CNN has a story based on the deposition of Frederick Humphries, the friend of Jill Kelley who first initiated the investigation into Kelley’s stalker, who turned out to be David Petraeus’ lover, Paula Broadwell. The deposition is in Kelley’s suit against the FBI for violating her privacy.
The deposition contains accusations the FBI stalled the investigation because of the Presidential election and that Agents made derogatory comments about Kelly.
If what Humphries alleges is true, then it points to real abuse in an investigation affecting David Petraeus.
That said, Humphries — who has worked counterterrorism for years, including on the Ahmed Ressam case — expresses surprise that the FBI what they do on national security cases: collect broadly and then investigate what they’ve collected. The FBI used some of Kelley’s other emails against both Humphries and Kelley.
“The only victim is her husband because he has to pay for all the food that she goes out and eats and takes pictures of and sends to everyone,” said Kevin Eaton, the assistant special agent in charge, according to Humphries.
Kelley is often took photos of her food when she goes out to eat and sends them to her friends, a source close to Kelley said.
It was a comment that “shocked and surprised” Humphries since it revealed that the FBI was looking at Kelley’s e-mails beyond the ones relevant to the cyberstalking, contrary to Kelley’s explicit instruction.
In September 2012 Ibison “summoned” Humphries to a meeting and asked him “whether there was anything in my communications with Jill Kelley for which I would be embarrassed,” he testified.
“No,” Humphries said, and Ibison “threw a bunch of pictures at me and files of my e-mails to Jill Kelley.”
“Well, I told the director that and he just shoved these up my ass,” Ibison said, according to Humphries, “and he tossed the pictures at me.”
I’m in no way saying this is right. It’s not. It’s a privacy violation and it shows how easy FBI can use its deep digs of information to abuse power.
But the FBI is explicit that once it has legally collected information, it can access that information without evidence of a crime.
And Humphries himself makes it clear that the FBI treated this as a cybersecurity investigation, investigations which (if anything) overcollect even more than counterterrorism cases.
Jill Kelley reached out to Humphries, an FBI Agent whom she and her husband knew socially.
“She explained that Gen. Allen had received an odd e-mail,” Humphries testified, noting that “whoever sent these e-mails is either in close physical proximity or has penetrated the cyber security of these folks to include the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Director Petraeus, and I was worried and concerned for his safety, the safety of the generals.”
Humphries thought the emails “ominous” and contacted Special Agent Adam Malone of the Tampa Cyber Squad.
“We had already reached the threshold on the cyber or physical security of senior government leadership and possible their email,” he said.
Again, I absolutely agree with Humphries that FBI’s focus on Kelley and them him was wrong. But it’s wrong whether it’s someone who is two degrees of separation from an Imam of interest or a socialite in Tampa Bay who makes trouble for David Petraeus.
And, of course, such potential violations will only get more widespread if Congress passes CISA, which would permit the sharing of cyber-investigation information broadly across the government.
The current, woeful state of the Iraqi military raises the question not so much of whether the Americans left too soon, but whether a new round of deployments for training will have any more effect than the last.
Yes, indeed. We already know that all of the previous rounds of training Iraqi troops failed miserably. That indisputable fact allows Nordland to pose the question of whether this new round of training could be expected to somehow be successful after all those failures. Since the article offers no description of any changes in strategy or methods in this new round of training, it’s hard to see how the answer is anything other than a strong probability that this round of training also will fail.
The catastrophic demise of Iraq’s forces is staggering with the numbers Nordland presents. At its peak, the Iraqi military numbered 280,000. And yet once ISIS advanced, the melting away of multiple whole divisions of troops whittled Iraq down to a force that perhaps was as low as only 50,000. This current training effort, being carried out by 3000 US forces, is expected to add, at best, 30,000 Iraqi troops. Nordland admits, however, that the number is likely to be “far fewer”. Despite this depressing math, Nordland doesn’t get around to pointing out just how little impact such a small increase in Iraqi forces is likely to have even if their training somehow turned out to be successful.
