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Syrian-Israeli Violence; Latest on Petraeus Resignation

Aired November 13, 2012 - 15:00:00   ET


HALA GORANI, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Hala Gorani, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour in New York.

You would think these men have enough on their plates, what with David Petraeus running the CIA and Gen. John Allen winding down the Afghanistan war. But somehow they each managed to fit in time for extracurricular relationships.


GORANI (voice-over): Petraeus has admitted to an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. And now Gen. Allen has been drawn into the story as well. And here's how.

Paula Broadwell got the whole ball rolling when she wrote infamous, hostile emails to a woman named Jill Kelley. Jill Kelley is a military volunteer in Tampa and a friend of both men. Broadwell saw her reportedly as a potential rival for Petraeus' affections.

And here's a look at who we're talking about, that is Petraeus, second from left; Jill Kelley, second from right and then Ms. Petraeus, Holly on the far right.


GORANI: Now here's where it became complicated, because there are allegations of potentially inappropriate communications between Jill Kelley, who you see here, and Gen. John Allen. The FBI has been investigating the whole affair -- pun intended, if you will -- since the summer.

Now the Defense secretary has ordered a Pentagon investigation and congressional leaders have called for an investigation as well.

The key question is, is this all just "High School Musical" on the Potomac? No big deal; people's private lives. Or did one or both of these men breach national security in the course of these relationships?

We'll talk about that in a moment with our guests. But first, here's what's happening later in the program.


GORANI (voice-over): The nightmare scenario continues, Syria's bloodshed spills into the Golan. Is it an accident or an act of war?

And in life, Yasser Arafat was a hero to some and a villain to others. In death, he's even more of a mystery.


GORANI: Well, we'll get to that in a bit. But first, to help us understand the latest in this tangled web of relationships among top U.S. officials is "Newsweek" magazine national security correspondent Eli Lake.

Eli, thank you for joining me.

First, I want to ask you about the -- you know, how does an FBI investigation into a potentially inappropriate relationship between the CIA director and a woman, such as Paula Broadwell, unfold? What are the mechanics of all of this?

ELI LAKE, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, "NEWSWEEK": Well, what we know is that sometime in March or April, there was originally a complaint, I guess, that was cyber-harassment between now-suspect-to-be Paula Broadwell emailing to this woman, Jill Kelley.

At that point, there is an investigation. But there's also discussions of a potential counterintelligence investigation from the following perspective: as the FBI uncovers what was an undisclosed affair between Broadwell and Petraeus the concern is could that have been used by a foreign intelligence service then to blackmail Petraeus into getting him into a position to do --


GORANI: But --

LAKE: -- (inaudible) they would like.

GORANI: -- but has that been determined already, this investigation has been going on for weeks, if not months?

LAKE: Well, when the FBI went to Petraeus with the information, he didn't try to hide it. He did disclose it. The question is was he required to disclose this at some point? I guess in his process as the CIA director.

The second part of this is in the closeness of the relationship, Paula Broadwell -- I'm trying to determine this, but likely did have security clearances. But did information kind of get out to Paula Broadwell in this process that she then disclosed in, you know, inappropriately to the public or to others? That's another element of it, the kind of communication security (ph).

And finally, in the military, adultery is something that you can be demoted for. You can --


GORANI: Right, but he wasn't in the military anymore. He wasn't in the military anymore.

LAKE: That's true.

That's true. And the CIA has had many senior executives in the past who have committed adultery. If it's disclosed, it does not affect their career --

GORANI: So why is this an exception, then, if in the past, CIA officials have had adulterous relationships and they kept their job? Why, because, you know, on CNN International, we got -- we get -- we get a lot of international viewer feedback. And a lot of what I got on my Twitter page, et cetera, was why should he resign over an affair, essentially?

LAKE: Well, there's two schools of thought. One is that as a leader of the intelligence community and because he did not disclose it, Petraeus is held to a higher standard and in that sense he has set a poor moral example and therefore should leave. That's one version of it.

But I suspect that there's a lot more to the story here, and I am uncomfortable kind of speculating at this point or going out with things that I'm not prepared to print. But I think you're going to find out that there is another element of all this.

And keep in mind; it appeared and I can say this because in my new organization, "The Daily Beast" and "Newsweek," Petraeus was prepared to be part of the something that we've got coming up this week, called the hero summit in Washington, D.C. as of Friday, as if everything sort of was going fairly normally.

And then, you know, as -- I'm sorry; last Friday -- and then, you know, we see this week the kind of sudden resignation. Everyone I've talked to said this was sort of -- the resignation was out of the blue.

