More Benghazi Mendacity: Petraeus and the Ruling Class

 

Diana West has a must-read blog post that sheds further light on the Benghazi disaster. The focus is on the apparent mendacity of CIA Director Petraeus. West has been a thoughtful critic of the incompetence and deceit of the Obama administration’s Libyan policy from the beginning.

I found this post of special interest because West chronicles the lack of interest (to put it politely) or cover-up (to put it clearly) involved in the commentariat’s view of Petraeus’ role in the events surrounding the murders of four Americans on 9/11/12. She points out that the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have both given Petraeus a free pass. Obama and Hilary Clinton have been rightly criticized in the conservative press for their false accounts and failure to act. Why should we let Petraeus off the hook?

The New York Times is interested in making sure that the Obama administration is not blamed. But why would the WSJ and commentators such as Max Boot want to ignore Petraeus’ part in this disaster? I suspect it is misguided admiration of our senior military officials coupled with sympathy for the nation-building projects they serve.

Petraeus could not be bothered to attend the funerals of the murdered CIA contractors (his employees); he did find time to attend the premier of Argo. This shows us something about the character of our ruling class. It was more important for Petraeus to hang out with Ben Affleck and Huma Abedin than to honor the heroic deeds of Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.

The courage and decency of Woods and Doherty is not matched by any corresponding virtues on the part of decision-makers in the White House, the CIA, the Pentagon, or the State Department. Angelo Codevilla has pointed out that our Progressive ruling class includes the senior military officers who have been complicit in the largely unsuccessful policies pursued since 9/11/01. Here we see more proof to substantiate his argument.

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Members have made 33 comments.

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  1. Profile photo of Frozen Chosen Thatcher

    I’ve had concerns about Petraeus’ role in this debacle from the beginning and wrote a member post regarding his silence a few weeks ago.

    It appears that my fears regarding his leadership may have some basis in fact given how he has handled this crisis.

    • #1
    • November 4, 2012 at 1:04 am
  2. Profile photo of doc molloy Inactive

    Getting to the point..

    Claudia Rosett= Benghazi and the Missing Obama 9/11 Timeline

    “Where exactly was President Obama during those seven hours, 5 PM till midnight in Washington, on Sept. 11? He had no further appointments scheduled. He has released no pictures, provided no specifics. Was he in the situation room throughout? After the 5 PM directive, was he there at all? There are many questions about what orders did or did not issue from the White House, and who gave them, or didn’t, during the Sept. 11 Benghazi attack. But they all lead back to the president. He’s the commander-in-chief, as he reminded the country on Thursday, while campaigning in his Air Force One bomber jacket.On a normal evening, there may be no call for the American public to know exactly what their president does with his time. But this was no normal evening.”
    • #2
    • November 4, 2012 at 1:32 am
  3. Profile photo of Richard Finlay Member

    Other than dubious extrapolation from military competence to political sanity, I know of no reason to presume Petraeus’s political leanings. When I was in the Army (granted, about an eon ago) there were plenty of left-wing-ish officers, and there has always been a political reward structure for General Officers.

    • #3
    • November 4, 2012 at 1:42 am
  4. Profile photo of John Grant Contributor
    John Grant Post author

    Hi Richard,

    I don’t know if Petraeus will vote for Romney or Obama, but I am quite sure that he is comfortable with the general Progressive-Liberal consensus which animates the whole Democratic Party and the respectable, establishment, non-Tea Party Republicans. In other words, Petraeus is no friend to constitutionalism and he does not understand the principal purpose of government to be the security of American rights.

    Richard Finlay: Other than dubious extrapolation from military competence to political sanity, I know of no reason to presume Petraeus’s political leanings. When I was in the Army (granted, about an eon ago) there were plenty of left-wing-ish officers, and there has always been a political reward structure for General Officers. · 6 minutes ago
    • #4
    • November 4, 2012 at 1:57 am
  5. Profile photo of Trace Inactive

    107911590.jpgMr. and Mrs. Petraeus are statists. Full stop. I hope that Romney is not seduced by his military credentials into keeping him in place. I would rather see Leon Panetta reinstated at CIA than Petraeus.

