The Corner

Was Petraeus Taken Out by a CIA Palace Coup?


A shocking new book makes dramatic claims about the motives behind the 9/11 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that left Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans dead. It also claims former CIA director David Petraeus was the victim of an internal coup by some of his deputies and bodyguards, who arranged for his extramarital affair to be investigated by the FBI, a highly unusual course of action.

The book, Benghzai: The Definitive Report, was written by Brandon Webb, a retired Navy SEAL, and Jack Murphy, a retired Green Beret. The two are editors of, a site devoted to news and stories written by current and former special-operations commandos.

According to a preview of the book in Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper:

The September 11 Benghazi terrorist attack that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, was retaliation by Islamist militants who had been targeted by covert U.S. military operations.

The book claims that neither Stevens nor even Petraeus knew about the raids by American special operations troops, which had ‘kicked a hornet’s nest’ among the heavily-armed fighters after the overthrow of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser, had been authorizing ‘unilateral operations in North Africa outside of the traditional command structure,’ according to the e-book. Brennan is Obama’s pick to replace Petraeus as head of the CIA.

If true, much would be explained about why the Benghazi consulate was targeted and why the administration has been so anxious to avoid congressional and media scrutiny of the first assassination of a U.S. ambassador in over 30 years.

The book’s authors also claim that:

Senior CIA officers targeted Petraeus [for exposure] because they didn’t like the way he was running the agency — focusing more on paramilitary operations than intelligence analysis. They used their political clout and their connections to force an FBI investigation of his affair with Paul Broadwell and make it public . . .

“It was high-level career officers on the CIA who got the ball rolling on the investigation. It was basically a palace coupe to get Petraeus out of there,’ Jack Murphy, one of the authors, told MailOnline. . . .

“It was well known to Petraeus’s Personal Security Detachment (bodyguards) that he and Broadwell were having an affair. He wasn’t the only high-ranking Agency head or general engaged in extramarital relations, but when the 7th floor wanted Petraeus out, they cashed in their chips,” Webb and Murphy write. . . .

“It’s almost like they wanted him not just to resign but that they wanted him kicked out of the political game for at least a number of years,” Murphy told MailOnline. . . .

The authors say that Kelley’s report may have started in the FBI investigation — but CIA officers pressured the Justice Department to keep the inquiry open. . . .

Petraeus was furious, they say, because he was kept in the dark about the raids being conducted without his knowledge by the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) across Libya and North Africa.

Webb and Murphy claim that the September 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate and a CIA outpost in Benghazi proved to Petraeus that he was an outsider in the Obama administration and that he would remain marginalized as long as he was at the CIA.

A lot of fact-checking will have to be done to substantiate the claims by Webb and Murphy. But from my own reporting, I have learned that no one runs afoul of senior CIA officials — or John Brennan — lightly or without peril. CIA officials angry at the Bush administration’s treatment of the agency in 2006 helped elevate the Valerie Plame affair into a national scandal and crippled much of the White House’s ability to conduct foreign policy. In the end, there was precious little evidence of any real security breach or wrongdoing beyond a perjury conviction of Scooter Libby, a top aide to Vice President Cheney. 


The Latest