I think I know what David Petraeus is thankful for this week.
Even though it appears the former CIA director lied to the House Intelligence Committee on Sept. 14, and may have lied again to the same committee on Nov. 16, he is starting to slip out of the inner ring of Benghazi cover-up suspects. We are losing sight of his official role in the deception as the media lens ossifies over a tawdry love triangle. For this, he must be thankful. Maybe to ensure the good fortune continues, Petraeus has hired Bob Barnett, the $975-per-hour Washington superlawyer to officials with issues and/or big book deals, to manage what reports call Petraeus' "transition to civilian life."
Here, for the record, is what the media and politicians are letting slip away with him.
After Petraeus appeared before the House Intelligence Committee on Sept. 14 to brief members behind closed doors on the Benghazi attack of Sept. 11, the ranking Democrat on the committee, Maryland Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, gave ABC an account of the briefing.
"In the Benghazi area," Ruppersberger said, "in the beginning we feel that it was spontaneous -- the protest -- because it went on for two or three hours, which is very relevant, because if it was something that was planned, they could have come and attacked right away. At this point, it looks as if there was a spontaneous situation that occurred and that as a result of that, the extreme groups that were probably connected to al-Qaida took advantage of that situation and then the attack started."
Spontaneous protest, unplanned attack: That was Petraeus' testimony as CIA director three days after U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in Benghazi, Libya.
Within 24 hours of the attack, however, the White House and top officials at the State Department, the Pentagon and the intelligence agencies knew that no protest, spontaneous or other, had taken place. They knew the U.S. had been hit on the 9/11 anniversary by a planned attack by al-Qaida affiliates. Ruppersberger's account, then, indicates Petraeus deceived the committee. When committed knowingly, as former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy recently pointed out, such deception is a felony.