But don’t despair. Our intrepid Speaker of the House is on duty to make sure that we continue repeating our training failures:
Boehner blamed “artificial constraints” on the 4,500 American trainers and advisers to the Iraqi army, suggesting that a slight increase in U.S. troops could occur if the Pentagon’s commanders suggested they were needed to help direct fighting against Islamic State forces. “They’re only there to train and advise the Iraqi army, and the fact is it’s just that – training and advising,” he said, dismissing fears that his proposal would lead to tens of thousands of additional U.S. troops locked in another bloody ground war.
“There’s more that we can do, with limited risk, and it wouldn’t require that many more people,” the speaker said.
“Please,” Boehner seems to be saying, “Let’s get back to a full war in Iraq, but without calling it war.” Presumably because the last one worked out so well.
Postscript: Marcy has been the one tracking maneuvers around the issue of an AUMF (even as recently as yesterday), but the Boehner quote above comes from a larger article about a possible new Iraq AUMF. Boehner is fighting Obama’s proposed AUMF. But he’s fighting it because he doesn’t want Obama to give back some of the unlimited war powers of the Executive:
“Until the president gets serious about fighting the fight, until he has a strategy that makes sense, there’s no reason for us to give him less authority than what he has today, which is what he’s asking for,” Boehner told a group of reporters Tuesday, following his trip with lawmakers to several Middle East hot spots during the congressional recess.
Take that, Mr. President. We won’t give you authority for this war until you ask for even more unfettered power than we already grant you!
In a letter to the NYT complaining that the paper compared his client, David Petraeus, with Stephen Kim and John Kiriakou, defense attorney David Kendall implicitly makes the argument that mistress-biographers have a better recognized privilege to access classified information than defense attorneys. (h/t Steven Aftergood via Josh Gerstein)
Now, far be it for me to criticize Kendall’s lawyering ability. After all, his firm, Williams & Connolly, has developed quite the expertise for getting well-connected Republicans off for leaking covert officers’ identities, having done so for Ari Fleischer, Dick Cheney, and now David Petraeus.
But his letter is ridiculous on both the facts and his rebuttal of the comparison, at least as it pertains to John Kiriakou.
First, Kendall omits key facts in his depiction of Petraeus’ crimes.
General Petraeus’s case is about the unlawful removal and improper storage of classified materials, not the dissemination of such materials to the public. Indeed, a statement of facts filed with the plea agreement and signed by both General Petraeus and the Justice Department makes clear that “no classified information” from his “black books” (personal notebooks) that were given to his biographer, Paula Broadwell, appeared in the biography.
He notes the plea deal “makes clear that ‘no classified information’ from his ‘black books’ … appeared in the biography.” That’s a very different thing than claiming that no classified information Petraeus shared with Broadwell appeared in her fawning biography of his client — and the record seems to suggest that it does.
Kendall also neglects to mention that this case is also about his client, just days after applauding Kiriakou’s plea, lying to the FBI. While, through the good grace of Kendall’s lawyering, Petraeus has gotten off scot free for a crime that others do years of prison time for, Petraeus nevertheless admitted that he committed that crime.
Indeed, as Abbe Lowell has made clear, that’s what prevented Kim from getting precisely the sweet deal that Petraeus has gotten, his alleged lies to the FBI.
But I’m even more disgusted by Kendall’s cynical treatment of Kiriakou’s crime.
By contrast, Stephen J. Kim arranged for the publication of highly sensitive classified information from an intelligence report on North Korea’s military capabilities, and John C. Kiriakou revealed the identities of covert C.I.A. agents, a betrayal of colleagues “whose secrecy is their only safety,” in the words of a government attorney.
Reporters, like biographers, are frequently given access to sensitive information on the understanding that they will not publicize it, and it is hypocritical for The Times to argue for leniency for Mr. Kim and Mr. Kiriakou and harshness for General Petraeus.
Note how Kendall doesn’t describe to whom Kiriakou “revealed the identities of covert C.I.A. agents” [a factual error — Kiriakou was only accused of leaking one covert officer’s identity]? The answer is he revealed the identity of a torturer to a journalist who was working for defense attorneys defending people that torturer had tortured.
