Breaking: Petraeus collapses briefly in Congressional testimony; Update: Video added

He’s apparently okay now, but this certainly puts a fright into those supporting the war efforts in Afghanistan and the drawdown in Iraq.  General David Petraeus had to be excused from Congressional testimony earlier today after briefly collapsing:

U.S. General David Petraeus, who briefly collapsed during a Senate hearing on the war in Afghanistan Tuesday morning, is alert and doing well, according to reports.

Petraeus, 57, had finished telling Sen. John McCain that he believes the planned 2011 drawdown of U.S. troops remains on track, and McCain was responding when the room fell silent and aides began crowding around the four-star general.

Petraeus, who oversees the war in Iraq and Afghanistan as head of U.S. Central Command, briefly put his head on the table, then rose, appearing dazed. He stood under his own power and was escorted from the room.

Sen. Carl Levin, the chairman, suspended the hearing until Wednesday out of concern for Petraeus’ health.

Petraeus recovered enough to joke a little about the incident:

Petraeus himself returned to the room briefly and told the senators he “was feeling a little bit light-headed there.”

“It wasn’t Sen. McCain’s question,” the general added.

Petraeus is widely regarded as a genius after rescuing the American position in Iraq in 2007.  George Bush promoted him to command of the overall war effort in 2008, and his counterinsurgency strategies are core to the current US mission in Afghanistan.  The loss of Petraeus, even temporarily, could mean serious setbacks in strategic efforts.  As the most well-known general since Colin Powell, a temporary absence could also impact popular confidence in the war effort, which Barack Obama doesn’t need at this critical juncture in Afghanistan.

Hopefully, Petraeus just had a low blood sugar moment or a passing migraine, rather than anything more serious.

Update: CBS News has a video clip of the hearing and the collapse:


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John McCain’s reaction is telling.