    • #5
    • November 4, 2012 at 2:25 am
  6. Profile photo of doc molloy Inactive
    Diana West wrote back in March 2010
    DAVID PETRAEUS: NEOCONS

    “He also wrote a Ph.D. thesis at Princeton in 1987 called “The American military and the Lessons of Vietnam: A Study of Military Influence and the Use of Force in the Post-Vietnam Era.” One of his two faculty advisors, it is interesting to note was Stephen Walt—of Walt and Mearsheimer infamy (hat tip to Andrew Bostom). In his acknowledgements, Petraeus writes: “Professor Stephen Walt also deserves my gratitude. As my second faculty adviser–replacing Professor Barry Posen during the writing of my dissertation–Professor Walt offered numerous sound suggestions and comments. Like Professor Ullman, he displayed tremendous competence not only as an academic, but as a teacher as well.”

    Petraeus ain’t no neocon..

    • #6
    • November 4, 2012 at 2:29 am
  7. Profile photo of Retail Lawyer Member

    I doubt that association with this administration is good for one’s career. This seems at a minimum to be the last “public service” position Hillary, Susan Rice, Jay Carney, and now Petraeus are likely to hold.

    “The future must not belong to those who slander Islam”.

    • #7
    • November 4, 2012 at 2:42 am
  8. Profile photo of liberal jim Inactive

    Petraeus served as a yes man for Bush and serves in the same capacity for Obama. The differences between Obama and Bush and the Democrats and non-teaparty Republicans are matters of degree not substance.

    The cultures of members of the elites in State, Defense and Intelligence has been corrupted and honorable acts are rarely talked about let alone seen.

    Sen McCain stated on TV that on his trip to Libya, Stevens confided to him that DC was not providing adequate security. Yet when he returned to DC he said nothing and did nothing. Sen McCain is a member of the ruling elites in DC who are expert a little more than closing barn doors after the horses are long gone. I am not surprised by McCain’s incompetence, but his sharing it on FOX without realizing he was seems odd.

    Benghazi is the story about the corruption of the Obama administration, but it is also symptomatic far greater problems.

    • #8
    • November 4, 2012 at 2:56 am
  9. Profile photo of John Grant Contributor
    John Grant Post author

    You certainly are an optimist! If you are part of the ruling class, there are no negative consequences for incompetence; there are rarely any consequences for outright malfeasance.

    How many officials lost their jobs after the first 9/11 for failing to prevent a massive loss of American lives? Or consider Joe Biden–the man is a monument to how far one can go in American politics while possessing no apparent ability whatsoever. What is John McCain ever done that is noteworthy? John Kerry? Bush-43? Barack H. Obama?

    Gross incompetence has surely not hurt the careers of General Petraeus or Condoleeza Rice.

    Our ruling class are, for the most part, notable for their mediocrity.

    Retail Lawyer: I doubt that association with this administration is good for one’s career. This seems at a minimum to be the last “public service” position Hillary, Susan Rice, Jay Carney, and now Petraeus are likely to hold.

    “The future must not belong to those who slander Islam”. · 17 minutes ago

    • #9
    • November 4, 2012 at 3:09 am
  10. Profile photo of R. Craigen Inactive

    Officially the Petraeus absence at the funeral is for security reasons due to sensitive issues he was working on at the time. While I don’t get this — he could attend and keep his trap, er, mouth shut if that’s the concern — I accept it tentatively as a valid reason. For other reasons Petraeus has been a big disappointment, almost as big as Colin Powell.

    I don’t get the point about Rice. She has had her share of RINO-esque moments, and she’s dead wrong on some issues, but she’s still admirable in many respects, a smart leader and worthy of elevation to office (short of Sec State — I think this is not her time, and she’s got an unfortunate blind spot on the stealth Jihad). But incompetence? Let’s be careful what words we throw around.

