Author Topic: [Spione and Shahida] Real-life relevance at this very moment  (Read 988 times)

Ron Edwards

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[Spione and Shahida] Real-life relevance at this very moment
« on: November 23, 2012, 02:07:22 AM »
Most of you probably saw the headlines that General David Petraeus has been busted schtupping his biographer, Paula Broadwell, and that he has resigned as head of the CIA.

So what? I will begin with a number of curious observations.

1. Petraeus was due very soon to testify in the matter of the security and related events at the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, especially concerning the various contradictory statements made by different people in the U.S. administration immediately following those events. His replacement as Commander of the U.S. Forces in Afghanistan (and upcoming NATO commander as well), Marine Corps General John Allen, testified instead. It is at least mildly puzzling as to why Petraeus resigned at all - the affair was scurrilous in media terms, but not illegal or even actionable.

One may also well ask what the hell Petraeus was doing as CIA Director in the first place; it's notoriously a dead end in career terms, especially if that career was military. (George H. W. Bush, probably the single person who did go on to success in politics after his CIA tenure, was not military and he was CIA Director for less than a year.) Note that his much-touted replacement in Afghanistant, Stanley McChrystal, had been canned by the Obama administration following a candid interview with Rolling Stone; note as well that Republicans had not even pretended to hide their grooming of Petraeus for a possible run at the White House in another election or too. Petraeus' relationship with the Obama White House is clearly fraught in ways unknown to us, especially since the president's politically important claim to being a bad-ass relies heavily on his association with Petraeus, despite the latter clearly being an ineffective, posing peacock, which no one seems to notice.

2. The expose concerning the affair was brought to public attention in a curious way: an FBI officer saw fit to notify a Republican congressmen, Dave Reichert, who advised him to inform Eric Cantor, current House Majority Leader. This is completely outside the ordinary course of FBI investigations, which should proceed up the line through the Department of Justice and if justified into ordinary steps of prosecution; the officer's action is even arguably past the point of a leak and itself a breach of security. Significantly, the affair itself is of no possible interest to an FBI investigation - apparently the real investigation concerned Broadwell's access to Petraeus' email, and furthermore, that FBI investigators had (i) already confronted Petraeus and (ii) declined to take the matter further, suggesting there was no case to be made concerning a security breach.

3. The expose might have been worth some political capital to the Republican Party prior to the recent presidential election, or more importantly, might have been perceived to be so at the time, considering that just about everybody was incorrectly thinking of the election as a close race. So the next question is why the officer - assuming he had some animus or desire to sink Obama through Petraeus - did not get his message across earlier.

Now for an interesting second layer of observations and contexts.

1. The FBI officer's name is Frederick W. Humphries II (I love spook details; you can't make this shit up), stationed at the FBI Tampa Field Office. By all accounts, he is a right-wing fanatic. Note as well his interesting history: in 1999, he was instrumental in the conviction of an Algerian, Ahmed Ressam, in the latter's (as judged) plot to blow up LAX; more recently, he twice arrested and testified unsuccessfully against Muslim American Youssef Megahed in what appears to be a vendetta. Carefully-worded statements about his "worldview" reveal an attitude that seems consistent with the Ashcroft administration at the DOJ. About his fatal shooting of a former U.S. Army Ranger who apparently threatened him and security guards with a knife in 2010 near the MacDill base gates, I shall say nothing; its civic prosecution was declined and the internal FBI investigation stated the shooting was justified.

The history of the investigation into Broadwell's emails is a murkier than it sounded at first. Apparently someone named Jill Kelley contacted Humphries claiming Broadwell was threatening her via email. This may make you pause. People threaten each other a thousand times a day, in phone calls or emails or whatever. And who simply dials up an FBI agent, personally, and puts him on the case on the basis of "gee I'm so scared?" Incidentally, Humphries was excluded from the investigation he apparently instigated because he was obsessed with it (this is from unnamed "officials"), so his access to its current content and his use of that content becomes especially curious, as in, why is this man not in handcuffs?

Lawrence Berger, the FBI general consul, has stated to reporters that Humphries followed protocol with the information and is not a whistle-blower, which is manifestly untrue, and interestingly, preceded by the statement that he, Berger, would "decline to comment" on the propriety involved. I read this as a signal that whatever he said after that statement, since it wasn't a "comment" and therefore immune to being cited as an official statement, was free to be utter and complete horse shit.

2. Jill Kelley is a Tampa socialite, or rather, a woman who married a surgeon, bought an extravagant home near MacDill Air Force Base, and set herself to throwing immense parties for all politicos and military people there for several years. Somehow or other she gained the titles "ambassador to the U.S. Central Command's coalition," whatever that is, and "honorary consul," apparently via the government of South Korea, and until recent events enjoyed considerable security privileges at the base. Despite these credentials being identified as essentially fictitious and the clearance revoked, Kelley has repeatedly called 9-1-1 regarding the mobs of reporters outside her house to insist upon "diplomatic protection."

