This week's syndicated column.
I think I know what David Petraeus is thankful for this week.
Even though it appears the former CIA director lied to the House Intelligence Committee on Sept. 14, and may have lied again to the same committee on Nov. 16, he is starting to slip out of the inner ring of Benghazi cover-up suspects. We are losing sight of his official role in the deception as the media lens ossifies over a tawdry love triangle. For this, he must be thankful. Maybe to ensure the good fortune continues, Petraeus has hired Bob Barnett, the $975-per-hour Washington superlawyer to officials with issues and/or big book deals, to manage what reports call Petraeus' "transition to civilian life."
Here, for the record, is what the media and politicians are letting slip away with him.
After Petraeus appeared before the House Intelligence Committee on Sept. 14 to brief members behind closed doors on the Benghazi attack of Sept. 11, the ranking Democrat on the committee, Maryland Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, gave ABC an account of the briefing.
"In the Benghazi area," Ruppersberger said, "in the beginning we feel that it was spontaneous -- the protest -- because it went on for two or three hours, which is very relevant, because if it was something that was planned, they could have come and attacked right away. At this point, it looks as if there was a spontaneous situation that occurred and that as a result of that, the extreme groups that were probably connected to al-Qaida took advantage of that situation and then the attack started."
Spontaneous protest, unplanned attack: That was Petraeus' testimony as CIA director three days after U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in Benghazi, Libya.
Within 24 hours of the attack, however, the White House and top officials at the State Department, the Pentagon and the intelligence agencies knew that no protest, spontaneous or other, had taken place. They knew the U.S. had been hit on the 9/11 anniversary by a planned attack by al-Qaida affiliates. Ruppersberger's account, then, indicates Petraeus deceived the committee. When committed knowingly, as former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy recently pointed out, such deception is a felony.
This same phony story -- that "extreme groups" took advantage of a "spontaneous" protest over a YouTube video to mount an "unplanned" attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi -- would be repeated by the Obama White House for two weeks, climaxing in the president's U.N. address on Sept. 25. There, President Obama cited the video six times and declared to the world body, dominated by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (an Islamic bloc of 56 nations plus the Palestinian Authority): "The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam."
Blaming the YouTube video for the violence was, in effect, blaming free speech, which is also OIC policy. Additionally, it denied the reality of the planned jihad attack, which, by extension, denied that al-Qaida-style jihad terrorism still exists at the vanguard of expansionist Islam.
To date, the media haven't asked President Obama and his top officials, why? Why the administration-wide cover-up? Why didn't military help get to Battleground Benghazi? Without coming clean, President Obama has been re-elected, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mentioned as a 2016 presidential candidate, and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice floated as the next secretary of state.
And Petraeus? On Nov. 12, Fox News reported that "congressional leaders," believing Petraeus lied to them in September, had "already considered charging Petraeus with perjury, but said they planned to withhold judgment until he testified this week." (Under oath or not, it is a crime to lie to federal officials.) We have heard no such tough talk since.
Except, that is, from the OIC. While the administration has publicly dropped the video (although its producer is serving one year in jail for "parole violations"), the OIC nations continue to cite it in escalating calls for laws criminalizing "defamation" of Islam. And Uncle Sam continues to lend a sympathetic ear. Just this week, Anne Casper, U.S. consul general in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, spoke at an OIC symposium on "Defamation of Islam."
Connected? You bet. I submit that the September cycle of Islamic rage, ostensibly over a YouTube video, was another assault in the OIC war on free speech about Islam, which the U.S. has officially joined by co-sponsoring with the OIC the so-called Istanbul Process. Unexpectedly, an al-Qaida terror attack in Benghazi on 9/11/12 threatened to get in the way. That same al-Qaida attack almost blew the lid off the Obama campaign mantra that since Osama bin Laden is dead, so is al-Qaida, and the even greater fakery that Obama's Arab Spring policy is a success.
And what about reports that Benghazi was a secret U.S. gunrunning hub for "rebels" in Syria? These are the scandals that probing Benghazi would uncover, but in Washington, all we hear about are sweet nothings.
On Nov. 16, Republican Rep. Peter King of New York went before the media to discuss the second Petraeus briefing. Amid elaborate testimonials for the retired general, King revealed Petraeus had not been straight with the committee.
"As far as General Petraeus," King said, "his testimony today was that from the start he had told us that this was a terrorist attack, terrorists involved from the start." King stated that he had "a very different recollection of that. The clear impression we were given (on Sept. 14) was that (the violence) rose out of a spontaneous demonstration and it was not a terrorist attack." King's recollection matches the Ruppersberger account of the first Petraeus briefing.
King underscored the notion that Petraeus has since changed his story. In last week's briefing, King conveyed that Petraeus said he had "all along made it clear that there was significant terrorist involvement. And that is not my recollection of what he told us on September 14."
An unidentified reporter asked: "Was he involved in the actual decision-making the night of the attack?"
King: "I don't want to get into that, but he was -- he was definitely fully aware of what was going on, yes."
Unidentified reporter: "Did he ask for military backup?"
King: "I am never going to get into that. I can't get into any of that."
Getting into every aspect of Benghazi-gate is the responsibility of Congress. The American people are owed the truth.