Gen. Petraeus joined FOX News and Martha MacCallum today and gave a blockbuster interview, but probably not the one Fox expected. Once again, he called for the responsible closure of the military prison at Guantanamo Bay. He also said that mistakes were made after 9/11 and that the Army Field Manual is all that we need to use to interrogate prisoners. In addition, he said that we have to have faith in our judicial system and we should try the Khalid Sheikh Muhammads in a court of law.
Martha tried to give him the ticking time bomb scenario to justify torture and he really didn't bite. He did say maybe an Executive Order could be appropriate, but that it really wasn't necessary. Petraeus repudiated pretty much most of what Limbaugh Republicans and the Rove/Newt/Cheney Party have been saying.
MacCallum: Where do you think those people should go?
Gen. Petraeus: Well, it's not for a soldier to say. What I do support is what has been termed the responsible closure of Gitmo. Gitmo has caused us problems, there's no question about it. I oversee a region in which the existence of Gitmo has been used by the enemy against us. We have not been without missteps or mistakes in our activity since 9/11 and again Gitmo is a lingering reminder for the use of some in that regard.
MacCallum: What about the concern that a Khalid Sheikh Muhammad or anybody of that ilk might be tried here in a US court and the possibility that some of the treatments that were used on them that they could go free.
Gen. Petraeus: Well, first of all, I don't think we should be afraid of our values we're fighting for, what we stand for. And so indeed we need to embrace them and we need to operationalize them in how we carry out what it is we're doing on the battlefield and everywhere else. So one has to have some faith, I think, in the legal system. One has to have a degree of confidence that individuals that have conducted such extremist activity would indeed be found guilty in our courts of law.
MacCallum: So you're confident that they will never go free.
Gen. Petraeus: I hope that's the case.
MacCallum: (Ticking time bomb scenario)
Gen. Petraeus: ....T here might be an exception and that would require extraordinary but very rapid approval to deal with, but for the vast majority of the cases, our experience downrange if you will, is that the techniques that are in the Army Field Manual that lays out how we treat detainees, how we interrogate them -- those techniques work, that's our experience in this business.
MacCallum: So is sending this signal that we're not going to use these kind of techniques anymore, what kind of impact does this have on people who do us harm in the field that you operate in?
Gen. Petraeus: Well, actually what I would ask is, does that not take away from our enemies a tool which again have beaten us around the head and shoulders in the court of public opinion? When we have taken steps that have violated the Geneva Conventions, we rightly have been criticized, so as we move forward I think it's important to again live our values, to live the agreements that we have made in the international justice arena and to practice those.
Wow, there was a lot in that interview. I couldn't transcribe it all. He admits that we violated the Geneva Convention. Is he saying that the Bush/Cheney administration failed our "value system" in their leadership in the two wars and how America responded to the 9/11 attacks?
He obviously is against torture. He is also saying to let the chips fall where they may in prosecuting these detainees and use our legal system to try terror suspects. Martha didn't go into the military commissions, but if they come here, just let them stand trial. All the conservatives and Republicans anointed Gen. Petraeus as the true leader of the wars when George Bush decided he didn't want to take the heat on the war any longer.
Remember when to question him was sacrilegious? Will they now disavow what he is telling them today?
After the interview, the other Fox host predictably tried to intimate that Petraeus was working for Obama now so, ya know, he's in the tank for him. Whatever happened to listening to the generals on the ground being critical to our "victory" in Iraq? He said that our values as a country do change in a time of war -- a scary notion -- so Bush is just all right. Don't they ever give up with their Bush-hero worshiping?
How long will it take Rush Limbaugh to lash out at the General? What about Newt and Rove?