Is General Petraeus a liar? That was the message I got during an interview with Senate Intelligence Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) early this afternoon. In the midst of discussing Senator Jim Webb (D-WV) and Senator Claire McCaskill’s (D-MO) legislation establishing an independent commission to examine wartime contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan, Senator Rockefeller took the opportunity to combat the notion that all military generals are immune to politicization and are to be universally deified as Right and Honest men. Rockefeller:
The thing that is really important, the point I really want to make, is that when you hear a general speaking in front of an Armed Services committee or an Intelligence committee or something of that sort, he or she is not speaking his or her mind. Every word that they say has been vetted, has been gone over, has had to pass approval of the administration. And this is something the American people don’t know.
Last week Rockefeller was one of just 25 senators to vote against a resolution condemning the liberal antiwar group MoveOn.org for its ad criticizing General Petraeus. Hearing Rockefeller speak, it’s clear why he voted the way he did.
Rockefeller: I’m chairman of a committee. I start out every single one, I say, ‘did you write this last night? Did you stay up until three o’ clock sweating bullets figuring if could you get it done in time? Did you write it a week ago so you could put it away and then come back and look at it? Or did you give it to the Office of Management and Budget?’ And the answer is always the latter. And they’re angry at me for asking the question, but it’s important for the American people to understand that’s the way it works. And it’s not just a Republican phenomena, it’s also a Democratic phenomena.
Davis: Do you think that was the case with General Petraeus’ testimony? That it was kind of meant to provide political cover for the White House?
Rockefeller: I think that when he said that he had written it all himself, he was really saying, ‘I didn’t write it all myself.’
In other words, when General Petraeus testified before Congress and said this:
At the outset I would like to note that this is my testimony. Although I have briefed my assessment and recommendations to my chain of command, I wrote this testimony myself. It has not been cleared by nor shared with anyone in the Pentagon, the White House or the Congress until it was just handed out.
He was lying. Or at least that’s what the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee believes.