So it strikes me that he was aware--

GORANI: (Inaudible), yes.

LAKE: -- he was aware the FBI was looking into this affair and didn't think it was something that would destroy his career as a CIA director. Then something happened. And he stepped down after a conversation with Jim Clapper, the director of national intelligence.

GORANI: Right. That's what I was going to bring up, that he essentially, according to reports, hoped to be able to keep his job, keep this affair sort of under wraps, (inaudible).

But let me -- I want to share with our viewers one thing, and that is Paula Broadwell giving a talk at an American university about the Benghazi attack, OK. I want our viewers to listen to this and then I'll get you to react to it in just a moment.


PAULA BROADWELL, PETRAEUS' BIOGRAPHER: The CIA and it had actually had taken a couple of Libyan militia members prisoner. And they think that the attack on the consulate was an effort to try to get these prisoners back. So that's still being vetted.

The challenge thing for Gen. Petraeus is that in his new position, he's not allowed to communicate with the press. So he's known all of this.


GORANI: So what do you make of this, because it almost -- if you listen to it, this is end of October, presumably before Gen. Petraeus was aware of this investigation, right? Am I --


LAKE: At that point, he was aware of the investigation.

GORANI: Well, is -- does that surprise you, then, that Paula Broadwell would go out and appear as though she's acting as his spokesperson on sensitive intelligence matters in Benghazi?

LAKE: I think there's a lot of strong evidence to suggest that, really, until the week of last week, the week of the election, David Petraeus did not think that he was going to have to resign his position as the director of the CIA, and he was also aware of the fact that the FBI was also aware of this affair.

So something had happened between then, because -- and Paula Broadwell seemed to herself not think that this was something that was terribly serious in that regard, and maybe that these are just terrific poker faces, so to speak, and they're going along as if things are normal.

But I've heard that it really wasn't until Thursday evening that people thought something was up, and you started to see that on Thursday, Petraeus did not -- had to -- had to sort of postpone certain meetings. But until then, there was very little indication that he was going to resign.

GORANI: Eli Lake of the "Newsweek," "Daily Beast," thanks very much for joining us on this program with your take on this scandal and what implications this scandal might have. Thanks very much, Eli.

Now turning to journalist Tim Weiner, who knows America's top institutions inside and out. Weiner is author of "Enemies: A History of the FBI." He's also written a highly acclaimed history of the CIA and is currently working on a book about the Department of Defense.

Welcome, Tim.


GORANI: What better person to have in the studio with us here to discuss all of these security and intelligence agencies and their relationships, one with regards (sic) to the other?

First, I want to get your reaction to something Eli said, which is there has to be something more to this story.

WEINER: That is speculation. And there is one core set of facts here. All right? This is a scandal, but it is not about sex. Fornication and adultery are not federal crimes. The scandal is that one FBI agent took the raw reporting in this investigation and delivered it without authorization to a member of Congress, which is how it seeped up.

That's wrong. That is not how the game is played. That is dirty pool.

GORANI: But why did that force the resignation of the CIA director if it is not a crime; he's out of the military by the time allegedly this affair took place in terms of the timeline? Why then?

WEINER: As a French general once said, it was worse than a crime. It was a blunder.

This is embarrassing. And Gen. Petraeus is a man whose greatest love may be himself. He's got a big ego. And this is humiliating. It's embarrassing and he didn't want to stay in the limelight. I think the simple --


GORANI: So you're saying that he wasn't -- James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, didn't tell him, look, something else is going to come out of this; it's going to be a bigger scandal. Step aside now that you have an opportunity while it's just a sex story?

WEINER: We don't know that. What we do know is we're human beings, is that this is intensely embarrassing. Got your biographer, who wrote a very fawning, adoring biography be exposed as your lover and, you know, this man is -- was a four-star general. And he may hold himself to the military Code of Conduct, which is outside the laws of the United States in which adultery is a punishable offense

GORANI: Yes. Let's talk about -- right. But let's talk about potentially and just so that we're clear, the head of forces, international forces in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen is saying he did nothing wrong. But now he's dragged into all of this.

WEINER: Well, it's a downward spiral.

GORANI: Because of potentially inappropriate communication with --


WEINER: (Inaudible) nothing to do with the national security of the United States.

It has nothing to do with intelligence.

GORANI: Right. OK.

WEINER: It's about sex.

GORANI: Right. But you're saying that essentially it's not a federal crime, so, yet again, I have to ask, why has it turned into such a big scandal. Is it America, so puritanistic (sic) right now that they can't handle this anymore? Or is it about something bigger?

