There are key issues that can explain the removal of David Petraeus from his position as the head of the CIA. Not surprisingly, the American intelligence agency usually fights any leader coming from the U.S. Army regardless of his potentials and capabilities. In some cases, they are not fully loyal to him.
Also, there are a number of criticisms leveled against the intelligence agency in the wake of its failure to protect the American Embassy in Libya in which the American ambassador was killed. There was some information that indicated a possible bomb explosion that would target the American Embassy in Libya. In fact, the embassy was considered a regional center for collecting secret files and information. Some secret decisions were taken to protect the embassy. However, Petraeus himself delayed the shifting of the American base to Italy and the result was that the perpetrators succeeded in attacking the embassy and killing three staff members as well as the ambassador.
The delay by Petraeus was seen as an attempt on his part to stir the American public opinion against President Obama for the benefit of the Republican nominee. The CIA received a piece of information that an Islamist group was planning to attack American diplomatic missions as a revenge for the killing of Abu Yehya Al Libi, a senior Libyan member of Al-Qaeda.
Additionally, the American ambassador prevented Abdelhakim Balhadj from assuming the portfolio of defense or interior in Libya. This created the conditions for revenge. This begs many questions about the position of the CIA with regard to this information. In addition, Mitt Romney tried to point out Petraeus’ inaction to protect the American embassy in Libya. In his comment on Obama’s foreign policy, Romney said that the president’s policies in the Middle East had started with a tour of apology and had been based on a strategy of leading from behind. He added that this strategy had run aground.
As far as the sex scandal is concerned, it is evident that the FBI used it to bring Petraeus down. He was projected as a man visited by good-looking women who can extract some secret information. Additionally, the sex scandal was aimed at covering the internal weakness that CIA has been experiencing. As Washington is unwilling to admit this weakness, it sought to take revenge from Petraeus because he made the CIA play a part in the party conflict in America. His turning a blind eye to valuable information that could have prevented the attack on the American Embassy in Libya was not received well by the U.S. administration.
The above narrative is vindicated by the statements of a French expert on Middle East Arthur Kinsay who serves as a political scientist at Sorbonne University in Paris. He argued that the United States had information about the possible attack and it failed to preempt it.
At the professional level, Petraeus made a mistake when he announced the existence of a secret plan to set up some military bases in the Middle East and to carry out drone attacks in some regions in the Horn of Africa. He talked about using Special Forces to carry out some covert operation in the Middle East.
Additionally, Petraeus failed to adopt an analytical system for intelligence because of his selectiveness. He resorted to selective reports that were based on evidence that only supported the vision of the administration. This type of reports warranted extreme capabilities of analysis in security and political domains. This approach affected the flow of information, a situation that resulted in a number of crises as in the case of Libya, alliance with Muslim Brotherhood and Iranian nuclear issue. Needless to mention the cold war between the American and Israeli intelligence agencies especially after the issuance of more than one American reports that address the future of Israel.
Seen in this way, the scandal is not really about an extramarital affair. It should be seen within the context of the hidden dispute between the Republican and Democratic parties as well as the internal weakness of the CIA itself. The speed with which Petraeus resigned and the involvement of the American commander in Afghanistan Gen. John Allen reflected the internal competition and the big influence of the FBI. Some unconfirmed reports point to Petraeus’ mistress. She might have been contacted by the Iranian intelligence. She used to receive information about Iran, Syria and the Middle East from the Iranian intelligence through a family relative. Two weeks ago, the Israeli politician, Tzipi Livni, said that she had had sexual relationship with two Palestinian leaders with the purpose of gaining information for the Mossad. She said that she had managed to get valuable information. She said that she had recorded these intimate encounters. If anything, this indicates the relationship between sex, espionage and dismissal.
Therefore, the questions raised by Petraeus aides are well placed. How could such illegitimate relationship take place? How could Petraeus do that? How could a man with such experience fall in this way? Who pushed him to treat his mistress in such a special way and how could he give her a private house in the headquarters of the American forces and NATO in Afghanistan? Why the FBI remembered that today? Well, Petraeus used to feel the intimacy in the military institution but not in the intelligence agency. The way he was received by the CIA was indicative of the fact that they did not welcome him.
Interestingly, the FBI managed to decipher the secret relationship. The FBI was astonished by the leakage of top confidential data and therefore it followed up by including senior personalities in the CIA. The FBI found out that the mistress of Petraeus had managed to get a secret code for one of Petraeus’ mailbox. This begs the questions whether his mistress has another face as well. The answer is ask Tzipi Livni who said that her heart was designed to serve Israel.
This article was published on the Saudi-based Arab News on Nov. 17, 2012.