Petraeus Hearing to Probe CIA Role

Go down

Petraeus Hearing to Probe CIA Role

Post by John Chisum on Thu Jun 23, 2011 12:26 am

[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]

* JUNE 23, 2011

Petraeus Hearing to Probe CIA Role


Senators plan to press Gen. David Petraeus, the best-known current military commander, on how he'd lead the Central Intelligence Agency through a period when its spies are taking on an ever-more-militarized role in the fight against Islamist militants.

[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Afghan commander Petraeus is expected to easily win confirmation.

Thursday's confirmation hearing for Gen. Petraeus to be the next director of the CIA will give lawmakers a platform to raise thorny questions about the agency's operations, such as the handling of captured al Qaeda militants and the future of drone attacks in Pakistan.

Gen. Petraeus, 58 years old, led the successful troop surge in Iraq and now commands allied forces in Afghanistan. He is expected to win easy confirmation from the Senate.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, said she plans to ask Gen. Petraeus to describe what changes he may want to make at the CIA. The California Democrat said that while she generally believes the CIA should be run by a civilian, Gen. Petraeus "is a very good choice" because "of the specific nature of the time we're in." The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the critical role CIA plays in them will benefit from having Gen. Petraeus at the helm of CIA, she said.

The CIA's broad portfolio is part of the job's appeal to the general, associates say. Many in the military had hoped that Gen. Petraeus would be offered the chairmanship of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, arguing that his roles in Iraq and Afghanistan qualified him for the top military job.

President Barack Obama picked Gen. Petraeus for the CIA post with the recommendation of Vice President Joseph Biden, one of the administration's strongest advocates of a counterterrorism campaign based on pinpoint attacks rather than sweeping military campaigns, an administration official said.

Officials close to Gen. Petraeus said he views the CIA job as a better fit, giving him the effective control of U.S. covert operations around the globea sort of commander of the shadow war. "As the chairman you are not in command of anything—at the CIA he will be in command," said a western official in Afghanistan who has worked with Gen. Petraeus. "He is energized about it. He understands what a critical role this plays."

The agency is riding high after its successful joint raid with Navy SEALs on Osama bin Laden's compound last month. Associates say the general is likely to embrace and expand such joint CIA-special operations assaults, which also have been conducted against al Qaeda-affiliated militants in Afghanistan.

Gen. Petraeus also has advocated working with tribe and clan leaders to further U.S. counterterrorism goals, a former military official said. He'll have an even greater opportunity to do so at the CIA, where he can run covert operations with locals.

Some aspects of the expanded CIA role are more controversial, however. Lawmakers are expected to ask Gen. Petraeus about past statements suggesting he believes the U.S. should capture al Qaeda militants when possible, rather than kill them, congressional officials said.

The lawmakers want to know where such detainees would be held since the CIA's network of secret prisons has been closed. Officials have said one option is to house detainees at U.S. military facilities.

Lawmakers are also likely to ask, probably in a classified session, whether Gen. Petraeus supports the current fast pace of drone strikes in Pakistan set by outgoing CIA Director Leon Panetta, or whether he sides with some State Department and military officials who would like to scale back the program in deference to Pakistani sensitivities.

Another likely topic is the prison at Guantanamo Bay, which the administration has been unable to close despite promising to do so. Gen. Petraeus has said he'd like to see the facility closed in a responsible way. Senators may also quiz the general about his views of Mr. Obama's plans to draw down American forces in Afghanistan.

Some CIA officers are apprehensive about a military man running the agency, though Gen. Michael V. Hayden is among its recent directors, current and former officials say. "The military has too great a role in the U.S. intelligence community," said Henry Crumpton, a former senior CIA counterterrorism officer who led the agency's 2001 operations in Afghanistan. But, Mr. Crumpton added, "if you had to pick a military guy, he is the best one."

Officials expect Gen. Petraeus to make changes at the agency, but "he will go in and listen and learn before he does anything," Mr. Crumpton said.

Gen. Petraeus has said he'll retire from the military when he heads to CIA. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a former agency director, recommended to Gen. Petraeus that he not bring any of his aides along with him to the CIA, and officials said the general planned to arrive alone. A number of advisors had followed Gen. Petraeus as he moved from Iraq to Central Command to Afghanistan. But the general believes he can build trust with CIA ranks if he keeps much of the current team, at least initially, officials said. Adm. Stansfield Turner brought a number of advisors with him when he became CIA director in 1977, installing them in critical jobs and alienating many insiders. Mr. Panetta brought just one aide, which won him loyalty in the agency.

Officials said Gen. Petraeus, who has a PhD in international relations, hopes to create additional educational opportunities for CIA operatives and analysts, allowing them to take a break from current assignments to participate in academic study. In the armed forces, officers regularly rotate out of command and staff jobs into academic stints.

Before the Sept. 11 attacks, Gen. Petraeus was primarily known for his role as an aide and advisor to top generals. His star began to rise in Iraq, where he commanded the 101st Airborne Division. He later oversaw development of the counter-insurgency field manual, putting into Army doctrine many of the lessons he had learned in Iraq.

When the Bush administration ordered a surge of 20,000 additional troops into Iraq, Gen. Petraeus was tapped to become the top commander. After that posting, he became head of U.S. Central Command, overseeing both the Iraq and Afghanistan war efforts. But when Gen. Stanley McChrystal was ousted in the wake of comments made by his staff in Rolling Stone, Mr. Obama tapped him to take command in Afghanistan.

A senior intelligence official noted Gen. Petraeus's interest in intellectual sparring will play well at CIA. "It's clear that Petraeus understands the need for—and enjoys—principled debate on national security matters, and he looks forward to doing so at the CIA," the official said.

Write to Siobhan Gorman at [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
John Chisum

Posts : 276
Join date : 2011-04-16

Back to top Go down

Back to top

Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum