Secret prisons or secret lovers – what’s more important?

A major story has broken in the US.

Though the following story had started to break, the gathering storm is no longer this: The CIA, under the leadership of General David Patraeus, may have defied a directive from President Obama to close down secret prisons, opting instead to maintain the practice and extending it to Benghazi, Libya.

The suggestion of the secret prison operation’s continuation has come from someone not easily dismissed as uninformed. The source, Paula Broadwell, has more than an intimate familiarity with outgoing CIA Chief, General Patraeus. Broadwell, in addition to writing Patraeus’ “official biography” has, it has subsequenty transpired, been liaising as his secret lover too.

Speaking at the University of Denver, Broadwell ignited an epic furor with this claim:

“I don’t know if a lot of you have heard this, but the CIA annex had actually 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,”

Explosvive stuff. And yet tuning in to this evening’s cable news shows I find the building furor has disappeared – or rather been displaced by another altogether more intoxicating brouhaha.

What story, I trust you’ll ask, could possibly be more compelling, shocking and potentially devastating for many senior players in Washington than the alleged existence of secret CIA prisons, including one in – of all places – Benghazi, Libya; one that may provide the most relevant explanation for the Sept 11, 2012 attack that ended with the killing of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans before dominanting days of the US Presidential election with the question “what happened?”?

What story can have supplanted the suggestion that General Patraeus may be been operating secret prisons, in defiance of a Presidential directive, and doing so in Benghazi, Libya?

Here’s tonight’s headline from MSNBC’s “Hardball

Epic Scandal: General Patraeus implicated in secret Libyan prison operation.

Yeah right. Here’s the actual headline on the questionably-named Hardball:

“The Young and the Shirtless”

…a convoluted Daily Mail-style wallowing in the ‘he said-she said’ gossip usefully surrounding CIA Chief General Petraeus’ apparent marital affair with (prison story source) Broadwell.

With an intrepid, un-distractible, fearless media like this, is it any wonder that:

(a) the CIA’s monumental blunders and failures over (just) the last ten years, including failures around 9/11, failures relating to non-existent WMDs in Iraq, or failures concerning the organization having not the vaguest inkling that almost the entire Middle East was on the verge of full-on revolution, state by state, regime by regime, is not more of a cause of investigation, accountability and national discussion.

And (b) That the MSM is drowning in a credibility crisis while losing out with increasing frequency to “new media”.

While the MSM is content to report on Patraeus this week as though the ‘scandal’ is who he’s shagging rather than who he’s shackling, surely it must be almost as implicated by the existence, if proven true, of illegal and secret prisons as Patraeus himself.

  • tacapall

    First it was Rear Admiral Charles M. Gaouette, commander of a U.S. Navy Carrier Battle Group who was recalled to Washington from the Straits of Hormuz at the end of October and fired.

    Then the FBI probe into the sex scandal that prompted CIA Director David Petraeus to resign

    Now it has expanded to ensnare Gen. John R. Allen, the commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

    Coincidence or purge ?

  • Ruarai

    I just watched about 20 mins on the scandal at the top of PBS. When I say “scandal” I mean this follow-up sex scandal – not the actual scandal about secret prisons.

    Even over at the Guardian the normally hyper-vigilant Glenn Greenwald is more taken with the subplot angle on intercepted lovers’ emails – his interest being how they were intercepted by a rampant surveillance state – and not on the secret prisons.

    Everyone it seems has been swallowed up by the “drama” and “subplots” of the affairs and how they were revealed, i.e. the wrong secret. The story has become one (or been manufactured into one) about individuals not institutions, and about sex rather than serious crime.

    The reporting is unfolding as though taken from a bad Ludlum novel chapter on media dissembling and distraction.

    All the while the question mustn’t go away: Was the CIA (and is past tense even appropriate?) defying the law of the land with the operation of secret prisons, including one in Libya?

    So far the only reason suggested for doubting the allegation of secret prisons, particularly one located in an annex of the Benghazi consulate, is because the accused organization denied it.

    Perhaps once “Congressional oversight committees and the media are done investigating why the FBI investigated the friend of Patraeus’s lover’s perceived rival, they may investigate this. Don’t count on it.

  • Headline from an American “rag”-

    Cloak and shag her.

  • sherdy

    Four years ago Obama promised to close Guantanamo and yet it is still fully operational. So should we be surprised that other torture prisons are in use – with or without his knowledge?

  • Zig70

    If you are going to shackle someone quietly then you can’t leave yourself open to blackmail. Simples.

  • Zig70

    The timing is everything, with added spice of socialites and mad women. How come it isn’t more interesting than flags?

  • Ruarai

    You said it Zig

  • Alias

    Men who betray those closest to them shouldn’t be trusted by strangers to protect their secrets. He should have been dismissed.

  • Zig70

    Guardian has a nice quiz which explores the sub plot a bit

    Can’t help wondering what would have happened if Mitt had have won.