These parties are interesting in a dog-not-barking way. The only information comes from an unnamed military source who talks about how much food would be available at them - which itself is bizarre; these are people for whom the availability of food would be of absolutely zero interest. I read it as "I will tell you nothing whatsoever about these parties but you can print this crap if you like, so people will go away saying something."

Furthermore, Kelley appears to have bitten off more than she can chew, as she is now the subject of a whole cyber-investigation of her own, specifically that she and General John Allen (remember him? See above) have exchanged thousands of pages of emails in the past year. Not thousands of emails, itself hard itself to imagine, but thousands of pages of them. This investigation is open so information is sketchy - one spokesman claimed most unconvincingly that there was no evidence of sexual interaction between Allen and Broadwell (unconvincing because he also said they were still sifting through them); other sources claim the emails include "flirtatious" content. Currently, Allen is no longer in consideration for the high offices he was set to occupy prior to this investigation.

Oh yes, and apparently Humphries' own extensive email interaction with Kelley includes an attached claw-my-eyes-out JPEG of the 40s, balding, Uncle Fester eyed FBI officer posing with his shirt off. This woman does a lot of emailing. Berger the lawyer, by the way, insists the photo was a joke, merely an indicator of the long-standing close social relationship between the Humphries (he is married) and Kelley. Berger probably brushes his teeth with bleach. Long-standing close social relationship? Which means Kelley instigated a bona fide FBI investigation strictly through a friendship with someone in the Bureau - not something just anyone can do, right?

3. "Kelley" is Jill's married surname. Her maiden name is Khawam, and "Jill" is her current presentation of her given name Gilberte; she is Lebanese-American, born in Beirut to Maronite Catholic parents just prior to their emigration to the U.S. in 1975. She also has a twin sister, Natalie, who sometimes goes by her ex-married name Wolfe. Natalie is an interesting person. She is divorced and denied custody to her son; the court papers reveal a remarkably clear portrait of a high-functioning sociopath who utterly failed to impress the judge (he determined that she displays "extreme personal deficits in honesty and integrity"), despite - get this - glowing character references provided by none other than Generals David Petraeus and John Allen, both of whom appear to be her personal friends as well as of her sister's.

Wait a minute - so the woman (Jill) that informed Humphries that Broadwell was threatening her via email was already buddies with Petraeus and Allen? Oh yes. It turns out that Jill and Natalie merrily regularly fly in U.S. military planes back and forth to D.C., and that via Allen, Jill has been a guest at the White House at least three times in the past few months, and Natalie at least twice.

Ron Edwards

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Re: [Spione and Shahida] Real-life relevance at this very moment
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2012, 02:07:44 AM »
A closer look at the sisters is informative. After Natalie's divorce and after a string of horrific employment experiences, all of which she was fired from for incompetence and dishonesty, she moved in with her sister Jill (and presumably her husband Scott, the surgeon, whom I'm starting to pity) soon after the latter acquired said mansion, and the two of them have apparently run up millions of dollars in debt ($4.1 million at latest count), including the house being in about nine levels of mortgage disaster, and including a government investigation of some kind of joint company the sisters started.

Did I mention that Jill's former husband, Grayson Wolfe, was an official in the Bush administration working via the Export-Import Bank, instrumental in the so-called Iraq reconstruction and in the intriguingly phrased generalization, "various middle east initiatives?" Did I mention that Jill has also been reported to be active, whatever that means, concerning contact with unnamed middle eastern -- somebodies? (unspecified by the source: national administrations, splinter parties, non-governmental groups, individuals, who knows)

4. Broadwell herself was also treated with considerable deference by military security. Her own background appears remarkably undistinguished until she was able to become something of a moon orbiting Planet Petraeus, in a mutually fame-reinforcing way; her glowing biographies and articles became evidence of his awesomeness and her association with such awesomeness won her extensive political and military access because she was obviously so "serious." Note her gym-fanatic physique; she and David spent a lot of time working out together (remember, this is the guy who barges into barracks and challenges U.S. Army sergeants in one-handed push-up contests).

What's cropped up now regarding her email activities far outweighs the initial threat allegations. (It's provisionally possible to write these off; the Khawam sisters are apparently notorious for screaming at law enforcement to punish people they don't like.) Broadwell and Petraeus evidently used the draft folder in his account to communicate with one another, thus bypassing the "sent" records of email exchanges. Which means Broadwell had direct access to the entire and actual email account of the fucking head of the fucking CIA. All of a sudden, the previous talk that the investigation into the security breach represented by her fucking Petraeus was close seems premature, and raises the question of why the official investigators did not seize Petraeus and Broadwell, cuff them, and send them to -- well, probably not Guantanamo, but at least Leavenworth.

