Jack Keane

Petraeus: Sex Under the Desk with Broadwell Less Dangerous than Intercourse with the Kagans

Rajiv Chandrasekaran has a fascinating story about how the NeoCons–in the form of Fred and Kim Kagan–kept control of the strings on our Generals in (Chandrasekaran’s story is limited to) Afghanistan. The Kagans effectively moved to Afghanistan and served as private, high level advisors for Petraeus, all funded by the defense contractors funding AEI and Institute for the Study of War.

The four-star general made the Kagans de facto senior advisers, a status that afforded them numerous private meetings in his office, priority travel across the war zone and the ability to read highly secretive transcripts of intercepted Taliban communications, according to current and former senior U.S. military and civilian officials who served in the headquarters at the time.

The Kagans used those privileges to advocate substantive changes in the U.S. war plan, including a harder-edged approach than some U.S. officers advocated in combating the Haqqani network, a Taliban faction in eastern Afghanistan, the officials said.

The pro-bono relationship, which is now being scrutinized by military lawyers, yielded valuable benefits for the general and the couple. The Kagans’ proximity to Petraeus, the country’s most-famous living general, provided an incentive for defense contractors to contribute to Kim Kagan’s think tank. For Petraeus, embracing two respected national security analysts in GOP circles helped to shore up support for the war among Republican leaders on Capitol Hill. [my emphasis]

Perhaps more frightening than that is the way the Kagans threatened Stanley McChrystal to be allowed to check his work in Afghanistan.

The Kagans should have been thrilled, but they soon grew concerned. They thought McChrystal’s headquarters was not providing enough information to them about the state of the war. The military began to slow-roll their requests to visit Afghanistan. In early 2010, they wrote an e-mail to McChrystal, copying Petraeus, that said they “were coming to the conclusion that the campaign was off track and that it was not going to be successful,” Fred Kagan said.

To some senior staff members in McChrystal’s headquarters, the e-mail read like a threat: Invite us to visit or we will publish a piece saying the war is lost.

Worried about the consequences of losing the Kagans, McChrystal authorized the trip, according to the staff members.

The story notes that John Allen has afforded them access as well.

So effectively, Neocons who have repeatedly led the cry to escalate our wars have been given personal access to the war, paid for by the people profiting off these escalations.

As fascinating as the story is, it doesn’t yet tell the full narrative of what the Kagans were doing.

For example, why is Chandrasekaran just reporting it now? Has David Petraeus’ star fallen sufficiently for sources to start revealing what was apparent to all of us watching, he was a NeoCon puppet? Or is it surfacing because of the review by military lawyers, bolded above?

Or is it coming to light now because of the close scrutiny Petraeus’ communications and actions received after he was caught diddling his biographer? Chandrasekaran’s sources claim the people running the war didn’t know Neocon advisors were camped out with SCI clearances reading Taliban intercepts (hey! didn’t we try to make peace with the Taliban?!?!).

The extent of the couple’s involvement in Petraeus’s headquarters was not known to senior White House and Pentagon officials involved in war policy, two of those officials said.

So if they just discovered it after the Paula Broadwell affair, it would make sense that it is now leaking.

Then there’s a temporal feint Petraeus’ allies are trying to pull off. A former aide suggests Petraeus brought the Kagans in simply because he had less knowledge of Afghanistan than he had in Iraq.

“Petraeus relied on the Kagans for a fresh set of eyes . . . because he didn’t have the same nuanced understanding of Afghanistan that he had of Iraq,” a former aide to Petraeus said.

That is, Petraeus wants to suggest this arrangement existed only in Afghanistan (not insignificantly, the period of time when Petraeus’ communications would be under review because of the Broadwell scandal).

But Chandrasekaran makes it clear it goes back further. Petraeus started providing Neocons access back in Iraq, and he did so, in part, because they served as publicists for the publicity hound General.

The Defense Department permits independent analysts to observe combat operations, but the practice became far more common when Petraeus became the top commander in Iraq. He has said that conversations with outside specialists helped to shape his strategic thinking.

The take-home benefit was equally significant: When the opinion makers returned home, they inevitably wrote op-eds, gave speeches and testified before Congress, generally imparting a favorable message about progress under Petraeus, all of which helped him sell the war effort and expand his popularity. [my emphasis]

These think tankers, funded by defense contractors, were selling Petraeus right along with their escalating wars.

Besides, we know Fred Kagan, at least, was getting this kind of access during Iraq and using it to sell the escalation. As I noted in 2008, the back channel between Dick Cheney–who after being instructed by the Saudis, was pushing the surge–and Petraeus through Jack Keane is the untold story of the official narrative of Iraq.

