Petraeus to CIA?

posted at 10:55 am on April 5, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Don’t get me wrong — if David Petraeus really wants to trade in his uniform to be the chief second in command in the American intelligence community, he’s earned the privilege of choosing his next assignment.  The general who redefined asymmetrical warfare for the US military and successfully applied counterinsurgency strategies in two difficult wars has leadership credibility for any job that suits his fancy.  However, NPR’s report on rumors around the campfire fails to explain why Petraeus would want the job, or why anyone else would want him anywhere else than where he is at a critical moment of the Af-Pak war:

General David Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, is expected to leave that job by early fall. And the question has been, where does he go from there?

Several sources, including government officials, say Petraeus is being seriously considered for CIA director, and would take the job if offered.

The current spy chief, Leon Panetta, is currently seen as the top replacement for Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who says he will step down this year.

Not to be too cliché, but the position of CIA Director isn’t what it used to be.  Prior to the ill-advised restructuring of the American intelligence services in 2004, the CIA Director had full command of the agency and reported directly to the President.  Now the position supposedly reports to the Director of National Intelligence, although the appointment of Panetta and subsequent food fights between Panetta and Dennis Blair created major problems for Barack Obama in 2010.  Why would a man used to having full command of a battlefield for the last several years settle for a murky second position and uncertain access to the President?

For that matter, why would the White House want Petraeus to leave his current position?  Before Stanley McChrystal got more or less cashiered, they had a succession plan for their COIN all-star.  With rising discontent over the war, Obama needs to have the perceived A-team in charge, and not just for public relations purposes.  Petraeus has irreplaceable credibility on that score, but perhaps irreplaceable brilliance in this particular type of war.  Obama cannot afford setbacks in this theater, especially not after the gains made over the last year or so on the ground, unless he’s looking for a way out — and he’s had plenty of opportunity to retreat already, and could retreat with or without Petraeus in place.  To his credit, Obama hasn’t used those opportunities.

Petraeus has enough popularity after his heroic work in two theaters of war that any administration would want to find a place for him when he’s ready to come home from the front.  This position seems like a poor fit in many ways.


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Caesar in the making?

CrazyGene on April 5, 2011 at 10:57 AM

NO!!

coldwarrior on April 5, 2011 at 10:58 AM

For that matter, why would the White House want Petraeus to leave his current position?

For the same reason they wanted HRC in as SECSTATE? Giving someone a job that their ego couldn’t refuse and then rendering them powerless within it? that’s how HRC was brought into the tent and kept close, but presidentially at bay, for the last couple years. May be similar for GEN Petraeus? At least, the thought process may be similar if the two situations are not altogether different. That being said, GEN Petraeus would have to retire IOT fill the CIA slot, I believe.

ted c on April 5, 2011 at 11:00 AM

CIA is going to take the fall for something in the next few years and who better to be the “fall guy” than someone other than a democrat?

plans.

ted c on April 5, 2011 at 11:03 AM

That being said, GEN Petraeus would have to retire IOT fill the CIA slot, I believe.

ted c on April 5, 2011 at 11:00 A

CIA has had a number of active duty general officers as Directors. The latest, Mike Hayden, was active duty Air Force while DCI.

coldwarrior on April 5, 2011 at 11:06 AM

Another anti-free speech elitist bureaucrat. Sure, why not.

rrpjr on April 5, 2011 at 11:06 AM

“Willing suspension of disbelief”

SouthernGent on April 5, 2011 at 11:08 AM

Another anti-stupid-death-bringing-free speech elitist bureaucrat. Sure, why not.

rrpjr on April 5, 2011 at 11:06 AM

FIFY

unclesmrgol on April 5, 2011 at 11:09 AM

No matter how the deck is reshuffled it isn’t going to help as long as Obama is the top dog. The DNI should be eliminated along with DHS or else the food fights continue.

fourdeucer on April 5, 2011 at 11:11 AM

CIA has had a number of active duty general officers as Directors. The latest, Mike Hayden, was active duty Air Force while DCI.

coldwarrior on April 5, 2011 at 11:06 AM

Oh, that’s right. I thought it was exclusively a civilian post. Thanks for clarifying.

ted c on April 5, 2011 at 11:13 AM

Why sully his reputation with this? I don’t get it.

Rational Thought on April 5, 2011 at 11:17 AM

Rational Thought on April 5, 2011 at 11:17 AM

Cause the republicans like him and want him to run for president down the road. Maybe he’s taking out the competition for down the road.

Zero doesn’t care about this guy anymore than he cares about anybody else but himself as long as zero thinks he looks good, why care about anybody else?

Brat4life on April 5, 2011 at 11:22 AM

More disturbing is Panetta as Defense Secretary.

sandee on April 5, 2011 at 11:22 AM

His comments on the Fla. pastor tells me he is more political
and less General than before.

lilium on April 5, 2011 at 11:29 AM

I’m more concerned about the news that Panetta is likely to replace Gates.

Lourdes on April 5, 2011 at 11:41 AM

Petraeus has figured out that there will be no rational long-term strategy in the Af-Pak theater, and that what strategy there is will be based on perceived domestic political exigencies. In short, Obama will cut and run, rendering in many respects the blood and treasure spent there an exercise in futility. Why stick around for the brutal dénouement?

Bush didn’t get it, and certainly Obama doesn’t get it. Unless we are prepared to engage in neo-colonialism in Afghanistan, we should never have planned on anything except a short term punitive mission, with the understanding that such missions would have to be repeated every time the Islamist terrorist scum of al Qaeda and the Taliban crawled out from under their rocks and threatened the free world.

There is no easy way out. There is NO WAY OUT. There is no end to the war on Islamist terrorists.

novaculus on April 5, 2011 at 11:41 AM

More disturbing is Panetta as Defense Secretary.

sandee on April 5, 2011 at 11:22 AM

Ah, I now see I’m not alone in my concern about that.

Lourdes on April 5, 2011 at 11:41 AM

For the same reason they wanted HRC in as SECSTATE? Giving someone a job that their ego couldn’t refuse and then rendering them powerless within it? ***

ted c on April 5, 2011 at 11:00 AM

I’ve not gotten the impression that Petraeus is a guy with a Hillary Clinton-sized ego who is power hungry. I’m not naive to believe that he’s just a hard-workin, average-Joe (few four-star generals are), but I’ve never gotten a sense of grandstanding from him that I’ve seen from other generals.

Outlander on April 5, 2011 at 11:42 AM

His comments on the Fla. pastor tells me he is more political and less General than before.

lilium on April 5, 2011 at 11:29 AM

I agree that Patreaus’ remarks about that guy were disturbing. He ALSO referred to the Quran as “the holy Quran.” Disturbing.

Lourdes on April 5, 2011 at 11:42 AM

For the same reason they wanted HRC in as SECSTATE? Giving someone a job that their ego couldn’t refuse and then rendering them powerless within it? ***

ted c on April 5, 2011 at 11:00 AM

I’ve not gotten the impression that Petraeus is a guy with a Hillary Clinton-sized ego who is power hungry. I’m not naive to believe that he’s just a hard-workin, average-Joe (few four-star generals are), but I’ve never gotten a sense of grandstanding from him that I’ve seen from other generals.

Outlander on April 5, 2011 at 11:42 AM

Our nation could do far, far worse than Patreaus to head the Agency. I’m not his detractor, not in any way…

Panetta is the real concern here.

Lourdes on April 5, 2011 at 11:44 AM

I was never on the Petraeus for Prez bandwagon. This reinforces that view.

Y-not on April 5, 2011 at 11:46 AM

Outlander on April 5, 2011 at 11:42 AM

I completely agree and hedged my comment in that direction. However, from the WH point of view, if Petraeus happened to be a 2012 contender, what better way to keep them out of contention than by giving them a job that renders them subservient to the president, at least that’s what it appeared to be for Hillary right up until Libya. She didn’t do diddly squat as SECSTATE until a few weeks back until she became de facto POTUS along with Sarkozy. my 2c.

ted c on April 5, 2011 at 11:50 AM

ted c on April 5, 2011 at 11:00 AM

HRC is going to primary Barry’s azz.

katy the mean old lady on April 5, 2011 at 11:50 AM

Again . . . we are seeing the making of an Obama shill.

rplat on April 5, 2011 at 11:58 AM

The general who redefined asymmetrical warfare for the US military and successfully applied counterinsurgency strategies in two difficult wars

Iraq and Afghanistan are successful? But didn’t Terry Jones just wipe out 10 years of “success” by reminding Muslims that they are Muslims?

BL@KBIRD on April 5, 2011 at 12:01 PM

The King’s ego vs The Man.
Is anyone else surprised?

Hening on April 5, 2011 at 12:09 PM

More disturbing is Panetta as Defense Secretary.

sandee on April 5, 2011 at 11:22 AM

Ah, I now see I’m not alone in my concern about that.

Lourdes on April 5, 2011 at 11:41 AM

Good grief, add this to the Gorelick rumors and it’s a chilling look at where little Bammie will be going in the next couple years.

slickwillie2001 on April 5, 2011 at 12:11 PM

Petraeus has irreplaceable credibility on that score, but perhaps irreplaceable brilliance in this particular type of war. Obama cannot afford setbacks in this theater, especially not after the gains made over the last year or so on the ground,

Wow Ed, you need to get out more. Please quantify for me those gains we’ve made over the past year. Afghanistan is good for only one thing, it’s a great place to kill bad guys without actually damaging anything worthwhile.

Tactically we can swack these guys by the bucket full, more if we’d actually use all the firepower available. But, operationally and strategically COIN in Afghanistan has been an abject failure. It’s not Iraq. I’d suggest reading Bing Wests’ latest book, “The Wrong War.”

I don’t know how much of the COIN/ROE business to attribute to Petraeus and how much he is constrained by political direction. But to say we can’t spare him because of this brilliant strategy is nonsensical.

SoonerMarine on April 5, 2011 at 12:13 PM

I’d rather see Patraeus as DecDef… Soldiers and spooks (what we call “Intel Types”) is never a good match…

Khun Joe on April 5, 2011 at 12:14 PM

Based on his ROE and his recent comments, I had thought he was a better fit for Muslim Outreach at NASA.

james23 on April 5, 2011 at 12:16 PM

Bad choice. If anyone cares to look, his ideas about counter insurgency failed in Iraq and they are certainly failing in Afghanistan…he is a politician and to me he is going down the path of appeasing Islamist views…Where is General Patton when we need him

georgealbert on April 5, 2011 at 12:17 PM

Why stick around for the brutal dénouement?
novaculus on April 5, 2011 at 11:41 AM

Great question, the final outcome no matter who is at the helm gets to inherit all the errors but the victory will be pyrrhic at best.

fourdeucer on April 5, 2011 at 12:21 PM

An army man into a civilian agency and a civilian as Secretary of Defense. Eh?

Fortunata on April 5, 2011 at 12:21 PM

I can’t imagine wanting to be anywhere near D.C. and see the inter workings (or nonworkings) of that city.

Cindy Munford on April 5, 2011 at 12:22 PM

Not to be too cliché, but the position of CIA Director isn’t what it used to be.

Come on Ed! Someone with your background ought to be able to use the word “cliche” as a noun, not a verb! You give your analysis a big double whammy as it’s off the mark anyway!

tomshup on April 5, 2011 at 12:23 PM

..settle for a murky second position and uncertain access to the President?

Did the General have access to the President all that often when he was a general?

andycanuck on April 5, 2011 at 12:23 PM

slickwillie2001 on April 5, 2011 at 12:11 PM

I suspect the Gorelick rumor was leaked to make Obama’s real candidate appear more reasonable by comparison.

novaculus on April 5, 2011 at 12:34 PM

From BHO’s perspective, it’s Godfather logic with respect to Petraeus: keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.

allanbourdius on April 5, 2011 at 12:50 PM

Why does everyone assume Petraeus is any different than a Scott Brown or an Arlen Specter Republican?

sharrukin on April 5, 2011 at 1:02 PM

Why would he have to trade in his uniform? Michael Hayden didn’t.

Personally I think Obama is trying to keep Petraeus from retiring and spilling what he knows about the administration.

baldilocks on April 5, 2011 at 1:18 PM

CIA has had a number of active duty general officers as Directors. The latest, Mike Hayden, was active duty Air Force while DCI.

coldwarrior on April 5, 2011 at 11:06 AM

Should have known you’d mention it. How ya doing?

baldilocks on April 5, 2011 at 1:20 PM

why anyone else would want him anywhere else

Why would anyone want Leon Panetta in that role? Because this community organizer administration has no clue what its doing.

vcferlita on April 5, 2011 at 1:30 PM

Hot Air is using NPR as a source for an article? Did you guys run out of material or something, or do you write about anything that comes up on The Drudge Report because you are too lazy to do your own leg work?

woodNfish on April 5, 2011 at 1:49 PM

Should have known you’d mention it. How ya doing?

baldilocks on April 5, 2011 at 1:20 PM

Doin’ OK these days. How’ve you been? Have missed your contributions. Seems a lot of the old crew has vanished, with but a few filtering back in from time to time.

