A week before the election, an FBI whistleblower went to a Republican member of Congress with explosive details about a national security scandal that could have stopped President Obama’s re-election campaign dead in its tracks. But the potentially devastating “October Surprise” was hushed up by Republicans.
Although all the details are not yet available and new disclosures are coming every day, it appears that the scandal involves the CIA director leaking classified information to his mistress and the FBI not holding David Petraeus accountable for his immoral and illegal conduct. In short, it is the worst scandal of the Obama Administration and makes the third-rate burglary in the Watergate scandal look minor by comparison.
Despite the explosive nature of the allegations, two Republican members of Congress, Dave Reichert and Eric Cantor, decided to pass on the information to the FBI director and take no action themselves. They didn’t even inform their colleagues on the House Intelligence Committee or in the House leadership. It was a terrible mistake on their part that enabled Obama to escape the damaging repercussions of the scandal right before what many conservatives called the most important presidential election of our lifetimes.
Major news personalities now seem to be in a rush to play down the scandal even more. Suzanne Kelly, CNN’s Intelligence Correspondent based in Washington, D.C., said on Monday, “It is not illegal to have an affair,” in regard to Petraeus admitting one. The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer wrote, “Within the military, there are rules about adultery. But within civilian life, should there be?”
Retired Army Maj. Glenn MacDonald, editor-in-chief of MilitaryCorruption.com, told Accuracy in Media, “While Petraeus is a retired Army general and a civilian, most recently director of the CIA, he is still subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). According to regulations, if an officer is drawing retired pay, they can be called back on active duty to face charges at court-martial. Since adultery is a crime in the military, it is possible, although unlikely, that General Petraeus could face legal action.”
He added, “If he was charged, my guess is he would pay a fine and perhaps be reduced in rank one grade. Barring a finding of treason or leaking secrets, it is my educated guess Petraeus would not do any jail time."
The leaking of secrets, however, has now become the subject of several news reports, with claims of classified information on his mistress Paula Broadwell’s computer. Broadwell herself publicly gave information about the attack in Libya that appears to be classified. What’s more, The New York Times reports that FBI agents went to Broadwell’s home on Monday night “and were seen carrying away what several reporters at the scene said were boxes of documents.” The Washington Post reports that a senior law enforcement official said the agents were searching for any classified or sensitive documents that may have been in Broadwell’s possession.
Because of Cantor’s failure to go public, the scandal exploded only after the election, as Petraeus submitted his resignation as CIA director and Obama accepted it. “I would like to congratulate President Obama on his re-election,” Cantor had actually said on his blog, knowing that Obama’s administration was engaged in a massive cover-up. Only later did he acknowledge, in response to a New York Times report, that he had the information that could have derailed Obama’s presidential campaign and possibly given Mitt Romney the presidency.
Cantor, the House Majority Leader, had produced an 8,000-word report on October 23 assailing Obama for instituting an imperial presidency. He and his colleagues had been extremely critical of Obama’s management of U.S. foreign policy, suggesting that the war on terrorism had been badly mishandled and that the administration was covering up what really happened when four Americans were killed in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11. Petraeus was right in the middle of this scandal and was scheduled to testify before Congress about it.
It was in this context that a whistleblower approached Reichert and then Cantor with information about the FBI cover-up of the CIA director’s activities. The whistleblower undoubtedly thought that the Republicans would take the information and act on it, exposing the high-level cover-up before the presidential election. Instead, Cantor was content to let FBI Director Robert Mueller, who was re-appointed by Obama, handle the investigation.
But Cantor knew at that point, because of what the whistleblower had told him, that Mueller had not informed Congress about the probe and was failing to hold Petraeus accountable for his affair and the handling of the classified information. So turning the information over to Mueller was the equivalent of muzzling the whistleblower.
“On Saturday, Oct. 27, Cantor spoke by phone to an FBI employee who told him about an investigation, including the details about Petraeus’ affair, and said he was concerned that classified information had been compromised,” reported Jonathan Karl of ABC News. The FBI employee first contacted Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), who then put the employee in touch with Cantor, Karl added. Notice the reference to “details about Petraeus’ affair.”
The revelation of Republicans being in possession of advance detailed knowledge of the scandal was first disclosed by The New York Times, which reported, “…the F.B.I. agent who had helped get a preliminary inquiry started, and learned of Mr. Petraeus’s affair and the initial concerns about security breaches, became frustrated.” It is clear that that he went to Congress out of frustration with the failure of the FBI to go after Petraeus and his mistress.
Cantor’s official statement was, “I was contacted by an F.B.I. employee concerned that sensitive, classified information may have been compromised and made certain Director Mueller was aware of these serious allegations and the potential risk to our national security.” (Emphasis added)
The FBI, of course, was completely aware of these “serious allegations” all along. The FBI knew about the scandal but was not acting on it, which is why the whistleblower went to Reichert and Cantor in the first place.
By going to Mueller, Cantor put the FBI whistleblower’s career in jeopardy. This helps explain why the whistleblower is fast becoming the subject of various negative news reports about his personal life. He trusted the Republicans and they failed him.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.