And then there’s the curious near-total absence of Dick Cheney from the first three-fifths of the book, the part describing the debates over a new strategy in Iraq, even while Woodward admits Cheney continued to “offer[] his views directly to the president.” Cheney’s absence is particularly problematic given the reports that Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah “summoned Cheney” to Riyadh to express displeasure (andissue threats) about the Iraq Survey Group’s proposals just before the time when–Woodward reports–Bush made up his mind to support a troop escalation.

According to Hadley, that moment [when Bush decided in favor of a surge] had come when the president called him in mid-December 2006 and said, “I’m getting comfortable with my decision, but I don’t want to give a speech yet.”

Particularly given Woodward’s portrayal of the way Cheney later fiercely guards his back channel access through Jack Keane to David Petraeus–breaking the chain of command to protect the surge from all regional considerations–the description of Cheney as distanced from the decision to support the surge seems odd.

Woodward made it clear, though, that AEI (that is, Kagan) was getting classified information to build his theory of the surge.

So this puppet mastery is in no way new to Afghanistan. It’s just that the Afghan story is coming out, without yet being connected to the escalation that still remains the fictional success story orchestrated by the heroic General Petraeus and his merry band of think tanker-publicists.

And aside from my point above–that their access to Taliban intercepts means the Kagans would have had a view on any peace negotiations–there’s Chandrasekaran subtle suggestion that the Kagans dictated the surge in Afghanistan, too, advocating for the targeting of the Haqqani network at a time when President Obama was trying to reel in the war.

Their immersion occurred at an opportune time. Petraeus was fond of speaking about the importance of using troops to protect Afghan communities from insurgents, but he recognized that summer that the Obama White House wanted to narrow the scope of the war. As a consequence, the general decided to emphasize attacking insurgent strongholds — and so did the Kagans.

[snip]

The Kagans believed U.S. commanders needed to shift their focus from protecting key towns and cities to striking Haqqani encampments and smuggling routes, according to several current and former military and civilian officials familiar the issue.

In the late summer of 2010, they shared their views with field officers during a trip to the east. “They implied to brigade commanders that Petraeus would prefer them to devote their resources to killing Haqqanis,” said Doug Ollivant, a former senior adviser to the two-star general in charge of eastern Afghanistan.

But Petraeus had not yet issued new directives to his three-star subordinate or the two-star in the east.

The suggestion is the Kagans drove the new focus on the Haqqanis–indeed, were even issuing orders to officers before Petraeus was doing–just at the time Obama was trying to de-escalate the war.

The implications of this story are quite sobering, though Chandrasekaran has just begun to map it all out. Paid representatives of the war industry twice intervened with David Petraeus to get him to extend and expand the war. And in the case of Afghanistan (and I suspect even in the case of Iraq) they did so by bypassing the entire chain of command.

Petraeus Tie to Afghan Local Police Program Hits NYTimes One Day After ALP Role in Revenge Killings Noted

On Saturday, we learned that US Special Operations forces have suspended training of Afghan Local Police while a re-screening of the backgrounds of those already in the force is carried out. I noted then that only Reuters dared to connect the ALP program to David Petraeus, who put it in place, presumably because the news on the program was not good. Yesterday, the New York Times also linked Petraeus to the program, and, remarkably, this came only one day after running an article exposing further problems with the ALP program.

Sunday’s article on problems with the Afghan Local Police program informs us that a number of atrocities have been linked to groups some claim have been enabled by the ALP program:

It was the second time in a month that one of the controversial militia groups, known as arbakai, had carried out reprisal killings of people believed to be Taliban sympathizers.

In both cases, residents complained that the groups received support and protection from American Special Operations forces, which the United States military has denied. The Special Operations units train arbakai militiamen only when they are enrolled in official programs for recruits of the Afghan Local Police, American officials insist.

Although the term “reprisal killing” has a specific definition in International Humanitarian Law (see this comment by joanneleon), the article linked by the Times when they used the term discusses what looks like a case of revenge killing fueled by ethnic hatred:

At least nine Afghans and perhaps many more were forced out of their homes in rural Afghanistan and executed in what Afghan officials called an act of revenge by one ethnic group against another, underscoring the long shadow cast by the country’s ethnic hatreds.

So, while at least some of the atrocities attributed to the ALP may be due to ethnic tensions, what seems clear is that in many cases these groups claim a relationship to US Special Operations forces that the US sometimes disputes. From this same early August article:

Two Afghan officials, including a member of Parliament, asserted that the man who is accused of leading the executions has had a relationship with American Special Operations forces — an assertion that an American spokesman denied. The other Afghan official, the provincial police chief, said the authorities in the area had tried to have the man arrested on past accusations of killing civilians, but that “foreigners” provided refuge for him.