Now, about that book? :-)

coldwarrior on April 5, 2011 at 2:08 PM

For that matter, why would the White House want Petraeus to leave his current position?

So he wouldn’t run against them.

Schadenfreude on April 5, 2011 at 3:18 PM

Doin’ OK these days. How’ve you been? Have missed your contributions. Seems a lot of the old crew has vanished, with but a few filtering back in from time to time.

coldwarrior on April 5, 2011 at 2:08 PM

They went gulching.

Schadenfreude on April 5, 2011 at 3:20 PM

Now, about that book? :-)

coldwarrior on April 5, 2011 at 2:08 PM

The new book? Still working on it. :)

baldilocks on April 5, 2011 at 3:59 PM

Based on his ROE and his recent comments, I had thought he was a better fit for Muslim Outreach at NASA.

james23 on April 5, 2011 at 12:16 PM

This.

(They can shoot a Koran to the Moon to claim the satellite for the Ummah as a gesture of conciliation.)

profitsbeard on April 5, 2011 at 4:36 PM

Petraeus, Gates in a uniform…

Schadenfreude on April 5, 2011 at 4:45 PM

He’ll re-orient the intelligence community to monitor and prevent offensive conduct against Islam eg. Koran burning.

wraithby on April 5, 2011 at 5:16 PM

Coddling
Islam
Always?

profitsbeard on April 5, 2011 at 7:18 PM

Don’t get me wrong — if David Petraeus really wants to trade in his uniform to be the chief second in command in the American intelligence community, he’s earned the privilege of choosing his next assignment.

His next assignment should be spending the rest of his life in a small cell in Leavenworth where he could read and kiss and fondle a copy of the koran.

The general who redefined asymmetrical warfare for the US military and successfully applied counterinsurgency strategies in two difficult wars has leadership credibility for any job that suits his fancy.

Iraq is a real stretch and if you think that his “strategy” in Afghanistan has been a success then you must reside in an alternate reality in an alternate dimension.

Heckle on April 5, 2011 at 9:07 PM

If any in the Senate or House are at all serious about defending America and America’s Constitutional protections, and take their own oaths of office at all seriously, the first thing they will do, after passing a resolution telling Karzai we are pulling out of Charlie Foxtrot Afcrapistan ASAP (defunding the whole Bridge on the River Kwai, Mad Hatter, anti-American and un-Godly mess), is to pass a resolution demanding the immediate court martial of one David Petraues for repeatedly violating his oath of office to protect and defend the United States Constitution, gross dereliction of duty, giving aid and comfort to the enemy, and behavior unbecoming a military officer, not to mention grossly unbecoming a man and a human being. Jane Fonda never gave nearly the aid and comfort to the enemy as has one David Petraues. Not even anywhere close. Petraeus should be sentenced to replace LTC Lakin, Obama’s first political prisoner, at Leavenworth where he can spend the rest of his days spitting on a copy of the United States Constitution and reading, kissing and fondling his own personal copy of the Koran.

Heckle on April 5, 2011 at 9:10 PM

Patton would spit on Petraues.

Heckle on April 5, 2011 at 9:12 PM

The Founding Fathers would spit on Petraues. He is as anti-American as they make them and places the lives of his own troops as inferior to muslim lives. He is so low that all other lots he should envy.

Heckle on April 5, 2011 at 9:14 PM

Petraeus, Gates Jane Fonda and CAIR in a uniform…

Schadenfreude on April 5, 2011 at 4:45 PM

Heckle on April 5, 2011 at 9:15 PM

Best not to go into what Charles Martel would do to Petraeus.

Heckle on April 5, 2011 at 9:20 PM

From an interview with Ann Barnhardt, the brave woman who made the koran burning video.

IOTW- What do you think of General Petreus and his assertion that inciting Islam puts our soldiers in harm’s way?

Ann – I have an offer for General Petreus. I’ll GIVE him one of my balls. Then I’d still have two, and he would have one. He is a politicking coward who cares only about his pension and cashing in on his rank after he retires. The suicidal, defeatist Rules of Engagement he oversees are the unequivocal proof of that. He should resign in disgrace – yesterday, and then present himself to each and every family of our war dead and BEG their forgiveness for failing in his duty as their son or daughter’s commanding officer.

Heckle on April 5, 2011 at 9:31 PM