Petraeus at CIA and Panetta at Pentagon: more of the same and worse

Wayne Madsen
Strategic Culture Foundation

Plans by President Obama to name General David Petraeus, the current commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, to be Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, replacing Leon Panetta, who will move to the Pentagon as Secretary of Defense, not only represents a continuation of America’s war policy but will result in an increase in America’s bellicose foreign policy around the world. Petraeus’s reign at the CIA also represents the further militarization of the CIA, a process that began when President George W. Bush appointed General Michael Hayden, the former Director of the National Security Agency (NSA) and Deputy Director of National Intelligence, to replace George Tenet, as CIA director. Hayden’s dual military-civilian role at the CIA forced Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to order the uniform-clad Hayden to retire from the Air Force and shed the uniform while serving as CIA director.

Petraeus, considered an “academic general” by combat troops who have served under him, comes to the CIA after launching bloody military “surges” against insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. A product of the elitist Woodrow Wilson School of International and Public Affairs at Princeton University, Petraeus has been a long-time favorite of neo-conservative nationalistic American political leaders like Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman. Petraeus’s actual front line combat experience as a flag-rank officer is so thin and his leadership qualities so political in nature, many of his troops have called him General “Betray Us.”

Petraeus’s first actual experience commanding troops in combat was when he served as commander of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division in its 2003 assault on Baghdad. In his subsequent role as commander of the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq (MSTCI) under the U.S. “viceroy” for Iraq, Coalition Provisional Authority chief Paul “Jerry” Bremer, a prized underling of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Petraeus was in charge of training Iraqi security forces in the ill-advised neo-conservative “de-Baathification” process. The Iraqi security training program was rife with contract fraud and placing Petraeus at the CIA runs the risk that the previous levels of contract fraud at the CIA, witnessed during the tenure of Porter Goss, will return to the halls of Langley, Virginia.

Three top generals in Iraq, including Petraeus, all supporters of the Iraq occupation and “surge” policies crafted by the neo-conservative nest of conspirators at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, were implicated in contract fraud in occupied Iraq. U.S. veterans of the Iraq occupation stated that there was no guidance from the US-run Civilian Police Assistance Training (CPAT) program on issuing police equipment to the Iraqi police. The Iraqi police training program involved three U.S. Army generals -- Joseph Fil, the Commanding General of the CPAT team; Kevin Bergner, the deputy commander of coalition forces in northwestern Iraq in 2005; and Petraeus, the MSTCI commander. However, Petraeus faced no criminal probe over the training malfeasance, with ethics-tainted Senator McCain frequently lauding the record of the "great General Petraeus."

One warehouse run by Lee Dynamics International (LDI) was to procure, store, and distribute equipment for the Iraqi police. However, the contract, for which LDI received billions of dollars, was non-existent because it was Iraqi police officials, not LDI personnel, who were in charge of the LDI warehouse. Petraeus, who was in charge of CPAT and MSTCI, did not ensure any accountability for LDI and other contractors. LDI, formerly known as American Logistics Services, was suspended by the U.S. Army after it was caught paying bribes to US Army officers in Kuwait. In December 2006, Major Gloria Davis, a U.S. Army contracting officer in Kuwait, allegedly shot herself in a suicide after being accused of accepting $225,000 in bribes from LDI. The firm was also accused of paying bribes to Army officers in Iraq who were in charge of training the Iraqi police. The officers identified in the investigation of LDI worked closely with Petraeus.

Days before his supposed suicide by a "self-inflicted" gunshot wound in a Camp Dublin, Iraq trailer, West Point Honor Board member and Iraqi police and security forces trainer Col. Ted Westhusing reported in e-mail to the United States that "terrible things were going on in Iraq." He also said he hoped he would make it back to the United States alive. Westhusing had three weeks left in his tour of duty in Iraq when he allegedly shot himself in June 2005.

It is noteworthy that after Westhusing's death, two top Army generals, both responsible for training Iraqi forces, Petraeus and Fil, the then-Commander of the 1st Cavalry Division, were quickly transferred without much fanfare to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and Fort Hood, Texas, respectively.

It is with Petraeus’s legacy of fraud; waste; abuse; indiscriminant targeting of civilians; possible acquiescence in the murder of witnesses, including American citizens; and adoption of neo-conservative “New American Century” imperialistic dogma, that Obama has decided to place the CIA under his Afghanistan commander’s control.

The appointment of the author of military “surge” tactics and the associated disregard for civilian casualties through the use of drone attacks and Special Forces assassination operations, means that the CIA will be persuaded to sign on to the Petraeus doctrine of “kill first and ask no questions later.” A clear sign that the Obama administration will continue an aggressive military approach in Afghanistan is the appointment of Petraeus’s old “surge” partner in Iraq, Ryan Crocker, the former ambassador in Baghdad, as the new American ambassador in Kabul . Crocker replaces retired General Karl Eikenberry, known to be a critic of Obama’s and Petraeus’s policies in Afghanistan. With former Democratic Congressman Panetta replacing Gates at the Pentagon, the Obama administration is clearly seeking to stamp its own imprimatur on the Pentagon. Outgoing Defense Secretary Gates resisted White House desires to put “boots on the ground” in Obama’s new war zones, including Libya and elsewhere.

Petraeus, as commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, the Central Command (CENTCOM) area of responsibility – which extends form Egypt to Pakistan – and Afghanistan, has been an advocate of Israeli-style “pre-emptive” military action, beyond traditional counter-insurgency tactics that take into consideration “winning of the hearts and minds” of both combatants and civilians in conflict zones.

Petraeus’s almost maniacal approach to the killing of civilians was evidenced when he offended Afghan President Hamid Karzai after Petraeus suggested that Afghan parents may have burned their own children in order to exaggerate deaths and casualties arising from a NATO strike on a village in Konar Province in northeastern Afghanistan this past February. Petraeus casually dismissed charges that his forces had targeted children and women, angering Karzai and other Afghan government officials. Petraeus also continued to wage a civilian casualty-intensive covert ground and drone war in neighboring Pakistan, angering that nation’s government.

Petraeus’s record as commander of CENTCOM and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) for Afghanistan actually severely damaged U.S. relations with Afghanistan and Pakistan. Normally, such a poor military and diplomatic record would ensure a quick retirement for Petraeus. However, Obama, who has bent over backward to please America’s military-industrial-intelligence complex, has saw fit to name Petraeus to head the CIA.

As far as Panetta, a former White House chief of staff for President Clinton in concerned, military veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq agree: Panetta will be a political “hack” cheerleader for the White House and he will raise no objections to continued American military adventurism around the world, from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Libya, sub-Sahara Africa, Latin America, the Arabian peninsula, and Iran.

Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist, author and syndicated columnist. He has written for several renowned papers and blogs.

Madsen is a regular contributor on Russia Today. He has been a frequent political and national security commentatoron Fox News and has also appeared on ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, and MS-NBC. Madsen has taken on Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity on their television shows. He has been invited to testifty as a witness before the US House of Representatives, the UN Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and an terrorism investigation panel of the French government.

As a U.S. Naval Officer, he managed one of the first computer security programs for the U.S. Navy. He subsequently worked for the National Security Agency, the Naval Data Automation Command, Department of State, RCA Corporation, and Computer Sciences Corporation.

Madsen is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), Association for Intelligence Officers (AFIO), and the National Press Club. He is a regular contributor to Opinion Maker.



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