WEINER: You know, Bill Clinton was impeached not too long ago for lying about sex. I rest my case on that.

No, this scandal here is that one rogue FBI agent leaked the materials of an investigation that showed no crime whatsoever, no breach of national security, took it to Congress because he had this, I think, paranoid fantasy about a conspiracy to suppress the case. There was no crime here. There was nothing that had to be (inaudible) to Congress.


GORANI: So what happens now? Let's talk about the CIA now. What happens now? Does it change?

WEINER: They've got a new director. I mean, there have been five directors in the last eight years. It's been quite a revolving door. They got someone who has the stomach for the job. It's a dirty, difficult, dangerous job.

GORANI: And what about the FBI's relationship with the CIA? Does it change?

WEINER: It has gotten --

GORANI: (Inaudible) rivalry there, yes?

WEINER: (Inaudible). And the success of the September 11th attacks is in part attributable to the fact that the FBI and the CIA were not sharing information, were not cooperating. That cooperation has increased quite a bit, largely thanks to Bob Mueller, who is the director of the FBI, who took office, God help him, on September 4, 2001, a week before the attacks.

Now the CIA's going to be mad about this, because here's a rogue FBI agent destroying the reputation of the director of the Central Intelligence Agency. They better not start up that feud again, because this country will be a more dangerous place, more vulnerable if they do.

GORANI: Now it's not just the FBI, not just the CIA. Now we're talking about Pentagon investigations, about members of Congress saying why weren't we made aware? This is going to turn into something bigger and bigger, isn't it? It's not going to go away in a few days.

WEINER: It probably should go away.

GORANI: But it --

WEINER: The only person who really needs to explain himself and be held to account in this is the FBI agent who took scurrilous information, defamatory information out of an investigation that went nowhere near proving a crime and decided that he knew best what was best for American national security. He knew what was best for his country and he was going to leak it to the House Majority Leader.

GORANI: All right, Tim Weiner, thanks very much for your take on this scandal and the U.S. certainly make headlines from the CIA and the FBI. We'll turn to Israel's former top spy for a unique view of Syria's civil war as it's spilling into the Golan.

But before we take a break, Gen. Petraeus, in his own words, just last week, Paula Broadwell wrote an article for "Newsweek." In it, she offered up Petraeus' rules for living. Here's rule number one: "Lead by example from the front of the formation."

There are 11 other rules, but it's number 5 that caught our eye. "We all make mistakes. The key is to recognize them and admit them, to learn from them and to take off the rearview mirrors, drive on and avoid making them again."

By resigning, did Gen. Petraeus obey his own rule? Or was he shown the door? We'll be right back.



GORANI: Welcome back to the program. I'm Hala Gorani, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour.

Israel has engaged in military activity on two fronts, so not one but two volatile situations that could spread further unrest and tension in an already unstable region.


GORANI (voice-over): In the occupied Golan Heights, Israel fired directly at Syrian artillery units in response to Syrian mortar shells that landed near an Israeli army post. It is the most serious escalation between the two countries in nearly four decades.

And in Gaza, the most intensive violence in years, a Palestinian attack on a military jeep triggered an escalation that ended with seven Palestinians dead and dozens on both sides wounded.


GORANI: Efraim Halevy is deeply familiar with Israeli security issues, of course. He ran the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad, and served as a national security adviser to Ariel Sharon.

Welcome to the program, Mr. Halevy.


GORANI: First -- and I know you're not familiar --

HALEVY: Thank you very much.

GORANI: -- with the man on a person level, but when you hear stories of a scandal such as the one that's rocking the CIA with Gen. David Petraeus, having been the head of the Mossad in Israel for as long as you were, what are your thoughts?

HALEVY: My immediate thought is that Israel would -- should do well not to come into what is happening in this -- on this issue in the United States of America. I think we should keep our mouths shut and out of it. We're not familiar with the facts and it is not really our business.

But there is a second thought, and I think it's a human thought, and that is that we are faced with a professional tragedy, a human tragedy, and we have to look at it the way it is that way.

GORANI: All right. So those are two thoughts. Thanks for them.

Let me ask you about Syria and the Golan right now, in your opinion. A few days ago when the first incident happened and some violence became very close to an Israeli army post, the idea was this is accidental; it's Syrian infighting.

Now it seems as though some Israeli officials are saying more and more clearly it seems as though it's a deliberate sort of -- a deliberate act on the part of the Assad regime to provoke something. What do you think is the case?

HALEVY: I'm not sure it was a direct act of provocation. What I will say is that the fighting along the separation line -- it's not an official international border; it's a separation line -- has reached the point where the forces of President Assad are clashing with the forces of the -- what he calls the rebels. And when shells began to fall on Israel territory, initially Israel did not respond.

