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Was General David Petraeus Targeted for Take-down by the Military?

New documents reveal that there's far more to the Petraeus sex scandal than meets the eye.

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By the date of these 2010 dinners, Broadwell had known Petraeus for four years—and had been working closely with him on his biography since the previous year. She says she first met him in the spring of 2006, when she was a graduate student at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and asked if she could write his biography. She began work on the biography in 2009 when he headed CENTCOM, the US Central Command. With the biography as her justification, she followed him to Afghanistan where he led the US forces.

Thus, if Stratfor’s Yemeni diplomat source is correct, and the woman was Broadwell, an attractive military intelligence reserve officer was far more deeply entwined than previously known with a controversial, fast-climbing figure at the center of some of America’s and the world’s hottest disputes—at the risk of compromising him and his future.

Stratfor’s Source: a Yemeni diplomat based in DC

Mohammed al-Basha, press attaché for the Yemen embassy in Washington DC, is one of Stratfor’s informants, referred to by DC-based Stratfor analyst Reva Bhalla as her “Yemeni diplomatic source.”

In an interview with us, al-Basha confirmed that Petraeus dined with Abdulwahab al-Hajri at the former ambassador’s house in DC for “an event or a party” while Petraeus was head of CENTCOM. Petraeus was CENTCOM commander from October 31, 2008 until July 18, 2011— which is within the scope of the Stratfor emails and before the dates Nagl and Boylan give for the start of the affair.

Al-Basha told WhoWhatWhy he had “no idea” whether Paula Broadwell attended a dinner with Petraeus and the Yemeni ambassador. “I have no idea. No, no, I have no idea,” he said. “That’s the first I’ve heard this.” He then denied being Stratfor’s source.

However, there are at least one hundred and twenty emails between the Yemen embassy’s al-Basha and Stratfor’s analyst Bhalla in the WikiLeaks cache; many consist of al-Basha answering her questions. In  Email-ID 81508, sent January 15, 2010, Bhalla and al-Basha discuss Yemen’s terms for surrendering American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki; al-Basha tells Bhalla he is “not sure about the terms… I will assume a fair prosecution can be part of the plea”; in  Email-ID 1098283, sent the same day, Bhalla forwards his exact words to other Stratfor analysts, telling them they came from her “Yemeni diplomatic source.”

In Email-ID 90306, sent February 5, 2010, Stratfor Watch Officer Michael Wilson tells the firm about a champagne party where he learned that Petraeus brought an intriguing woman to a dinner with al-Hajri. The email states that a Stratfor source, a “Yemeni diplomat based in DC” and handled by Bhalla, provided the information. Unless Stratfor has multiple Yemeni diplomat sources in DC handled by Bhalla, that source is al-Basha. Furthermore, the WikiLeaks cache appears to contain no email contacts with any other Yemeni diplomats.

Having acknowledged the Petraeus/al-Hajri dinner, al-Basha nonetheless requested that the event not be reported. Then, in a follow-up email exchange, he cited an unnamed former colleague’s assertion that “the General never came over with his biographer to any of our events public or private.” That statement is constructed in such a way that it does not actually deny Petraeus’s presence at the dinners with a woman who was not his wife, or even deny that the woman was Broadwell. Technically, it only excludes a scenario in which Petraeus arrived with Broadwell. We were unable to clarify further because repeated requests that al-Basha identify the former colleague went unanswered.

Why Champagne Hangovers Suck

Email-ID 90306 (with the droll subject line “Re: INSIGHT – YEMEN – why champagne hangovers suck”) contains Wilson’s report of “a hectic, late night” meeting occasioned by Abdulaziz bin Fahd, a son of Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, former king of Saudi Arabia, challenging “everyone to a champagne bottle drinking contest.”

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