As gen­eral, Pe­traeus faulted work of CIA he now heads

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics - BY SHAUN WATER­MAN

Former Iraq mil­i­tar y com­man­der Gen. David H. Pe­traeus, who took over as CIA di­rec­tor on Sept. 6, in the past butted heads in Bagh­dad and Kabul with of­fi­cials from the agency he is now lead­ing over the qual­ity of their reporting, ac­cord­ing to former in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials.

Coun­terin­sur­gency an­a­lyst Bill Rog­gio, who writes at the online Long War Jour­nal, said the re­cently re­tired gen­eral was frus­trated with work of the CIA and the De­fense In­tel­li­gence Agency (DIA) be­fore he took over as U.S. com­man­der in Iraq.

“There were real ten­sions even when he was in Mo­sul,” said Mr. Rog­gio, re­fer­ring to Mr. Pe­traeus’ stint as com­man­der of the 101st Air­borne Divi­sion there dur­ing the first few years of the Iraq War.

Af­ter be­ing con­firmed as com­man­der of all troops in Iraq in Fe­bru­ary 2007, the gen­eral “went on an end r un around the CIA,” Mr. Rog­gio added, in an ac­count whose broad out­lines were pri­vately con­firmed by two former in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing one who was work­ing in Iraq at the time when Mr. Pe­traeus took com­mand.

“He cre­ated his own in­telli- gence shop. [. . . ] My un­der­stand­ing is it was to get things done that CIA and DIA weren’t do­ing, not just anal­y­sis but to drive op­er­a­tions,” Mr. Rog­gio said.

“What he was do­ing in Iraq,” he added, re­fer­ring to the surge of U.S. forces Mr. Pe­traeus led and the re­la­tion­ship he built with the Sunni tribal mili­tias known as the An­bar awak­en­ing “ran counter to the anal­y­sis from both the CIA and the DIA” about the re­la­tion­ships within the in­sur­gency and the role of al Qaeda in Iraq.

Cur­rent of­fi­cials dis­puted that pic­ture and played down any ten­sions in Bagh­dad, say­ing they were no more than worka­day bu­reau­cratic fric­tions.

“An­a­lyt­i­cal dif­fer­ences over com­plex is­sues and trends are part of ev­ery­day life in the in­tel­li­gence busi­ness. Un­for­tu­nately, some peo­ple blow these nat­u­ral and healthy dif­fer­ences into bu­reau­cratic clashes that sim­ply don’t ex­ist,” said one of­fi­cial, adding that the idea that Mr. Pe­traeus cre­ated a mil­i­tary unit to end-run in­tel­li­gence agen­cies is “ridicu­lous.”

In­deed, in re­cent pub­lic state­ments, Mr. Pe­traeus, while not­ing some dis­agree­ments with CIA as­sess­ments, praised the agency and its staff.

“I have the ab­so­lute high­est re­gard for you and for this agency,” Mr. Pe­traeus told CIA em­ploy­ees all over the world by video­con­fer­ence. “I be­lieve it’s one of the great­est con­cen­tra­tions of tal­ent and ca­pa­bil­ity that our coun­try has,” he con­cluded.

At his June con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing to be CIA di­rec­tor, how­ever, Mr. Pe­traeus noted sev­eral oc­ca­sions when he dif­fered with sig­nif­i­cant CIA as­sess­ments of the sit­u­a­tion on the ground where he was com­man­der. For in­stance, he said, some es­ti­mates were out­dated in Septem­ber 2007 on Iraq and in De­cem­ber 2010 on Afghanistan.

“In each case, my team and I felt that the sit­u­a­tion had changed sig­nif­i­cantly fol­low­ing the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity as­sess­ment cut­off date, typ­i­cally some six to eight weeks prior to the date of the as­sess­ment be­ing re­viewed by the pres­i­dent,” he told the Se­nate Se­lect In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee. “In view of that, we sought to pro­vide our as­sess­ment and more up-to-date anal­y­sis,” to pol­i­cy­mak­ers, he said.

“How­ever,” he stated, “if con­firmed, when I am in the Sit­u­a­tion Room with the pres­i­dent, I will strive to rep­re­sent the agency po­si­tion.”

“My goal has al­ways been to speak truth to power,” he said, “and I will strive to do that as di­rec­tor of the CIA, if con­firmed.”

Mr. Pe­traeus also sought to as­suage con­cerns that he would bring his own “mil­i­tary brain trust,” or close ad­vis­ers, with him to CIA.

“There is no short­age of im­pres­sive in­di­vid­u­als at the agency, and I look for­ward to in­ter­act­ing with them and pop­u­lat­ing my of­fice with them. If con­firmed, I will, in short, get out of my ve­hi­cle alone on the day that I re­port to Lan­g­ley,” he said.

As the tempo of the agency’s lethal op­er­a­tions against al Qaeda in Afghanistan, Pak­istan and else­where con­tinue at a high rate, Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials are keen to see a smooth tran­si­tion.

“We’re do­ing this to­day in the Roo­sevelt Room be­cause there’s lit­er­ally no time to waste,” said Vice Pres­i­dent Joseph R. Bi­den. “The pres­i­dent wants him on the job, and I think we’re go­ing to be go­ing from here to right down stairs” to brief the pres­i­dent right away, Mr. Bi­den added.

One of­fi­cial told The Times that CIA Deputy Di­rec­tor Michael J. Mor­rell was likely to stay on and take on much of the day-to-day man­age­ment of the agency.

None­the­less, Mr. Rog­gio said, the his­tory of con­flict with some agency of­fi­cials raised a ques­tion: “What hap­pens, his­tor­i­cally to di­rec­tors who mix it up with the agency es­tab­lish­ment?”

CIA Di­rec­tor Porter J. Goss, dur­ing the Ge­orge W. Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion, for ex­am­ple, was un­der­mined by agency of­fi­cials who dis­agreed with his man­age­ment style and dis­liked his close ad­vis­ers who were crit­i­cal of many ca­reer agency of­fi­cials.

Eli Lake and Bill Gertz con­trib­uted to this re­port.


The new di­rec­tor of the CIA, David Pe­traeus (right), talks with Vice Pres­i­dent Joseph R. Bi­den (back to cam­era) af­ter Mr. Pe­traeus was sworn in at the White House on Sept. 6.

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