Now, clearly, Kendall does defend the right of journalists to receive such classified information if they don’t publicly disclose it. That’s what he argues Petraeus’ mistress has done (the evidence notwithstanding). So according to Kendall’s lawyering, providing that covert officer’s identity to a reporter who didn’t disclose it publicly — which is what happened in Kiriakou’s case — should have gotten Kiriakou probation.
Ultimately though, Kendall doesn’t even deal with the fact that, whatever scant privilege journalists and mistress-biographers have been granted in this country, defense attorneys have generally been granted more, for good reason. Thus, by all measures, Kiriakou made no worse, and arguably a much more legally defensible disclosure of a CIA officer’s identity than the multiple covert officers’ identities Petraeus exposed to his mistress and anyone else who decided to peruse his unlocked desk drawer.
I mean, I never really expect people in Petraeus’ vicinity to do anything but fluff his reputation; Petraeus has an infallible ability in eliciting that from people he permits to get close (or closer, in the case of Broadwell).
But I am rather surprised that a defense attorney is arguing he should have fewer privileges than a mistress-biographer.
In early 2010, Chelsea Manning discovered that a group of people Iraq’s Federal Police were treating as insurgents were instead trying to call attention to Nuri al-Malki’s corruption. When she alerted her supervisors to that fact, they told her to “drop it,” and instead find more people who were publishing “anti-Iraqi literature” calling out Maliki’s corruption.
On 27 February 2010, a report was received from a subordinate battalion. The report described an event in which the FP detained fifteen (15) individuals for printing “anti-Iraqi literature.” By 2 March 2010, I received instructions from an S3 section officer in the 2-10BCT Tactical Operations Center to investigate the matter, and figure out who these “bad guys” were, and how significant this event was for the FP.
Over the course of my research, I found that none of the individuals had previous ties with anti-Iraqi actions or suspected terrorist or militia groups. A few hours later, I received several photos from the scene from the subordinate battalion.
I printed a blown up copy of the high-resolution photo, and laminated it for ease of storage and transfer. I then walked to the TOC and delivered the laminated copy to our category 2 interpreter. She reviewed the information and about a half-hour later delivered a rough written transcript in English to the S2 section.
I read the transcript, and followed up with her, asking for her take on its contents. She said it was easy for her to transcribe verbatim since I blew up the photograph and laminated it. She said the general nature of the document was benign. The documentation, as I assessed as well, was merely a scholarly critique of the then-current Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki. It detailed corruption within the cabinet of al-Maliki’s government, and the financial impact of this corruption on the Iraqi people.
After discovering this discrepancy between FP’s report, and the interpreter’s transcript, I forwarded this discovery, in person to the TO OIC and Battle NCOIC.
The TOC OIC and, the overhearing Battlecaptain, informed me they didn’t need or want to know this information any more. They told me to “drop it” and to just assist them and the FP in finding out where more of these print shops creating “anti-Iraqi literature” might be. I couldn’t believe what I heard, (24-25)
At the time, David Petraeus was the head of CENTCOM, the very top of the chain of command that had ordered Manning to “drop” concerns about Iraqis being detained for legitimate opposition to Maliki’s corruption.
Manning would go on to leak more documents showing US complicity in Iraqi abuses, going back to 2004. None of those documents were classified more than Secret. Her efforts (in part) to alert Americans to the abuse the military chain of command in Iraq was ignoring won her a 35-year sentence in Leavenworth.
Compare that to David Petraeus who pretends, to this day, Maliki’s corruption was not known and not knowable before the US withdrew troops in 2011, who pretends the US troops under his command did not ignore, even facilitate, Maliki’s corruption.
What went wrong?
The proximate cause of Iraq’s unraveling was the increasing authoritarian, sectarian and corrupt conduct of the Iraqi government and its leader after the departure of the last U.S. combat forces in 2011. The actions of the Iraqi prime minister undid the major accomplishment of the Surge. (They) alienated the Iraqi Sunnis and once again created in the Sunni areas fertile fields for the planting of the seeds of extremism, essentially opening the door to the takeover of the Islamic State. Some may contend that all of this was inevitable. Iraq was bound to fail, they will argue, because of the inherently sectarian character of the Iraqi people. I don’t agree with that assessment.