So!

Spione content: if you don't see the extraordinary security compromise represented by the Khawam sisters' socializing (which apparently Petraeus, Allen, and Broadwell were in up to their -- necks), then you ain't looking, and if you think it stops with Petraeus and Allen, then think again; apparently the whole fucking MacDill Base is compromised, which is to say, our entire military operational presence in Afghanistan, Iraq, and parts nearby (cough - Turkey; cough - Iran). Which is to say, these unknown-hanky-panky parties (cough - sex-swap central) have rendered our military like unto cheese of the Swiss extraction. Not to mention some or perhaps a great deal of the FBI.

Shahida content: look, Beirut! If you know anything about the Lebanese political history, then you know that in the 1970s, the collusion among the newly-evolving Likud party in Israel, the ultra right-wing Lebanese party Kata'ib (100% Maronite Catholic to the point of being separatist), and the butt-hurt survivors of the Nixon administration (e.g.. Cheney, Rumsfeld) was quite close indeed. We know little about the Khawams (the parents), but I would like to find out more. Lebanese Maronite Catholics in the U.S. and Canada are notable for their political resemblance to Florida Cubans: right-wing, entitled, resentful, and quite generous in supplying agents of influence elsewhere, as well as funds for separatist/domestic-terror groups back home. Maronite Catholics emigrating to the States at this time are especially interesting concerning their gangs engaged in butchering Palestinians in and around Beirut.

As a final point, although clearly the Petraeus-Broadwell hook-up is the absolutely least interesting thing about this, the real world has also provided us with that final cherry-topping of absolute farce which always garnishes the best spy scandals: ABC botches Petraeus book cover.

Best, Ron

Justice Platt

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Re: [Spione and Shahida] Real-life relevance at this very moment
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2012, 04:44:28 PM »
Ron, couple of questions:

1)Didn't Gen P testify re:Benghazi & whatnot on Nov 16? (http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/16/politics/benghazi-hearings/index.html)

2)According to what I've read, P and Broadwell used a gmail account for the "draft" trick.  How does this add up to access to the entire e-mail accounts of the head of the CIA? (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/9674067/Petraeus-and-lover-used-al-Qaeda-email-tricks-to-keep-affair-secret.html)

Which just sounds like nitpicky snark, I know.  The bigger point is that I'm curious as to what the import, in your mind, of especially the testimony thing is.  I assume you're not all the way into Limbaugh-esque conspiracy theories on Benghazi, but I can't really find a reason for the administration to care about his specific testimony beyond that.  Getting rid of the guy on other grounds is, of course, a whole nother thing. 

I'm just not seeing the sinister in your scenario-I'm seeing more of a Burn Before Reading type clusterfuck plus glimpse into the lives of people who know people.

Justice Platt

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Re: [Spione and Shahida] Real-life relevance at this very moment
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2012, 04:47:26 PM »
But, oooh!  Amusing:  Jill Kelley gets medal for party hosting! (from Gen P himself, natch:http://www.newser.com/story/158068/woman-in-petraeus-scandal-got-medal-for-party-hosting.html)

Ron Edwards

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Re: [Spione and Shahida] Real-life relevance at this very moment
« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2012, 07:04:41 PM »
Hi Justice,

Both of the nitpicks are correct; my post was based on earlier accounts which have been clarified since then. However, it wouldn't surprise me if Petraeus' actual official emails were being inspected with microscopic care even as we speak.

I don't know if you're familiar with Spione. In it, I'm pretty blunt about saying most/any conspiracies which presume competent, directed manipulation are crap, because the BBR-clusterfuck* is far more likely and historically verified. So my take on the current events is definitely along these lines ... although if a real-for-reals security check were to be run on the sisters and their various acquaintances, I would not be surprised if a whole constellation of minor breaches would be discovered, along the lines of "I'll pay for you to snort coke off this escort's ass if you occasionally let me know what y'all chatted about in the last committee meeting." Which is what the vast majority of spying amounts to, merely facilitating someone's vice in order for them to be a little more casual in their shop-talk with you.

Best, Ron

* as good an acronym as any!

Miskatonic

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Re: [Spione and Shahida] Real-life relevance at this very moment
« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2012, 04:26:33 PM »
Good stuff. I mean, it makes me sad about the state of the press in reporting this story, but still. I'm enjoying your insights.

So, it turns out that Paul Broadwell's father was my high school history teacher. It's kind of funny.