Two days ago, there was a shell which fell deeper into Israeli territory, and Israel fired a return shot and deliberately did not target the battery which had shelled that particular shell in Israel's direction. But another shell followed and Israel, this time, responded and directly hit the battery, which had launched that particular shell against Israel.

Now the same time that Israel did this on the ground, a (inaudible) ways and means of passing a clear message to President Assad, that it would not tolerate this kind of activity any longer, and it would not be to his interest or the interests of anybody in Syria to involve Israel in any possible way in the current fighting.


GORANI: But you don't think this is deliberate --

HALEVY: (Inaudible) Israel (inaudible) --

GORANI: -- Mr. Halevy, you don't think this is deliberate on Bashar al-Assad's regime's part? You think this is just infighting, accidental spillover in the occupied Golan?

HALEVY: I didn't say that. I said that there were two shots were fired, and we replied to these two shots differently. The first time we particularly made it our business not to target the battery which had fired against us; the second time, Israel targeted the battery, but also sent a message, an oral message through certain channels to the presidency in Damascus that this would not be tolerated.

And we two things. First of all, these shots have come to an end; and secondly, Israeli television this evening showed pictures of the battery withdrawing the Syrian battery withdrawing from the area.

GORANI: Interesting.

HALEVY: And I think this is extremely important, because it shows two things. First of all, it shows that Damascus received the message and does not wish to be involved directly or to involve Israel or to find a combat (ph) situation which would involve Israel on the ground.

That's the one important thing.

But there's one other important thing, and that is looking into the future and the more distant future, if the Assad regime falls, anybody who takes over in Damascus will know that trying to involve Israel in one way or another or carrying out activities of one kind or another which involve Israel will be met the way we have met it the last two days.

And this is a warning for the future no less than it is a warning for the present.

GORANI: Let me ask you about Gaza and what's been going on. It happened after the U.S. election and some say the timing was not a coincidence, that you had an attack on an Israeli army jeep coming from Gaza. And then you had some very forceful military response into the Gaza Strip, seven Palestinians killed.

What do you think should happen there? Because let me read you something of what you said about Hamas back in 2010.

"The current policy sends Hamas the signal that it is doomed to exclusion come what may and forever. But the more than Hamas is permitted inside the tent, the better the prospects of a modesty yet historic success."

But the current government seems to be going against that, no?

HALEVY: I would immediately respond, but I want to add one small point to what we said before, which is also related to Gaza. You must always remember that in the present situation there is one country in the world which has foreign forces on Syrian territory and that is Iran. The Iranian units, combat units, were involved in combat on Syrian territory.

And this is an element, this is an aspect which is of enormous concern to Israel because Israel's confrontation with Iran is not only around that part of the world, but also far beyond. And now we go to Gaza.

The problem in Gaza is very complex. On the one hand, we have the Hamas, which is --


GORANI: All right. Apologies there; we've lost the connection with Efraim Halevy, who was joining us there live with his thoughts, not just, of course, on what's happening in the United States, the issue with Syria and the Golan, Gaza; and we were about to talk about Iran, one of the things he's expressed himself on as well in the past.

Apologies for that technical interruption. But we managed to get a lot of that conversation in.

Now Israel faces another accusation, this one by innuendo, as conspiracy theorists continue to believe that the late Yasser Arafat, leader of the PLO, was murdered. The mystery that refuses to die when we return.




GORANI: Welcome back to the program, I'm Hala Gorani, sitting in this evening for Christiane Amanpour.

A final thought tonight: imagine a world leader who is larger than life, even in death. Today, they broke into the tomb of former PLO chief Yasser Arafat. But the workmen weren't robbing his grave; they were trying to solve a possible murder mystery.

For five decades, Yasser Arafat was the face of the Palestinians, loved by his people, hated by his enemies. When he died eight years ago in a Paris hospital, there was an outpouring of grief when he was brought home for burial.

But grief turned to rage when rumors began to spread that Arafat had, in fact, been poisoned.

In July, Swiss scientists found trace amounts of radioactive polonium in Arafat's clothing. And his widow demanded an investigation.

Today, the tomb was sealed off and the work begun. But it will take two painstaking weeks to exhume the body. And after that, it's not over. An international team of scientists will examine the remains to determine if Yasser Arafat died of natural causes or murder most foul.

Something that we're going to have to wait for over the last -- next several weeks.

That's going to do it for us here and the program this evening. Meantime, the AMANPOUR inbox is always open, Thank you for watching and goodbye from New York.