The tragedy is that political leaders failed so badly at delivering what Iraqis clearly wanted — and for that, a great deal of responsibility lies with Prime Minister Maliki.
Unlike Manning, Petraeus adheres to a myth, the myth that this war was not lost 12 years ago, when George Bush ordered us to invade based on a pack of lies, when Petraeus and his fellow commanders failed to bring security after the invasion (largely through the priorities of their superiors), when Paul Bremer decided to criminalize the bureaucracy that might have restored stability — and a secular character — to Iraq.
Of course, Petraeus’ service to that myth is no doubt a big part of the reason he can continue to influence public opinion from the comfort of his own home as he prepares to serve his 2 years of probation for leaking code word documents, documents far more sensitive than those Manning leaked, as opposed to the 35 years in Leavenworth Manning received.
Which is, of course, a pretty potent symbol of our own corruption.
Sorry to be all Petraeus-centric.
But I wanted to follow up on one more detail about his plea deal, because it has been a point of discussion on whether he faces an appropriate punishment.
A number of people are saying that Paula Broadwell did not publish any classified information that David Petraeus shared with her.
Do we actually know that?
I’m not sure whether we know that to be true or not. What the plea deal says (and unless I’m mistaken, all it says) is that she did not publish any information from his Black Books, those notebooks full of code word intelligence and covert operatives identities and deliberative conversations with NSC.
No classified information from the Black Books appeared in the aforementioned biography.
That’s different from saying that he did not share and she did not publish any classified information.
This plea deal, as all plea deals I’ve seen do, notes that not everything known is in the plea deal.
This Factual Basis does not attempt to set forth all the facts known to the United States at this time.
The early stories on this leak suggested that FBI saw things in their emails and in things seized from her home that suggested he had shared classified information with Broadwell. The Black Books were likely the most classified thing he shared with her (one would hope), but that leaves open the possibility that he shared a lot less classified information (which would be less problematic to share with a Reserve Officer, but not if she published it).
I don’t know one way or another. But unless I’m mistaken, neither does anyone else, based on the public record. Clearly DOJ wanted to set Petraeus up with a sweet plea deal, which it did. That would have been a lot harder to do if it also admitted that Broadwell’s book included classified information she got from him.
To some degree it doesn’t matter (after all, Leon Panetta got away with classified information too!). But I just want to note that I, for one, don’t actually know whether Broadwell published any information that was classified.
Update: This piece seems to suggest there may be a good deal of classified information in Broadwell’s book. It shows that Broadwell sourced some key discussions from June 2011 involving National Security Council discussions to an interview with Petraeus the day after he retrieved his Black Books which would have included descriptions of those discussions.
There is an exception to every rule, standard operating procedure, and policy; it is up to leaders to determine when exceptions should be made and to explain why they made them.
– David Petraeus’ Rules for Living, as presented by Paula Broadwell as they were being caught in an FBI investigation
Predictably, Trey Gowdy has subpoenaed more information about Hillary Clinton’s email personal email revealed this week.
But it seems he also ought to call David Petraeus in for another chat about Benghazi in light of details in the former CIA Director’s plea deal.
That’s because the Plea Documents show that the investigation into Petraeus and Paula Broadwell intersects with the Benghazi investigation in ways that are even more interesting than was already clear. Consider what those two timelines look like when you add in the fact that Petraeus lied to the FBI about leaking information to his mistress on October 26, 2012, which has been updated from this post (note that contemporaneous reporting dated Petraeus’ FBI interview to October 29).
From the sex and leaking standpoint, the revised timeline is interesting because it shows Petraeus and Broadwell together at — of all places! — the annual celebration for old-style subterfuge, the OSS dinner, between the time Petraeus lied to the FBI and the time Broadwell was interviewed a second time.
But from a Benghazi perspective, it shows that on the same day Petraeus lied to the FBI, Paula Broadwell made the accusation that the attack was really about freeing militia members held at the CIA annex. The next day Petraeus and Broadwell hobnobbed together among the old style spooks. and then days later — even as an FBI whistleblower was forcing the investigation into the public, without which it might have been dropped — Petraeus went on a “fact-finding” mission to Cairo, in part to consult with some of the people involved in the Benghazi response.