    • #10
    • November 4, 2012 at 4:18 am
  11. Profile photo of Zafar Member

    Are some losses on the battlefield almost inevitable because of its nature rather than always due to incompetence or malice?

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-libya-cia-20121102,0,2438659.story

    From which:

    The Fox story also asserted that the CIA “chain of command” refused to pass along requests from its officers for military aid and that special operations forces in nearby Sicily could have been sent to help but were not. Intelligence andPentagon officials strenuously denied that Thursday.

    They insisted there was no viable military option to disrupt what amounted to a series of sporadic attacks in a crowded city full of people sympathetic to the U.S. There were no armed drones in the region and airstrikes were not called for, officials said.

    “Let’s say we were able to get an aircraft there. Do you go in and start strafing a populated area without knowing where friend or foe is?” a senior Defense official asked. “If you did that, you could kill the very people you are trying to help.”

    • #11
    • November 4, 2012 at 4:23 am
  12. Profile photo of Viator Member

    All the way back to Vietnam.

    • #12
    • November 4, 2012 at 4:23 am
  13. Profile photo of Albert Arthur Coolidge
    John Grant: What [has] John McCain ever done that is noteworthy?

    1 hour ago

    I assume that you of course mean, “what has John McCain done in Washington that is noteworthy.”

    You may also be conflating noteworthy with praiseworthy.

    McCain-Feingold is certainly noteworthy. Being the presidential nominee in 2008 is also noteworthy, even if he didn’t win.

    • #13
    • November 4, 2012 at 4:58 am
  14. Profile photo of Albert Arthur Coolidge

    I didn’t know that Petreus had not gone to the funerals. That’s somewhat upsetting. And noteworthy.

    • #14
    • November 4, 2012 at 5:01 am
  15. Profile photo of John Grant Contributor
    John Grant Post author

    Very good. McCain-Feingold was noteworthy for its attempt to suppress free speech.

    I am unaware of anything that McCain did before he went to D.C. that was impressive.

    Albert Arthur
    John Grant: What [has] John McCain ever done that is noteworthy?

    1 hour ago

    I assume that you of course mean, “what has John McCain donein Washingtonthat is noteworthy.”

    You may also be conflating noteworthy with praiseworthy.

    McCain-Feingold is certainly noteworthy. Being the presidential nominee in 2008 is also noteworthy, even if he didn’t win. · 19 minutes ago

    • #15
    • November 4, 2012 at 5:22 am
  16. Profile photo of James Of England Moderator
    John Grant: Very good. McCain-Feingold was noteworthy for its attempt to suppress free speech.

    I am unaware of anything that McCain did before he went to D.C. that was impressive.

    Albert Arthur
    John Grant: What [has] John McCain ever done that is noteworthy?

    1 hour ago

    I assume that you of course mean, “what has John McCain donein Washingtonthat is noteworthy.”

    You may also be conflating noteworthy with praiseworthy.

    McCain-Feingold is certainly noteworthy. Being the presidential nominee in 2008 is also noteworthy, even if he didn’t win. · 19 minutes ago

    1 minute ago

    Do you mean “since”? I sincerely hope that this is a typo. I’d be surprised if anyone on Ricochet went to more effort than me to keep him from becoming our nominee, and there are many unfortunate aspects to his pre-political life, but I’ve not often heard it suggested that there were no moments of valor.

    • #16
    • November 4, 2012 at 5:33 am
  17. Profile photo of Nick Stuart Thatcher
    John Grant: I am unaware of anything that McCain did before he went to D.C. that was impressive.

     

    18 minutes ago

    Being tortured as a prisoner of war and refusing early release (because his father had connections) insisting on going only when his turn came comes under the heading of impressive.

    John, with this throwaway snark you just incinerated your credibility. A retraction is in order.

