Thursday, December 20, 2012

General Petraeus and the Neo-Con connection

This is like something from one of us crazy conspiracy theorists.

Seriously, you can't make this stuff up.

From Chris Matthews at MSNBC:

Fred and Kimberly Kagan are hawks. They share the ideology of those who backed the Iraq War. Why are they on the inside of an administration elected based on its opposition to the Iraq war?

I am one of those who believed from square one that the war in Iraq was an ideological war pushed from the outset by those who wanted us to overthrow the Iraq government and install ourselves in Baghdad. They got their way under a less-than-informed President, George W. Bush. Now we discover that a pair of them, the Kagans, have been right there in the room with the head of the Afghan mission, advising him every step of the way.

Why? Why did General Petraeus assume the right to allow people who represent the very opposite of President Obama’s philosophy to advise him? What agenda was his seeking here? What was he buying into? Was he buying into the hawkish agenda of those who advocated war on Iraq in the first place? If so, why was he working for President Obama who stood out there against that war?

I have to think that Petraeus either doesn’t understand politics and ideology or he shapes his ideology, or accepts the ideology of those who have stood against Obama from the beginning. This is really strange, really strange and someone in the administration better start paying attention to who is getting into the tent and who they are indeed working for.
Kimberly and Frederick Kagan are very interesting people indeed, close to the American Enterprise Institute and similar neo-con hit-squads. As Matthews asks, why were they "advising" Petraeus?

The Washington Post has the whole timeline of neo-con infiltration of the Obama administration:
Frederick and Kimberly Kagan, a husband-and-wife team of hawkish military analysts, put their jobs at influential Washington think tanks on hold for almost a year to work for Gen. David H. Petraeus when he was the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan. Provided desks, e-mail accounts and top-level security clearances in Kabul, they pored through classified intelligence reports, participated in senior-level strategy sessions and probed the assessments of field officers in order to advise Petraeus about how to fight the war differently.

Their compensation from the U.S. government for their efforts, which often involved 18-hour workdays, seven days a week and dangerous battlefield visits?

Zero dollars.

Although Fred Kagan said he and his wife wanted no pay in part to remain “completely independent,” the extraordinary arrangement raises new questions about the access and influence Petraeus accorded to civilian friends while he was running the Afghan war.

Petraeus allowed his biographer-turned-paramour, Paula Broadwell, to read sensitive documents and accompany him on trips. But the entree granted the Kagans, whose think-tank work has been embraced by Republican politicians, went even further. The four-star general made the Kagans de facto senior advisers, a status that afforded them numerous private meetings in his office, priority travel across the war zone and the ability to read highly secretive transcripts of intercepted Taliban communications, according to current and former senior U.S. military and civilian officials who served in the headquarters at the time.

The Kagans used those privileges to advocate substantive changes in the U.S. war plan, including a harder-edged approach than some U.S. officers advocated in combating the Haqqani network, a Taliban faction in eastern Afghanistan, the officials said.

The pro-bono relationship, which is now being scrutinized by military lawyers, yielded valuable benefits for the general and the couple. The Kagans’ proximity to Petraeus, the country’s most-famous living general, provided an incentive for defense contractors to contribute to Kim Kagan’s think tank. For Petraeus, embracing two respected national security analysts in GOP circles helped to shore up support for the war among Republican leaders on Capitol Hill.

Fred Kagan, speaking in an interview with his wife, acknowledged the arrangement was “strange and uncomfortable” at times. “We were going around speaking our minds, trying to force people to think about things in different ways and not being accountable to the heads” of various departments in the headquarters, he said.

The extent of the couple’s involvement in Petraeus’s headquarters was not known to senior White House and Pentagon officials involved in war policy, two of those officials said. More than a dozen senior military officers and civilian officials were interviewed for this article; most spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters.

Petraeus, through a former aide, declined to comment for this article.

As war-zone volunteers, the Kagans were not bound by stringent rules that apply to military personnel and private contractors. They could raise concerns directly with Petraeus, instead of going through subordinate officers, and were free to speak their minds without repercussion.

Some military officers and civilian U.S. government employees in Kabul praised the couple’s contributions — one general noted that “they did the work of 20 intelligence analysts.” Others expressed deep unease about their activities in the headquarters, particularly because of their affiliations and advocacy in Washington.

Fred Kagan, who works at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, was one of the intellectual architects of President George W. Bush’s troop surge in Iraq and has sided with the Republican Party on many national security issues. Kim Kagan runs the Institute for the Study of War, which favors an aggressive U.S. foreign policy. The Kagans supported President Obama’s decision to order a surge in Afghanistan, but they later broke with the White House on the subject of troop reductions. Both argue against any significant drawdown in forces there next year.

Petraeus’s successor, Gen. John R. Allen, allowed the Kagans to stay at the headquarters for his first few months on the job last year and permitted them to return for two additional short visits. After the couple’s most recent trip in September, they provided a briefing on the war and other foreign policy matters to the Republican vice-presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

The Kagans said they continued to receive salaries from their think tanks while in Afghanistan. Kim Kagan’s institute is funded in part by large defense contractors. During Petraeus’s tenure in Kabul, she sent out a letter soliciting contributions so the organization could continue its military work, according to two people who saw the letter.

On Aug. 8, 2011, a month after he relinquished command in Afghanistan to take over at the CIA, Petraeus spoke at the institute’s first “President’s Circle” dinner, where he accepted an award from Kim Kagan. To join the President’s Circle, individuals must contribute at least $10,000 a year. The private event, held at the Newseum in Washington, also drew executives from defense contractors who fund the institute.

“What the Kagans do is they grade my work on a daily basis,” Petraeus said, prompting chortles from the audience. “There’s some suspicion that there’s a hand up my back, and it makes my lips talk, and it’s operated by one of the Doctors Kagan.”
Now, why would we think that?

What an interesting turn of phrase.

Hopefully, we will be getting more on this... in the meantime, read the entire investigative piece by the Washington Post, which is stellar.


Tit for Tat said...


You might like this. :)

DaisyDeadhead said...

Thanks for the link!

Ann O'Dyne said...

Hi from Australia DD, the 52nd state.
that is shocking stuff and you are brave or silly. you'll be next to Sergeant Manning if you're not careful. X X