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.

Strategic Communications Consultant, located in Washington, D.C.