Petraeus, Allen, Benghazi potpourri

Developing–check back for updates


potpourri /pəʊˈpʊəri, -ˈriː, pɒtˈpʊəri/

▶noun (pl. potpourris)
1 a mixture of dried petals and spices placed in a bowl to perfume a room.
2 a mixture of things; a medley.
– origin C17 (denoting a stew made of different kinds of meat): from Fr., lit. ‘rotten pot’.

–Concise Oxford English Dictionary © 2008 Oxford University Press, quoted at

(1) See Adèle Smith, “Jill Kelley, l’ensorceleuse de généraux,” Le Figaro, 14 Novembre 2012.

(2) See Keli Goff (“The Root”/Washington Post Blogs), “Obama Frees His Inner Angry Black Man: The president’s ire shows as he defends Ambassador Susan Rice from GOP attacks over Benghazi, Libya, Washington Post, November 15, 2012.

Exerpts from Goff:

Well, it looks as if now that he has been comfortably re-elected to his second, final term, the president doesn’t fear being feared for being angry anymore. During his first press conference since being re-elected, the president was tough, forceful and angry at times, most notably when defending the woman whom many believe will become his next secretary of state, United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice. The headlines that ran immediately. after the press conference say it all: “Obama Angrily Rebukes GOP Senators Over Susan Rice,” “President Obama Got Angry Today” and “Visibly Angry Obama Defends Susan Rice.”

Speaking of Rice’s statements on the Benghazi affair, Graham said, “This is about the role she played around four dead Americans when it seems to be that the story coming out of the administration — and she’s the point person — is so disconnected to reality, I don’t trust her. And the reason I don’t trust her is because I think she knew better, and if she didn’t know better, she shouldn’t be the voice of America.”

To which President Obama replied in his press conference:

“If Sen. McCain and Sen. Graham, and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me. And I’m happy to have that discussion with them. But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador who had nothing to do with Benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received, and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous.”

(3) Comment on Goff excerpts:

If President Obama wants to see Susan Rice confirmed as Secretary of State, he needs to control his anger now, and work hard to win the cooperation of Senators McCain and Graham not only to support his nomination for Secretary of State, but also to support his foreign policy.

Moreover, he might usefully recall that his appointments to the federal bench have lagged. When he gets around to filling these judgeships, he will need the votes of Senators like McCain and Graham for their confirmation.

The public display of anger, however useful in a campaign, is generally not a useful tool for a statesman or a president who hopes to heal the partisan rift, or to simply to govern effectively, both at home and abroad, during his second term.

(4) The latest excuse relating to Susan Rice’s talking points is almost ludicrous:

See Kimberly Dozier, “CIA deputy: Rice got initial assessment on Libya,” Associated Press, November 15, 2012 (8:13 p.m. EST).

(5) Hillary will testify before Congress on Benghazi, when and how she wishes:

Hillary Clinton has indicated she will testify before Congress, but not before her internal investigation is completed sometime in December. She needs to testify about what she knew and when she knew it, and the instructions given to Susan Rice before her appearance on the Sunday talk shows on September 16. She can give that testimony now, when it is needed. See Kimberly Dozier, above.

(6) Eric Holder has offered the explanation that a very important interview on November 2 (with Paula Broadwell, according to another official) was the reason the Justice Department became satisfied it had the whole story, and the FBI notified James Clapper on Tuesday, November 6, of the Petraeus affair with Broadwell.

The Trenchant Observer

About the Author

James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.