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All the Reasons Petraeaus Should Not Head the CIA

The core problem of Petraeus as CIA director is that his reputation is inextricably tied to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. How can he be objective?

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Though Petraeus’s testimony might strike many of us as a no-brainer, not so for the neocons. They resist any suggestion that Israeli intransigence regarding peace talks on Pale stine contributes to the dangers faced by American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan or by the American people from possible acts of terrorism at home.

So, when Petraeus’s testimony began getting traction on the Internet, the general quickly turned to Boot, a writer based at the high-powered, establishment Council on Foreign Relations, and began backtracking on the testimony.

“As you know, I didn't say that,” Petraeus said, according to one e-mail to Boot timed off at 2:27 p.m., March 18, 2010. “It's in a written submission for the record.”
In other words, Petraeus was trying to demonstrate his orthodoxy by emphasizing that the comments were only in his formal written testimony submitted to the Senate Armed Services Committee and were not repeated by him in his brief oral opening statement.

In another e-mail, as Petraeus solicited Boot’s help in tamping down any controversy over the Israeli remarks, the general ended the message with a military “Roger” and a sideways happy face made from a colon, a dash and a closed parenthesis, :-) .

The unintended recipient explained that he received the exchange by accident when he sent a March 19, 2010, e-mail congratulating Petraeus for his testimony and Petraeus responded by forwarding one of Boot’s blog posts that knocked down the story of the general’s implicit criticism of Israel.

Petraeus forwarded Boot’s blog item, entitled “A Lie: David Petraeus, Anti-Israel,” which had been posted at the Commentary magazine site at 3:11 p.m. on March 18. However, Petraeus apparently forgot to delete some of the other exchanges between him and Boot at the bottom of the e-mail.

The e-mails also reveal Petraeus brainstorming with Boot regarding how to finesse the potential controversy over the Senate testimony.

At 2:37 p.m. on March 18, Petraeus asks Boot, “Does it help if folks know that I hosted Elie Wiesel and his wife at our quarters last Sun night?! And that I will be the speaker at the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps in mid-Apr at the Capitol Dome [?]”

Eight minutes later, Boot responded, “No don't think that's relevant because you're not being accused of being anti-Semitic.”

That’s when a relieved Petraeus responds, “Roger! :-)”

This kind of pandering is not reassuring as Petraeus trades in his bemedaled Army uniform and his Afghan War command for a civilian suit and the director’s suite at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

 
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