Petraeus did a report on that trip, but Dianne Feinstein was complaining that her committee had not received a copy of it on November 12 (Petraeus was resisting, in part, because he no longer worked at CIA).
There’s no evidence that the House Intelligence Committee consulted Petraeus’ trip report when they did their report on the attack. (Indeed, the report shows remarkable lack of interest in Petraeus’ role altogether, in spite of the fact that he watched the later parts of the attack develop via the drone surveillance camera feed piped to the SCIF at his home.)
Did either of the Intelligence Committees ever get the report on the trip Petraeus did after he knew he was in trouble with the FBI, at a time when his ex-girlfriend was claiming the reason behind the attack was entirely different from what we’ve been told?
As I’ve noted, more than anyone else, current HPSCI Chair Devin Nunes showed significant interest in that claim about detainees, as reflected in the backup to a report that Mike Rogers made sure to get done before he left Nunes in charge. In response to his question (as well as some questions about arms-running) Nunes got non-denials denials.
In a related detail, in the earlier session Nunes also elicited a non-denial denial about detainees (and accusation first leveled by David Petraeus’ mistress Paula Broadwell), the other alleged reason for the attack on US entities in Benghazi.
Mr. Nunes: Okay. To the detainees, were there ever any detainees at either of these locations in the last year of any kind?
Mr. Morell: Not with regard to the CIA facility, sir.
Mr. Kennedy: And the State Department does not engage in detentions overseas.
Rather than just answering no, between them Morell and Kennedy carved out a space where it might be possible the CIA (or someone else, possibly JSOC) were holding detainees at the TMF or elsewhere in Benghazi.
Maybe Petraeus’ last minute trip to do a personal investigation of the aftermath of Benghazi — the results of which Petraeus resisted sharing with the Committees investigating the attack — is just a coinkydink.
But given the timing — and Petraeus’ sweetheart plea deal — it’d be nice if the Benghazi Committee asked a few more questions about that coinkydink. Continue reading
From what I’ve read, maybe about half of David Petraeus’ boosters are shocked about his plea deal — not so much that he pled guilty to a crime, I think, but the details about the kinds of sensitive materials he stored in a rucksack then passed on to his mistress. Perhaps, too, a few of them have qualms about a top official lying to the FBI (apparently unaware that Petraeus has been lying for years).
So the result has been that, even with a posse of PR hacks in the waiting, the response to his plea has been relatively muted.
Of course, that creates a problem for the people for whom Petraeus has been a necessary myth for years, a heroic biography on which to hang a narrative of benign conquest.
Enter Michael O’Hanlon.
It’s not so much that I’m surprised O’Hanlon has written this sappy hagiography. That’s what O’Hanlon does.
I’m amused with O’Hanlon’s failure to explain why he has chosen to write such a hagiography now, just after we’ve learned Petraeus was willing to compromise some of America’s most sensitive secrets to get laid, and then lied about it. “David Petraeus, National Hero” the title reads, followed by the sub-head, “His openness was his downfall.”
Fucking in private in exchange for sharing code word intelligence is “openness”?
But O’Hanlon probably didn’t even write that. If not, then the only hint in O’Hanlon’s slop of Petraeus’ betrayal of vows that the General was hailing even as he was lying about breaking his own is in his admission that, Petraeus “has just taken another hit in recent days,” as if getting special treatment for crimes others do decades in prison for is akin to the two incidents were Petraeus almost died that O’Hanlon has just lionized, though neither incident happened in combat.
I’m more amused than shocked by the way O’Hanlon tries to turn shrink-wrapping helicopters into a sexually charged act.
Petraeus wanted to talk mostly about shrink-wrapping helicopters. He knew that he might have to move the 101st Air Assault Division by train from Fort Campbell, Kentucky to the Atlantic seaboard in preparation for possible deployment to Iraq. We didn’t talk a lot about the high politics or military practicalities of an actual invasion in that conversation. You know the old saying, generals think logistics! And that is exactly where his mind was.
David Petraeus and your local UPS guy. “That’s logistics.”
