Two retired military enlisted guys–Brandon Webb, Navy SEAL, and JackMurphy, Green Beret–may have been quality guys in the service, but they are proving themselves clueless when it comes to buying a bullshit story about the downfall of General David Petraeus.
Now, it is possible that the Daily Mail is misreporting the content of their book. If so, then I owe them an apology. But that does not appear to be the case. In fact, they are specifically quoted in the bizarre Daily Mail piece.
Let’s start with the so-called “palace coup:”
Senior CIA officers targeted Petraeus because they didn’t like the way he was running the agency – focusing more on paramilitary operations than intelligence analysis. They used their political clout and their connections to force an FBI investigation of his affair with Paul Broadwell and make it public, according to ‘Benghazi: The Definitive Report.’
‘It was high-level career officers on the CIA who got the ball rolling on the investigation. It was basically a palace coupe to get Petraeus out of there,’ Jack Murphy, one of the authors, told MailOnline.
This is utter nonsense. For starters, we have never had a Director who put more priority on “intelligence analysis” than operations. Boys, you been watching too much Homeland on Showtime. Analysts at the CIA have always, absolutely always, taken the back seat when it comes to the sexiness of ops. Moreover, the CIA’s one time dominance in the realm of analysis has evaporated. The movement of the Presidential Daily Brief to the DNI (taking it outside of the control of the CIA) made the role of CIA analysts less relevant, not more. Petraeus is at the end of a long line when it comes to dissing intelligence analysts.
Then there is the claim that Petraeus was ramping up paramilitary ops.
Drones started in the CIA. In the immediate aftermath of 9-11, the CIA was the only US Government agency with a drone up in the air and they were the first with a drone out killing people. The escalation we have seen in drone strikes since Barack Obama took office have been carried out predominantly by the CIA.
CIA drone strikes started diminishing in 2011, which happened to coincide with our attack on the Bin Laden compound in Abottabad. Bill Roggio at the Long War Journal has terrific graphs charting the ups and downs of the drone activity. If anything, the chart makes it pretty clear that drones strikes have been going down, not up. Especially during the tenure of Petraeus.
One of these days the true story of the drone in the war on terror will be told. It is really two different stories. There are drones that are under the control of the military and there are drones under the control of the CIA. The CIA activity is more frequent and more lethal than that carried out by the U.S. military.
Webb and Murphy also take a whack at trying to explain Benghazi. Their version sounds plausible but is flawed:
Murphy and co-author Brandon Webb also revealed that the September 11 Benghazi terrorist attack that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, was retaliation by Islamist militants who had been targeted by covert U.S. military operations.
The book claims that neither Stevens nor even Petraeus knew about the raids by American special operations troops, which had ‘kicked a hornet’s nest’ among the heavily-armed fighters after the overthrow of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser, had been authorizing ‘unilateral operations in North Africa outside of the traditional command structure,’ according to the e-book. Brennan is Obama’s pick to replace Petraeus as head of the CIA.
Longtime readers know I have no lost love for John Brennan. I think he is a dangerous, incompetent. I think he should be prevented from becoming the head of the CIA. But let’s be sure to blame him for things he’s really done. The military, especially the Special Ops folks, do not send Op Orders to John Brennan for approval. Even the most highly classified units that operate within the confines of highly classified task forces still follow established JOPES procedures when it comes to planning and executing operations.
The notion of “military operations” outside the traditional command structure is truly a Hollywood fantasy. Even the raid to take out Osama Bin Laden followed the traditional command structure. The military command folks simply applied a strict need-to-know principle. Raids in North Africa are carried out under the authority of a specific task force and under the control of senior military personnel. Webb and Murphy should know better. But then again, maybe they were not cleared for full access to special ops activities and lack complete awareness of how things are really done.
Webb and Murphy may have been picking up rumint (rumor intelligence) about the White House running an “off-the-books” intelligence operation. There is precedent for that kind of thing–Iran Contra.
I am curious to see if Webb and Murphy dug up any new details on the David Petraeus missions to Turkey in March and September of last year. As I noted in my earlier piece, Petraeus was dealing with the issue of moving weapons to jihadist fighters in Syria. He helped turn on the faucet in March and, apparently, was turning it off in September.
I wish Webb and Murphy good luck, but they should know better–you can’t polish a turd.