MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT Seal of the FBI
Yesterday, BuzzFlash at Truthout laid out the case that Eric Cantor was likely attempting a longshot last minute effort to tip the election for Romney when he contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director at the behest of a rogue FBI agent. We noted that Cantor was assisting an agent in undermining the agent's chain of command in doing so, based on the agent's charges of anonymous harassing e-mails being sent to a woman who he was sending shirtless photos of himself to.
In fact, we noted that the FBI found the behavior of the agent who Cantor championed so inappropriate that they ordered him to cease and desist from involvement in the investigation and is currently conducting an inquiry into his actions. The agent, furthermore, had no cybersecurity expertise and normally would have had little or no role in the investigation, except that he appeared to have an apparent yen for Jill Kelley and dislike of President Obama that an anonymous FBI spokesman has termed "obsessive." The latter he obviously shared with Eric Cantor.
In the ongoing unfolding of this salacious tale, it is worthy to note information that the Wall Street Journal (owned by Rupert Murdoch) in an article today (November 14):
On Tuesday, people familiar with the case said that at one point in the summer, after the investigation began pointing to larger potential national security issues, Ms. Kelley tried to get the FBI to drop the matter. The people said she made the request because she was worried about the personal information being provided to investigators.
Ms. Kelley, a 37-year-old volunteer who organized social events for military personnel, developed misgivings after friends in her Tampa social circle urged her to drop the matter, saying the probe would only cause bigger problems, the people familiar with the case said.
Ms. Kelley's apparent regret points to one of the more unusual aspects of the case: what began as a seemingly minor case of cyberstalking mushroomed into fears that the Central Intelligence Agency director's personal email account had been hacked, which spawned concerns the CIA director might have passed sensitive information to his mistress. Each of those fears ultimately proved unfounded, U.S. officials familiar with the probe said. But the investigation eventually exposed Mr. Petraeus's relationship with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, leading to his resignation, according to U.S. officials familiar with the probe.
In short, by the time Cantor had applied pressure to the FBI on Halloween, Jill Kelley, the original complainant â€“ who the shirtless photo FBI agent (under FBI investigation for his actions) was allegedly championing â€“ had allegedly sought to withdraw her charges, but by then the horse was out of the barn.
As for the original charges of harassing e-mails by Jill Kelley, were a US citizen without connections to lodge such a complaint to the FBI, it is highly doubtful that one would get past the reception desk. In fact, it is highly probable that even a local police station would not pursue the matter. At this time, the FBI is not disclosing nor implying that any laws were broken.
This leads to what may have been perceived by Cantor, through cutthroat political instinct or conversations with GOP national campaign advisors, as an opportunity to redirect media coverage from Hurricane Sandy and an improving economy in the last seven days of the campaign.
For the last 2-3 weeks prior to Election Day, FOX focused heavily on a Romney line of attack that had fallen off the front pages: Obama had failed to protect US lives in Benghazi. Never mind the hypocrisy of Republicans talking about keeping Americans from dying after Bush's failure, despite warnings, to stop the 9/11 attack and the thousands upon thousands of deaths in the Iraq/Afghanistan wars. A key prong of the Romney strategy was to bog Obama down in media discussion of the Benghazi attack â€“ and keep him on the defensive. But it wasn't working. FOX appeared to be in an alternative universe as it downplayed the devastation of Hurricane Sandy and kept up a relentless obsession with Benghazi.
In fact, a comment that Paula Broadwell made in a speech that the CIA was holding prisoners in the US Benghazi building was also mentioned on FOX News.
The Wall Street Journal notes:
In a separate twist in the tangled matter of Mr. Petraeus's resignation, the CIA disputed a theory advanced by Ms. Broadwell that insurgents may have attacked the U.S. consulate and a CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11 in a bid to free militants being held there by the agency. Ms. Broadwell suggested that rationale for the consulate attack in an address at the University of Denver on Oct. 26.
"I don't know if a lot of you had heard this, but the CIA annex had actually taken a couple of Libyan militia members prisoner and they think the attack on the consulate was an attempt to get these prisoners back," she said then. "It's still being vetted."â€¦
In addition, the source of her comment may not have been intelligence information, but news reports. Earlier in her address, she cited findings of a report that day by Fox News. Immediately after, she mentioned the possibility that the CIA had held militants at the site, which the Fox report also mentioned.
The Sept. 11 consulate attack resulted in the deaths of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. One person briefed on US intelligence said that reports focused on two main motives for the attack: inspiration from the violent protest that day at the U.S. embassy in Cairo, and the exhortation of al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri to avenge the death of his second in command. The possibility of attackers trying to free detainees never came up, this person said.
This week, lawmakers are slated to receive a series of closed-door briefings on both Benghazi and the FBI investigation that turned up the affair between Mr. Petraeus and Ms. Broadwell. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has one such briefing on Benghazi scheduled Tuesday. On Wednesday, leaders of the House intelligence committeeâ€”Rep. Michael Rogers, a Michigan Republican who chairs the panel and Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, the top Democratâ€”will be briefed by FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce and acting CIA director Michael Morell.
If the FBI Petraeus investigation that started with an issue of "harassing e-mails" had become the fodder of the mainstream media prior to the election, it would have likely led, as some analysts have pointed out, to the Romney campaign and Republicans citing Petraeus's resignation (if it had been forced to occur prior to November 6) as a cover for alleged CIA bungling in Benghazi.
That might have shifted the focus of the last week of the election from Obama's enhanced presidential stature during the ruinous Hurricane Sandy and the positive jobs report to a focus on four deaths in Libya.
It is hard to think that this was not a goal of Cantor when he chose to bring up a grudge â€“ with such potentially explosive electoral implications -- held by an FBI agent he did not even know to the head of the FBI, just days before the presidential election.