Though I would have thought calling David Petraeus the best General since George Washington a little over the top, even for O’Hanlon.
To my mind, what he did in Iraq was probably the greatest complex accomplishment by any American general since Washington in the Revolutionary War. Sure, I’m biased, and sure, the stakes for the nation were lower in Iraq than in the world wars or Civil War and the achievements less durable in the face of future events. And for hardship in the field, those generals of earlier days usually had it much worse.
But in the need to combine knowledge of maneuver warfare, required for the taking-down of Saddam back in 2003, to the reinvigoration and refinement of proper counterinsurgency operations that Petraeus led in the field in 2007 (after writing the U.S. military’s manual on the subject with Marine Corps Lt. Gen. James Amos, the future Commandant, in 2006), to the mastery of Iraqi tribal and regional and national politics needed to bring all the pieces of the team together, to the handling of the Washington debate, there was something different about this war. It was simply more complicated, with more moving parts, and more things that had to go right to have any chance of success.
O’Hanlon’s conclusion, after imbuing Petraeus and his team of heroes with some great act in taking out Saddam and then managing the occupation well enough that it might have “any chance of success” is notable. Because this is where O’Hanlon ends this embarrassing project:
This dream team refashioned the Iraqi Security Forces and their leadership, then worked with them to bring down violence rates in Iraq an incredible 90 percent and give Iraqi leaders a chance to turn their country around. That change, tragically, was largely squandered in ensuing years, but Petraeus and Crocker et al gave them the chance. On balance, this was arguably the greatest military comeback in American history, after four successive years of losing the war.
The greatest military comeback in American history, according to Michael O’Hanlon, came when the same military leaders who had been losing that war for four successive years decided to bribe enough Sunnis so America could make a break for it and claim victory, a victory the lie of which was exposed when those same “refashioned Iraqi Security Forces and their leadership” turned and ran when faced by Iraq’s former officers teamed up with some of those same Sunnis now claiming radical Islamic sanction.
The greatness of America for the COINdinistas is now being hung on the claim that a General whose commitment to his vows (to secrecy, to say nothing of his own marriage) couldn’t withstand the promise of a good lay. And that General’s triumph is now measured in utter silence about the crimes for which he’ll go scot free, and in celebration for his ability to shrink wrap (or have shrink wrapped) helicopters and — after 4 years of losing — giving those we occupied “a chance.”
And this, to the COINdinistas, is the greatest accomplishment since Washington’s successful revolt against our own occupier Empire gave us, our idealized nation, far far more than “a chance.”
As a supine Congress sitting inside a scaffolded dome applauded Benjamin Netanyahu calling to reject a peace deal with Iran, DOJ quietly announced it had reached a plea deal with former CIA Director David Petraeus for leaking Top Secret/Secure Compartmented Information materials to his mistress, Paula Broadwell.
Among the materials in the eight “Black Books” Petraeus shared with Broadwell were:
…classified information regarding the identities of covert officers, war strategy, intelligence capabilities and mechanisms, diplomatic discussions, quotes and deliberative discussions from high-level National Security Council meetings, and defendant DAVID HOWELL PETRAEUS’s discussions with the President of the United States of America.
The Black Books contained national defense information, including Top Secret/SCI and code word information.
Petraeus kept those Black Books full of code word information including covert identities and conversations with the President “in a rucksack up there somewhere.”
Petreaus retained those Black Books after he signed his debriefing agreement upon leaving DOD, in which he attested “I give my assurance that there is no classified material in my possession, custody, or control at this time.” He kept those Black Books in an unlocked desk drawer.
For mishandling some of the most important secrets the nation has, Petraeus will plead guilty to a misdemeanor. Petraeus, now an employee of a top private equity firm, will be fined $40,000 and serve two years of probation.
He will not, however, be asked to plead guilty at all for lying to FBI investigators. In an interview on October 26, 2012, he told the FBI,
(a) he had never provided any classified information to his biographer, and (b) he had never facilitated the provision of classified information to his biographer.
For lying to the FBI — a crime that others go to prison for for months and years — Petraeus will just get a two point enhancement on his sentencing guidelines. The Department of Justice basically completely wiped away the crime of covering up his crime of leaking some of the country’s most sensitive secrets to his mistress.