    • #17
    • November 4, 2012 at 5:51 am
  18. Profile photo of liberal jim Inactive
    John Grant: Diana West has a must-read blog post 

    The courage and decency of Woods and Doherty is not matched by any corresponding virtues on the part of decision-makers in the White House, the CIA, the Pentagon, or the State Department. Angelo Codevilla has pointed out that our Progressive ruling class includes the senior military officers who have been complicit in the largely unsuccessful policies pursued since 9/11/01. Here we see more proof to substantiate his argument. · · 15 hours ago

    There must be more wrong with me than I suspected. The overriding question to me is, “Are Codevilla Claremont paper arguments valid and do the unfolding events surrounding Benghazi substantiate them?”If Codevilla is correct in his assertions the consequences are monumental and yet all the posts deal with relatively insignificant manusha regarding the relative accuracy of West’s blog and the preciseness of words used by Mr Grant.

    Is Ricochet turning into trivial pursuit or am I missing something?

    • #18
    • November 4, 2012 at 5:53 am
  19. Profile photo of Crow's Nest Member
    liberal jim: …Yet all the posts deal with relatively insignificant manusha regarding the relative accuracy of West’s blog and the preciseness of words used by Mr Grant. Is Ricochet turning into trivial pursuit or am I missing something? 

    The preciseness of the words debate was of his own making, but the relative accuracy of West’s blog post–or, to reframe this point: what evidence she presents us with for concluding that Petraeus lied in his testimony–goes directly to helping to determine whether the events in Benghazi substantiate Codevilla’s indictment of the entire “ruling class” or whether the problem is more narrowly confined than that.

    Thus, West has presented us with some information that we find deeply troubling–but I am not yet ready to conclude, on the basis of a Democratic Senator’s media statement which toed the same line his party had been towing from the President on down, that Petraeus lied in his testimony.

    It may very well mean that, or it might mean said Senator covered for the President in spite of the evidence. I’m left with a bunch of questions, some of which I posed.

    • #19
    • November 4, 2012 at 6:27 am
  20. Profile photo of Byron Horatio Member

    I do not have great impressions of Petraeus. He has blamed Israel in great measure for jihadism. He showed grove long weakness in dressing in full Afghan garb, a point of great ridicule from Mark Steyn. And as commander in Afghanistan, apparently did nothing to change the suicidal rules of engagement and training with Afghan partners. Count me not a fan.

    • #20
    • November 4, 2012 at 6:39 am
  21. Profile photo of liberal jim Inactive
    Crow’s Nest
    liberal jim: …Yet all the posts deal with relatively insignificant manusha regarding the relative accuracy of West’s blog and the preciseness of words used by Mr Grant. Is Ricochet turning into trivial pursuit or am I missing something? 

    Thus, West has presented us with some information that we find deeply troubling–but I am not yet ready to conclude, on the basis of a Democratic Senator’s media statement which toed the same line his party had been towing from the President on down, that Petraeus lied in his testimony.

    Sen McCain has indicated he agrees with the Senators characterization of the testimony and is disappointed in the General. If that is your true concern.West’s blog aside it appears to me we have senior military, diplomatic and intelligence officials scurrying around playing CYA rather than honorable people upholding the oaths they took to the Constitution. 

    As I said it appears to me that either Obama is being truthful (I have discarded this option) or the fact that no senior non-political person has step forward to tell the truth on the record speaks volumes about the validity of Codevilla’s arguments.

    • #21
    • November 4, 2012 at 7:03 am
  22. Profile photo of Morituri Te Member

    As I’ve said a few times, we need new elites. The old ones are corrupt and worn out. Let’s just throw them all out and start over.

    • #22
    • November 4, 2012 at 7:28 am
  23. Profile photo of MMPadre Inactive

    “But why would the WSJ and commentators such as Max Boot want to ignore Petraeus’ part in this disaster?” 

    As someone who has long been not a fan of Max Boot, his reasoning has often seemed obscure at best.

    • #23
    • November 4, 2012 at 8:08 am
  24. Profile photo of Karen Member

    John Grant, are you kidding?! When McCain was sent on that fateful mission, he realized they had a radar locked on him. He could’ve of abandoned his mission, pulled out and saved himself. But he finished his mission, knowing it would likely cost him his life. If that is not the very definition of valor, I don’t know what is.

