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Gen. David Petraeus biographer Paula Broadwell is making headlines for having an affair with the former Central Intelligence Agency head. While questions are swirling around purportedly threatening emails that Broadwell sent to another woman, a friend of the Petraeus family named Jill Kelley, more profound curiosities surround whether the writer revealed classified information in a recent speech she delivered at the University of Denver.
Considering her close relationship with Petraeus, it is entirely possible that Broadwell was exposed to a great deal of highly-classified material. In an October 26 speech at the university, which is her alma mater, she was asked about how Petraeus handled the now-infamous attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11. Her response was fascinating and potentially problematic, as it may have contained sensitive information about part of the motivation behind the terrorist attack.
In this Jan. 15, 2012 photo, Paula Broadwell, author of the David Petraeus biography "All In," poses for photos in Charlotte, N.C. Credit: AP
Broadwell told her audience that media reports have indicated that the CIA annex, a separate building from the consulate, was seeking reinforcements in Libya that fateful night. While this piece of information had already been widely reported, other details about alleged Libyan militia members being held prisoner and serving as a potential catalyst for the attack had not yet been.
"Now, I don't know if a lot of you heard this, but 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," she said during her address. "So that's still being vetted."
Watch video of these comments from her speech, below:
On October 26, Fox News reported that CIA officials in Benghazi had transferred three militia members to Libyan authorities on the morning of September 12, however there was no mention at the time that these men were prisoners and may have been part of the reasoning behind the attack. On Monday, though, following revelations of Broadwell's potential leak of classified information, Fox News reported:
A well-placed Washington source confirms to Fox that there were Libyan militiamen being held at the CIA annex in Benghazi and that their presence was being looked at as a possible motive for the staged attack on the Consulate and Annex that night.
According to multiple intelligence sources who have served in Benghazi, there were more than just Libyan militia members who were held and interrogated by CIA contractors at the CIA Annex in the days prior to the attack. Other prisoners from additional countries in Africa and the Middle East were brought to this location.
The Libya Annex was the largest CIA station in North Africa, and two weeks prior to the attack, the CIA was preparing to shut it down. Most prisoners, according to British and American intelligence sources, had been moved two weeks earlier.
The CIA subsequently denied these detention allegations, claiming that they are baseless and that the agency has not had the ability to hold prisoners in such a form since January 2009.
Considering that Broadwell told her university audience that Petraeus knew almost immediately that the Benghazi situation was a terror attack -- one potentially waged to help free the Libyans being held -- there are a variety of questions to consider.
Aside from figuring out whether the author exposed classified details, another quest may be to explore why, if the aforementioned details are true, Petraeus testified in a closed session of Congress that Benghazi was a spontaneous attack spawned by an anti-Islam film.
In addition to the controversial, potentially-sensitive material, IsraelNationalNews.com has more of Broadwell's statements that were issued during the University of Denver address:
"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." [...]
"If you remember at the time, the Muslim video, the Mohammed video that came out, the demonstrations that were going on in Cairo, there were demonstrations in 22 other countries around the world, tens of thousands of people, and our government was very concerned that this was going to become a nightmare for us," she said.
"So you can understand if you put yourselves in his shoes or Secretary Clinton's shoes or the President's shoes, that we thought it was tied somehow to the demonstrations in Cairo. And it's true that we have signal intelligence that shows the militia members in Libya were watching the demonstration in Cairo, and it did sort of galvanize their effort. So we'll find out the facts soon enough.
"As a former intel officer it's frustrating to me because it reveals our sources and methods, I don't think the public necessarily needs to know all of that. It is a tragedy that we lost an ambassador and two other government officials, and [...] there was a failure in the system because there was additional security requested, but it's frustrating to see the sort of political aspect of what's going on with this whole investigation."
Watch the speech in its entirety (potentially problematic section surrounding alleged cause of the attack can be found at 34:45):
Aside from the notion that Broadwell may have divulged sensitive information, a curious detail is released in the Fox News report. While family friends contend that Holly Petraeus had likely known about the affair, the FBI allegedly also knew about it as well.
"The FBI reportedly knew about it months beforehand and White House Counterterrorism advisor John Brennan reportedly was aware that there was a relationship in the summer of 2011," Fox News reports.
This account is intriguing, seeing as one former aide told reporters that the affair didn't start until two months after Petraeus became CIA director. If this latter account is true, Brennan couldn't have known in the summer of 2011 (Petraeus took the job in September). But if it is validated, then the information was already known by the administration before the former general took the job.
Read the entire Fox report here.
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