The spokesman for the Special Operations Command, Lt. Col. Todd Harrell, said there were no Special Operations forces in the area and emphasized that it remained unclear if those who were killed were civilians or Taliban.

That is a very interesting dual-level denial by Harrell. First, he denies a link to the leader of the group carrying out the executions, but, just in case that claim later becomes non-operational, he throws in the suggestion that those killed may have been Taliban, presumably making the fact that they were executed okay.

The article goes on to state that perhaps some ALP units have direct links to Special Operations forces rather than operating under Afghan control. Complicating matters further, it appears that although the ALP program got a large push under Petraeus’ command, the practice of buying off militia groups has been going on from the beginning of our presence in Afghanistan and may go beyond Special Operations: Continue reading

Iran Seeks Interpol Prosecution of Neoconservatives Jack Keane, Reuel Marc Gerecht

Jack Keane, on left, and Reuel Marc Gerecht, on right.

Multiple news outlets in Iran are reporting that Iran has asked Interpol to prosecute former General Jack Keane (co-author of the Iraq surge) and former CIA operative Reuel Marc Gerecht on the basis of their open calls for the assassination of Iranian figures during a meeting of two House Homeland Security Subcommitttees on October 26.

From Mehr News:

In a letter to Interpol, Iranian National Prosecutor General Gholam Hossein Mohseni-Ejei has called for the prosecution of the U.S. officials, IRNA reported on Monday.

/snip/

According to the online magazine Firstpost, at a session of the committee, Jack Keane, a retired four-star general who helped plan the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq, called for the assassination of the leaders of Iran’s Qods Force in retaliation for their alleged role in a plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to Washington, a claim vehemently denied by Iranian officials.

“Why don’t we kill them? We kill other people who are running terrorist organizations against the United States,” he said.

The other witness, Reuel Marc Gerecht, a former CIA officer who is now a senior fellow at the neoconservative think tank the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the committee, “I don’t think that you are going to really intimidate these people, get their attention, unless you shoot somebody.”

The article then goes on to report that Congressmen Peter King, Michael McCaul and Patrick Meehan signed a November 22 letter stating “that the U.S. should undermine Iranian officials and damage the country’s infrastructure through increasing covert operations”.

Fars News Agency claims that Interpol stands ready to help in the effort:

Iran’s Deputy Police Chief Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Radan announced that the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) has promised to help Tehran prosecute the two former US officials who had called on the Obama administration to assassinate Iran’s top military commanders.

“The Interpol will take the steps for the prosecution of two Americans who sponsor terrorism,” Radan told FNA on Tuesday. Continue reading

The Surge’s Virgin Birth

Man, Jack Keane is working overtime to spin the history of the surge, isn’t he? Last week we saw Keane’s attempt to force Obama to adopt the insubordinate position of Generals Odierno and Petraeus. And today we see the product of a two-year plan to mythologize the origin of the surge: Thomas Ricks’ story describing Ray Odierno as the "dissident General" who birthed the surge.

Using the language of paternity, Ricks assigns ownership of this to Petraeus and–above all–Odierno.

The most prominent advocates of maintaining that commitment are the two generals who implemented the surge and changed the direction of the war: Odierno and David H. Petraeus, who replaced Casey in 2007 as the top U.S. commander in Iraq and became the figure most identified with the new strategy. But if Petraeus, now the head of U.S. Central Command, was the public face of the troop buildup, he was only its adoptive parent. It was Odierno, since September the U.S. commander in Iraq, who was the surge’s true father.

But there are problems with Ricks’ story. First of all, at least in this excerpt from his larger book, he mentions neither the Iraq Study Group nor the AEI-Kagan plan for the surge. Silence about the former leaves out the entire context of the decision to push a surge–not least Saudi pressure not to adopt the ISG’s recommendations. And silence about the latter leaves out a critical force in the generation of the plan; plus, Ricks describes the decision as happening shortly after December 19, after the AEI-Kagan plan was already released.

Ricks also offers no explanation for the critical motivating factor needed to claim Odierno was the father of the surge: how he came to reject his former strategic approach and adopt a radically different one.

Retired Army Col. Stuart Herrington, a veteran intelligence officer, concluded that the approach that many U.S. commanders used in the early days of the Iraq war effectively made them recruiters for the insurgency, and he was especially bothered by the actions of Odierno’s division. "Some divisions are conducting operations with rigorous detention criteria, while some — the 4th ID is the negative example — are sweeping up large numbers of people and dumping them at the door of Abu Ghraib," Herrington wrote in a 2003 report to Brig. Gen. Barbara Fast, the top Army intelligence officer in Iraq.

