Brennan-led secret raids may have led to Benghazi retaliation, book claims

Former CIA Director David Petraeus and other top intelligence officials were kept out of the loop on secret raids in Libya which may have triggered the attacks on the U.S. Consulate last year, according to a new book out Tuesday.

According to the authors -- a former Navy SEAL and former Army Ranger -- the man tapped by President Obama to lead the CIA in his second term, White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, was behind those classified "combat operations" which were allegedly conducted in the run-up to the September 2012 terror attack.

The e-book, called "Benghazi: The Definitive Report," covered a number of behind-the-scenes claims, including that Petraeus was ensnared by a "palace coup" at the CIA that ultimately helped expose his affair with biographer Paula Broadwell.

But the fresh claims about Benghazi fuel a debate that has simmered steadily since last year about what led to the Benghazi attack. Brennan is fielding questions in a classified Senate committee meeting Tuesday, as part of his nomination to lead the CIA and Libya is likely to come up.

The new book, by Jack Murphy and Brandon Webb, describes highly classified operations that were conducted against Libya militants after the fall of Muammar Qaddafi.

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"Brennan waged his own unilateral operations in North Africa outside of the traditional command structure," the book says, calling it an "off the books" operation not coordinated with Petraeus and the CIA.

The authors then claim that these raids were a "contributing factor" in the militant strike on the U.S. Consulate and CIA annex on Sept. 11.

The raids, they said, "kicked the hornets' nest and pissed off the militia."

Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was killed in the attack, "was kept in the dark and ultimately killed in a retaliation that he never could have seen coming," they wrote. "Likewise, the CIA never knew what hit them."

While highly critical of Brennan, the authors also go on to detail tensions at the highest levels of the CIA.

They claim that, while the FBI had already been investigating Petraeus and Broadwell, officials inside the CIA aided and encouraged that investigation. The officials, according to the book, were disappointed with Petraeus for "pursuing paramilitary operations" and allegedly moving the CIA away from its "roots in intelligence collection."

Further, the book claimed Petraeus' bodyguards helped spill the beans on Petraeus' affair.

"It was well known to Petraeus' 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," they wrote.

"The reality of the situation is that high-ranking CIA officers had already discovered the affair by consulting with Petraeus' PSD and then found a way to initiate an FBI investigation in order to create a string of evidence and an investigative trail that led to the information they already had -- in other words, an official investigation that could be used to force Petraeus to resign."

The White House has not responded to a request for comment on the book.