    • #24
    • November 4, 2012 at 8:13 am
  25. Profile photo of Crow's Nest Member
    liberal jim Sen McCain has indicated he agrees with the Senators characterization of the testimony and is disappointed in the General. If that is your true concern.West’s blog aside it appears to me we have senior military, diplomatic and intelligence officials scurrying around playing CYA rather than honorable people upholding the oaths they took to the Constitution. 

    This is also how the situation appears to me.

    My concern is to have evidence before we start issuing blanket indictments. I want those who have failed and who have been complicit held accountable–but I also want to have evidence that the right people are held accountable.

    Steve Hayes is reporting over at the Weekly Standard a similar account of the Petraeus hearing to that of West–although, at least in the public letters his office has issued, McCain has not exactly confirmed West’s piece: he seems to be saying they were stonewalled, not outrightly lied to (though an argument can be made that this stonewalling is complicity)

    I take the charges seriously because they aren’t just rhetorical or academic to me: these things ultimately weigh, in my judgment, on the fitness of someone to hold office.

    • #25
    • November 4, 2012 at 8:23 am
  26. Profile photo of flownover Inactive

    Tjhat was informative, and Trace’s comment about Mrs Petraeus even more so. I guess that the media has been fairly effective showing the cover . Sort of wondered why Obama would appoint him,becomes more obvious now. And the beat goes on. fie on both their agencies

    • #26
    • November 4, 2012 at 8:48 am
  27. Profile photo of Karen Member

    I don’t know who this Diana West is or what credibility she has, since she appears to only source public info and press reports, but before we start calling Petreaus a liar, we need to keep some things in mind. First, if a CIA Director gives a briefing before the House Intelligence Committee, that testimony is classified. If someone like that ranking Democrat reveals classified testimony, he’s breaking the law. The Congressman was using the briefing to support the Administrations story. We do not know what Petreaus actually said. This may sound shocking, but sometimes politicians lie to the press. And finally, it is not the CIA Director’s job to keep the public informed about past or active CIA operations, doing so could compromise future missions. His silence speaks volumes about the Obama’s false narrative.

    • #27
    • November 4, 2012 at 8:52 am
  28. Profile photo of liberal jim Inactive
    Crow’s Nest
    liberal jim

    This is also how the situation appears to me.

    My concern is to have evidence before we start issuing blanket indictments. I want those who have failed and who have been complicit held accountable–but I also want to have evidence that the right people are held accountable.

    I think we can agree that the “Benghazi video story” was a sham and that Petraeus had to know it was a sham from day one. We can further agree that neither of us knows precisely what his testimony was.If his testimony contradicted the administration story any Senator could have come out of the hearing and said based on Petraeus’ testimony he had conclude that the President was purposely presenting a false story to the American people. Since no Senator did I assume his testimony generally bolstered the sham.

    I am not interested in the indictment of any individual. Codevilla’s argument implies that most senior career officials would have been less than honorable and truthful in this situation just as Petraeus appears to have been and that has far more serious implications.

    • #28
    • November 4, 2012 at 9:00 am
  29. Profile photo of Karen Member

    And what makes Holly Petreaus a statist for wanting to protect the personal information, identities, and financial health of our service members? Predatory lenders and identity thieves go after active duty members, because they are easy targets. If a service member has serious financial problems, it becomes a potential issue with his security clearance, which can keep him from doing his job.

    • #29
    • November 4, 2012 at 9:18 am
  30. Profile photo of Trace Inactive

    Holly Petreaus is a statist because she mistrusts markets and believes government knows best. Because she calls marketing “targeting” and is a founding member of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and a disciple of Elizabeth Warren. Because she believes government knows better than consumers what choices they ought to make.

    Karen: And what makes Holly Petreaus a statist for wanting to protect the personal information, identities, and financial health of our service members? Predatory lenders and identity thieves go after active duty members, because they are easy targets. If a service member has serious financial problems, it becomes a potential issue with his security clearance, which can keep him from doing his job. · 10 minutes ago
    • #30
    • November 4, 2012 at 9:37 am
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