I would imagine that Piers Morgan and the producers at CNN were expecting BuzzFeed's Michael Hastings to be pretty harsh on the now scandal ridden Gen. David Petraeus, because I find it hard to believe they would have invited him on the air without reading his recent article here -- The Sins Of General David Petraeus.
What they probably didn't expect was for him to go after the other guest, their own Barbara Starr for taking dictation from the Pentagon and the media in general for their worship of Petraeus. Whatever the case, it was well worth the time watching the segment just to see Piers Morgan squirm in discomfort with his response to Hastings.
MORGAN: Paula Broadwell calling David Petraeus a role model. How things have changed. Joining me now is General Mark Kimmitt who has known General Petraeus for 25 years, also Michael Hastings, Buzzfeed reporter and writing for "Rolling Stone." He says America should have never trusted Petraeus in the first place. And Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona, a former Defense Intelligence officer who also served with the CIA. Welcome to you all.
General Kimmitt, let me start with you. You've known General Petraeus for 25 years. Do you recognize the man that you've been reading about for the last 24 hours?
GEN. GEORGE KIMMITT, FMR. DIRECTOR, PLANS & STRATEGIES, CENTRAL COMMAND: Well, in many ways, I do, because with this one exception of this incident that he had with Paula Broadwell, I think the fact that this was a guy that stood up when the facts became known, did the honorable thing and resigned. That's the David Petraeus that I know.
MORGAN: Should a general in his position, who has moved on to run the CIA, have to resign his post over an affair, which is really what this seems to have been about?
KIMMITT: My opinion, yes. Any commander of an organization who is caught in that kind of compromising behavior, someone who is supposed to set the standards and enforce the standards for that organization, when he is caught in a compromising position, he's got to do the honorable thing and step down. I think Attorney General Mukasey mentioned that as well. And I stand behind those comments as well.
Any commander that has lost the trust and confidence of his unit has to stand down. MORGAN: Michael Hastings, in your Buzzfeed article, "The Sins of General David Petraeus," you argue that Petraeus was a master of deception. Do you think he should have resigned?
MICHAEL HASTINGS, "ROLLING STONE": I think there's many other reasons Petraeus should have resigned besides who he's sleeping with that's not his wife. But I just want to make a point here. The larger point that I've been making is that essentially the media has played a role in protecting David Petraeus and promoting David Petraeus and mythologizing David Petraeus.
We saw it here tonight. General Kimmitt, who was a spokesperson in Baghdad, who was a roommate of Petraeus, who was involved in one of the biggest debacles in recent foreign policy history, is on TV defending David Petraeus without actually addressing the real problems with David Petraeus' record.
Those are the fact that he manipulated the White House into escalating Afghanistan. He ran a campaign in Iraq that was brutally savage, included arming the worst of the worst, Shiite death squads, Sunni militiamen. And then you go back to the training of the Iraqi army program that also had similar problems.
So for me, all the while, he's going around the country talking about honor and integrity. So for me the questions of honor and integrity -- I was raising those earlier. A number of other journalists who were actually covering David Petraeus were raising those concerns. You might not get that from someone like Barbara Starr at CNN, who essentially is a spokesperson for the Pentagon in many ways.
So I think I just want to step back and have my piece, because this -- even the way the scandal is being covered is so different than how usual sex scandals are being covered, where they hammer the guy mercilessly. Now everyone is saying oh, my God, he just went to the CIA; how could he be -- you know, he was susceptible to being seduced by this woman.
Give me a break. Petraeus now has all his allies coming out to defend him, where Paula Broadwell is there yet again -- where are her protectors?
MORGAN: Barbara is not a spokesperson for him, obviously. Let's move to --
HASTINGS: Not too obviously. I have followed her coverage pretty closely as she has covered my work before, too.
MORGAN: Just because she's written naughty things about you doesn't make her a spokesperson.
HASTINGS: No. What makes her a spokesperson is repeating without question a lot of Pentagon claims.
MORGAN: Well, you've made a lot of claims which are equally contentious tonight. So you're getting a platform to have your claims.
HASTINGS: You asked me to be here. You asked me to be here to make these claims.
MORGAN: But for you to dispute everybody else's claims as being nonsense and only yours to be the correct ones, if I may say so, is cheeky.
HASTINGS: -- claims they have made over the years about General Petraeus have been a lot of nonsense, Piers. And that's fact. Read Bob Woodward's book.
MORGAN: It's not a fact that everybody agrees with you about it. That's my point. These are contentious analysis of a controversial, quite polarizing figure, but who, to many people, remains a hero.
Let me go to Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona. You have heard both sides of the Petraeus coin. What did you see here?
LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA, U.S. AIR FORCE (RET): Do I get to arbitrate that?
MORGAN: Yes, why not?
FRANCONA: I think there are good points on both sides. The general is absolutely right. I think General Petraeus did a great job in the field, contrary to what Michael has said. I think he did a good job in Iraq, a good job in Afghanistan.
But I'm not sure he was the right person to head up the Central Intelligence Agency. He doesn't have the right kind of background for that. Sure, he brings the -- what we thought was going to be this trust and integrity and leadership to the position. And that's gone away very quickly.
But I think -- I don't think he was the right man for the job. It might not have been the right fit.
That said, this resignation may give us an opportunity to find out what really happened in Benghazi. And I think that's what lies -- underlies all of this. I think the timing is a little bit suspicious, but I'm willing to forego that if what all these FBI people are saying, that there's no criminal activity -- he didn't need to resign. He chose to do the right thing.
But he's the go-to guy on what happened in Benghazi. I hope that at some point, we get beyond all this sex and we get into what happened out there.
MORGAN: OK. General Kimmitt, I must give you the last word because you started in such a civilized manner and then basically everything you said got trashed. So respond to what Mr. Hastings was saying.
KIMMITT: It's simple. To suggest that he was not successful in Iraq belies the facts. I was there three days ago. I've been in Baghdad for the last two weeks. It is a much different place than it was when David Petraeus took over there. There is calm. There is --
HASTINGS: -- Lying to the American people every day. In 2006, he said there was progress in Iraq. I was in Iraq there, man. Don't try to spin. You guys are letting him spin.
MORGAN: Let him have his say, please.
KIMMITT: Listen, I was over there as a private businessman. I have been going in there for the last nine years, both in uniform and as a State Department official, now as a private individual. And to suggest that Iraq today is the same Iraq that David Petraeus saw when he walked in the door just demonstrates that Michael hasn't been there. And unfortunately it doesn't make the story for him so I can't help him.
HASTINGS: I spent more time in Iraq than you have, man. Come on. Let's be honest, David Petraeus fueled an Iraqi civil war that the Shiites won. We installed a radical Islamist government in Iraq.
I'm glad the general was able to make money of his service now that he's out there, and he can go and get contracts and do business in Iraq. Great. I'm glad American capitalism can get something back from the trillions of dollars and thousands of lives.
MORGAN: OK. This has drifted into --
HASTINGS: As a final note, can I say it's Veterans Day. My younger brother served and I have a lot of great friends who are veterans who have always protected me and taken care of me in some pretty bad places. So my respect to them.
MORGAN: OK. My brothers served, too. I echo that final statement. Thank you both very much, General Kimmitt and Michael Hastings and Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona. This is clearly a contentious matter.