When John Kiriakou pled guilty on October 23, 2012 to crimes having to do with sharing a single covert officer’s identity just days before Petraeus would lie to the FBI about sharing, among other things, numerous covert officers’ identities with his mistress, Petraeus sent out a memo to the CIA stating,
Oaths do matter, and there are indeed consequences for those who believe they are above the laws that protect our fellow officers and enable American intelligence agencies to operate with the requisite degree of secrecy.
David Petraeus is now proof of what a lie that statement was.
Think back to those heady days in the fall of 2007, when the ass-kissing little chickenshit David Petraeus returned from Iraq to Washington to defend his vaunted Iraq surge and to convince Congress to keep up the effort (while also shoring up political support for the Bush Administration, a long tradition for Petraeus). Perhaps because of all the false furor stirred up over the inane “General Betrayus” ad, Congress and the American public gave Petraeus and the military a pass despite a report card from GAO showing that by meeting only 3 of 18 benchmarks (pdf), the surge was an utter failure. As that document and other materials of the day pointed out repeatedly, the aim of the surge was to provide space for political reconciliation.
That effort, of course, failed miserably. Despite a relative stretch of peace, the Iraqi government that the US proudly hailed turned out to be brutally repressive and sectarian. And when the Sunni-led Islamic State invaded, Iraq’s military that Petraeus proudly trained (several times!) melted away, leaving as the final line of defense the Shia militias that Iraq never disbanded. Those militias promptly set about committing atrocities.
And so what is to be done now? The geniuses at the Pentagon have decided that all we have to do is to mend the Sunni-Shia rift in Iraq:
The U.S.-led air war against Islamic State militants has frozen the immediate threat from that group, and now is the time for Iraq’s Shi’ite-dominated government to mend its rift with disenfranchised Sunnis, U.S. military officials said on Tuesday.
“Quite frankly, we need to see in Iraq political outreach that addresses the fact that some 20 million Sunnis are disenfranchised with their government,” Lieutenant General William Mayville told a hearing on global threats facing the United States.
Inexplicably, not only did the next speaker, with an “intelligence” affiliation, not laugh at Mayville, he agreed with him:
Mark Chandler, acting director for intelligence for the Joint Staff, agreed, saying “one of the things that really concerns me going forward is if the Shi’ite forces believe that they can control ISIL (Islamic State) without reconciliation with the Sunnis.”
Okay, maybe it is too much for me to expect these guys to know that the Sunni-Shia rift started in 632 and has ebbed and flowed in the intervening thirteen hundred and eighty-some years. But these guys really should be aware of the kerfuffle just seven and a half years ago. Even paying just a tiny bit of attention to what the military and the Bush Administration were saying in the fall of 2007 and then following the thread of what happened on the reconciliation front in the intervening years should show them that this idea has zero chance of success.
Pinning hopes for success in Iraq on reconciliation didn’t work in 2007. Simply calling for it again while changing no other parts of US policy for the region is doomed to the same outcome.
At almost precisely the moment the FBI started investigating who was pestering Tampa Bay socialite Jill Kelley, an investigation that would lead to the resignation and investigation of David Petraeus, John McCain called for an investigation into top Obama officials leaking details of covert ops to make themselves look good.
Outraged by two recent articles published by the New York Times, which exposed the extent of U.S. involvement in cyberattacks made against Iran and the White House’s secret ‘Kill List,’ John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) took to the Senate floor to admonish the administration, and accuse it of widespread disregard for national security.
“The fact that this administration would aggressively pursue leaks by a 22-year-old Army private in the Wikileaks matter and former CIA employees in other leaks cases, but apparently sanction leaks made by senior administration officials for political purposes is simply unacceptable,” McCain said.
Now, McCain is outraged! that former top Obama official David Petraeus is getting the callous treatment given to those being investigated for leaks.
U.S. Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) today released the following statement on the handling of the investigation into former CIA Director David Petraeus:
“While the facts of the case involving General David Petraeus remain unknown and are not suitable for comment, it is clear that this investigation has been grievously mishandled.
“It is outrageous that the highly confidential and law enforcement-sensitive recommendation of prosecutors to bring charges against General Petraeus was leaked to the New York Times. It is a shameful continuation of a pattern in which leaks by unnamed sources have marred this investigation in contravention to fundamental fairness.
“No American deserves such callous treatment, let alone one of America’s finest military leaders whose selfless service and sacrifice have inspired young Americans in uniform and likely saved many of their lives.”
And of course, McCain had no problem when the first story about poor Petraeus’ treatment appeared in December, quoting lots of McCain’s buddies calling for justice! for Petraeus.
McCain (and his sidekick Lindsey) are not the only ones rending their garments over the injustice of a top Obama official being investigated for leaking classified details to make himself look good. Jason Chaffetz keeps complaining about it. And Dianne Feinstein took to the Sunday shows to declare that Petraeus has suffered enough. Richard Burr apparently made false claims about how the Espionage Act has been wielded, of late, even against those whose leaks caused no harm.
Golly, you’d think all these legislators might figure out they have the authority, as legislators, to fix the overly broad application of the Espionage Act.
Meanwhile, Eli Lake — who launched the campaign to Let Our General Go last month — has an odd story complaining about Petraeus’ treatment. To Lake’s credit, he mentions — though does not quote — how Petraeus celebrated John Kiriakou’s guilty plea. Here’s what Petraeus said then about the importance of respecting your vows to secrecy:
It marks an important victory for our agency, for our intelligence community, and for our country. Oaths do matter, and there are indeed consequences for those who believe they are above the laws that protect our fellow officers and enable American intelligence agencies to operate with the requisite degree of secrecy.
Lake also suggests Paula Broadwell’s job — writing fawning biographies of the man she was fucking — was the same as Bob Woodward’s.
What’s more, Broadwell herself was writing a second book on Petraeus. When Broadwell — a graduate of West Point — was writing her first biography of him, she was given access to top secret information covering the period in which Petraeus commanded allied forces in Afghanistan. This arrangement is common in Washington for established authors. Sources for Bob Woodward, whose books often disclose classified information that is provided to him through semi-official leaks, are not investigated for betraying state secrets.
Maybe it is, maybe Woodward is nothing more than a power-fucker. But it obscures the key difference (which should not be true but is) that when the White House sanctions a book, they get to sanction self-serving leaks for it.
Finally, Lake misstates something about selective treatment.
Senior officials such as Petraeus, who serve at the highest levels of the national security state, are almost never punished as harshly as low- and mid- level analysts who are charged with leaking. When former CIA director John Deutch was found to have classified documents on his unsecure home computer, he was stripped of his security clearance and charged with a misdemeanor.
An even better example — one not mentioned at all — is when Alberto Gonzales was found to have kept a CYA file, full of draft OLC memos and notes from a briefing on the illegal wiretap program, in a briefcase in his house. He resigned at the beginning of that investigation (and it has never been clear how much that played a role in his resignation; there are many interesting questions about Gonzales’ resignation that remain unanswered). But he suffered no consequences from keeping unbelievably sensitive documents at his house, aside from being denied the sinecure all other Bush officials got.
That said, that’s true of a lot of people in sensitive positions. Of the 40 witnesses who might be called against Jeffrey Sterling, for example, 6 have been found to have mistreated classified information (as has Sterling himself); that includes his direct supervisor while at CIA as well as 3 others cleared into the Merlin op (and I’m certain that doesn’t include Condi Rice, whose testimony the AIPAC defendants would have used to show how common leaking to the press was, nor does it include one other witness I strongly suspect has been involved in another big leak case). CIA withheld that detail from DOJ until right before the trial was due to start in 2011. But it does offer at least one metric of how common mistreating classified information is.
The prosecution of it, of course, is very selective. And that’s the problem, and David Petraeus’ problem, and Congress’ problem.
Yet that won’t ensure that Congress does anything to fix that problem with the means at their disposal, legislating a fix to stop the misuse of the Espionage Act. That’s because they like the overly broad use of it to cudgel leakers they don’t like. Just not the ones they’re particularly fond of.