan militia members prisoner and they think that the attack on the consulate was an effort to try to get these prisoners back,” Broadwell said in the speech. “So that's still being vetted.”

The existence of the facility, one of the largest the CIA operates in the region, was revealed to the public during an open hearing in early October as members of Congress scrambled to find out the details of the consulate attack.

During the hearing, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, called discussion of the facility “totally inappropriate in an open forum such as this” because “I was told specifically while I was in Libya I could not and should not ever talk about what you’re showing here today,” according to the Washington Post.

According to the Fox report, the CIA had been moving prisoners and was planning to shut the facility down in the weeks before extremists stormed the gates of the Benghazi consulate, though the agency denies that to be true because it has not had the authority to detain people since January, 2009.

Darrell Issa, chair of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which held the early October hearing, seemed to contradict the CIA statement when he asked that conversation stop and images relating to the annex be taken down because of concerns that classified information was being aired publicly.

“In this hearing room, we’re not going to point out details of what may still in fact be a facility of the United States government or more facilities,” Issa said. According to the Christian Science Monitor, CIA operations in Benghazi were significantly larger than the diplomatic ones at the consulate.

Petraeus knew almost immediately that the attack was terrorism because of the agency’s work there, Broadwell said in the Oct. 26 speech, and that the attack may have been an attempt to free the Libyan prisoners being held at the annex.

“So he knows the full story,” Woodward said. “There are still unanswered questions and so forth. But one of the things Petraeus always did was dig deep. And so he — apparently there are videos and there are tapes or tapes and pictures and things that can be shown.”

Petraeus’s affair was revealed after Broadwell allegedly sent harassing emails to Jill Kelley, a military volunteer and friend of Petraeus who lives near MacDill Air Force base in Tampa, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The FBI got involved in what it thought was a stalking case but found email between Broadwell and Petraeus and, based on what investigators found, had concerns about intelligence being compromised in the email communications.

Petraeus resigned Friday after officials alerted the White House to the affair and possible intelligence breach. He was scheduled to testify before Congress on Tuesday but Mike Morell, deputy director of the CIA, will take his place, in addition to becoming acting director of the agency.

Despite his resignation, members of Congress have continued to say repeatedly that the former CIA director’s testimony is essential to understanding what happened in Benghazi, though they are unsure how, when or under what circumstances he could testify.

“He was obviously the person in charge of the CIA and he has information that probably other people don’t have,” Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said Sunday on NBC. “So I think it’s still going to be important that his input comes into the conclusion and what we find about what went wrong. We obviously weren’t prepared. I think you have to spend time to find out what happened and how it happened.”

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