Continue reading

Is Cheney Behind the Attack on Obama's Plans to Withdraw from Iraq?

picture-80.thumbnail.pngA number of people have pointed to this important Gareth Porter article describing an insubordinate attack on Obama’s plan to withdraw from Iraq in 16 months.

A network of senior military officers is also reported to be preparing to support Petraeus and Odierno by mobilizing public opinion against Obama’s decision.

[snip]

The source says the network, which includes senior active-duty officers in the Pentagon, will begin making the argument to journalists covering the Pentagon that Obama’s withdrawal policy risks an eventual collapse in Iraq. That would raise the political cost to Obama of sticking to his withdrawal policy.

If Obama does not change the policy, according to the source, they hope to have planted the seeds of a future political narrative blaming his withdrawal policy for the "collapse" they expect in an Iraq without US troops. 

One aspect of the article has been underplayed in coverage of this insubordination: the centrality in this plot of Jack Keane.

The opening argument by the Petraeus-Odierno faction against Obama’s withdrawal policy was revealed the evening of the January 21 meeting when retired army General Jack Keane, one of the authors of the Bush troop-surge policy and a close political ally and mentor of Petraeus, appeared on the "Lehrer News Hour" to comment on Obama’s pledge on Iraq combat troop withdrawal. 

[snip]

Keane, the army vice chief of staff from 1999-03, has ties to a network of active and retired four-star army generals, and since Obama’s January 21 order on the 16-month withdrawal plan, some of the retired four-star generals in that network have begun discussing a campaign to blame Obama’s troop withdrawal from Iraq for the ultimate collapse of the political "stability" that they expect to follow the US withdrawal, according to a military source familiar with the network’s plans. 

But what really hasn’t gotten enough attention, IMO, are the ties between Keane and Dick Cheney.

Ever since he began working on the troop surge, Keane has been the central figure manipulating policy in order to keep as many US troops in Iraq as possible. It was Keane who got Vice President Dick Cheney to push for Petraeus as top commander in Iraq in late 2006 when the existing commander, General George W. Casey, did not support the troop surge. 

Now, as Porter suggests,  Keane’s role in the surge and his relationship with Cheney is best chronicled in Woodward’s most recent book. Continue reading

Is Cheney Behind the Attack on Obama’s Plans to Withdraw from Iraq?

picture-80.thumbnail.pngA number of people have pointed to this important Gareth Porter article describing an insubordinate attack on Obama’s plan to withdraw from Iraq in 16 months.

A network of senior military officers is also reported to be preparing to support Petraeus and Odierno by mobilizing public opinion against Obama’s decision.

[snip]

The source says the network, which includes senior active-duty officers in the Pentagon, will begin making the argument to journalists covering the Pentagon that Obama’s withdrawal policy risks an eventual collapse in Iraq. That would raise the political cost to Obama of sticking to his withdrawal policy.

If Obama does not change the policy, according to the source, they hope to have planted the seeds of a future political narrative blaming his withdrawal policy for the "collapse" they expect in an Iraq without US troops. 

One aspect of the article has been underplayed in coverage of this insubordination: the centrality in this plot of Jack Keane.

The opening argument by the Petraeus-Odierno faction against Obama’s withdrawal policy was revealed the evening of the January 21 meeting when retired army General Jack Keane, one of the authors of the Bush troop-surge policy and a close political ally and mentor of Petraeus, appeared on the "Lehrer News Hour" to comment on Obama’s pledge on Iraq combat troop withdrawal. 

[snip]

Keane, the army vice chief of staff from 1999-03, has ties to a network of active and retired four-star army generals, and since Obama’s January 21 order on the 16-month withdrawal plan, some of the retired four-star generals in that network have begun discussing a campaign to blame Obama’s troop withdrawal from Iraq for the ultimate collapse of the political "stability" that they expect to follow the US withdrawal, according to a military source familiar with the network’s plans. 

But what really hasn’t gotten enough attention, IMO, are the ties between Keane and Dick Cheney.

Ever since he began working on the troop surge, Keane has been the central figure manipulating policy in order to keep as many US troops in Iraq as possible. It was Keane who got Vice President Dick Cheney to push for Petraeus as top commander in Iraq in late 2006 when the existing commander, General George W. Casey, did not support the troop surge. 

Now, as Porter suggests,  Keane’s role in the surge and his relationship with Cheney is best chronicled in Woodward’s most recent book. Continue reading

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