CNN panel discusses impact of Petraeus scandal, fiscal cliff negotiations
November 18th, 2012
02:15 PM ET
10 years ago

CNN panel discusses impact of Petraeus scandal, fiscal cliff negotiations

(CNN) - The resignation of David Petraeus as CIA director over an extramarital affair continues to reverberate around Washington, and a panel on CNN's "State of the Union" said Petraeus' legacy would be a lasting influence on American foreign policy. The panel also discussed the investigation into the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, with CNN's chief political correspondent, Candy Crowley, and looked at what is likely to happen regarding the upcoming fiscal cliff.

Gerald Seib , Washington bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal, said that Petraeus had been a role model for junior military officers and created the modern counterinsurgency theory that the military considers "gospel." Seib added that the blow to the Pentagon would be "considerable."

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr said Petraeus had far-reaching personal influence and possessed a large amount of knowledge on defense issues like Afghanistan and al Qaeda. Starr added that it was "extremely odd" that "one government official … is so powerful as to be such an intelligence loss."

Starr said that older military officials had often considered Petraeus to be "arrogant" and slightly self-centered.

Seib said questions will continue about whether the Petraeus resignation was connected to the continuing investigation into the September Benghazi consulate attack. Petraeus testified before Congress on Friday about the attack.

Joining Seib and Starr on the panel was New York Times White House correspondent Jackie Calmes.

Calmes said that the resignation had in part brought the Benghazi attack back into the national spotlight, which she said had died down right after the presidential election.

Regarding the fiscal cliff, Seib said that, while congressional leaders have said they would find a solution before the cliff occurs, the "elephant in the room" was House Republicans' opposition to President Barack Obama's insistence on ending the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy. Seib said there was more consensus on spending cuts than on taxes.

Calmes said there was cause for optimism for a deal because both Republicans and Democrats saw a mutual interest in making a deal. Calmes pointed out that Republicans in particular do not have as much leverage as before, due to their Election Day losses.

Seib thought that the likely solution was a two-step solution, with both sides making a short-term deal that resolves the fiscal cliff and, in 2013, a longer-term deal which includes major issues like tax reform. But, added Seib, Obama's idea of a short-term deal would include an expiration of the tax cuts for the top 2% of earners.

Calmes said that a long-term deal could allow Congress to send a signal to the financial markets about its seriousness to solve the nation's fiscal problems.

Starr said that Department of Defense in particular is very concerned about the $500 billion in defense cuts that would result from the sequestration part of the fiscal cliff. Starr said that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who has been outspoken against the cuts, was probably hoping that members of Congress would stop the cuts based on the potential job losses from defense-related industries in their districts.

Seib and Calmes both predicted that a deal would be reached before the end of the year, but Seib joked to Crowley that it might "still ruin your Christmas."

Filed under: David Petraeus
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. plain&simple

    Let's all hope this congress has learned from the election. One would have to be pretty thick headed not to have figured out what the nation expects. That's what national elections do!!!

    November 18, 2012 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  2. jpmichigan

    Peterasus should be proud of his military career, what mistakes made in his private life is between him and his wife. He did the honorable thing to have resigned from the CIA, He forgot that big brother is always watching. He reported the action on 4 Americans as it was, an terrorist attack, the one wo decided to remove that fact from CIA conclussion is ethically and morally discussng, and should be forced to resign for betraying the American peoples trust.

    November 18, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  3. CBP

    If, in fact Gen. Petraeus stated that the Libyan attack was a terrorist action then he was duty-bound to make sure that the statements were corrected. The intelligence community is now saying that they stated it was a terrorist attack all along but somebody put out a different statement.

    The Senators would do well to remember that they and the House members cut the funding for security for embassies and consuls. It is a little late to put blame on anyone else. They need to take responsibility for what they did. I highly doubt that the Republicans like Lindsay Graham and John McCain will do so. They will conveniently forget that the vote ever happened.

    Too often, we push our leaders to tell us everything and to be very open about everything we do. In this case those in power needed to make sure that any plans to find those in charge required some pretty fancy footwork. Once that film became a rallying cry those who wished to attack the embassy had the perfect opportunity to do so because so many Libyans would be in the streets around the embassy and consul offices. They knew that Ambassador Stevens could be seen out and about with a very small detail of security people. He would be an easy target or so they thought.

    The film made in this country was outrageous and would never have been seen in some other countries. It fired up the Libyan people even though they have a favorable opinion about the USA. They were very, very sorry about the ned result of the riots They know they will never have another have another Ambassador who cared about them like Ambassador Stevens.

    We would do well to remember that piece of information. We do not need to hash things over again. We need to make sure all of our diplomats and embassy workers are safe. Congress will have to appropriate the 18 million of so to pay for the details to provide security.

    November 18, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |

    The timing of Patraeus' resignation (right after the election) and his false testimony (right after the tragedy) are the most troublesome. They raise HUGE red flags. And this is not just a Republican outcry. The men who were killed were Americans – it doesn't matter what party anyone is in. The outcry should be coming from ALL Americans and ALL the media. No one is above the law – not the CIA, not the FBI, not the Secretary of State, and not the President.

    November 18, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  5. bcrunner

    Everyone thinks Petraeus was such a genius!! I don't doubt that he was a pretty good general... but people gave him way too much credit for the success in Iraq. I am saying this not to discredit him.. but the factions in Iraq at that time decided to cut ties is Al Qaeda because they were killing their own people. The same surge did not work in Afganistan and it has been a complete failure. And, we are spending trillions of dollars to support this effort.. I am sorry for his family.. not for him... and, although I do not think it was absolutely necessary that he resigned, these days it's hard to hold on to that kind of position under the scrutiny of the media....

    November 18, 2012 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  6. Let's Move Forward

    We appreciate General Peterasus's service to our country. General Peterasus was handled with kid gloves last week when he testified. We need to know did his affair cause him to neglect his job and put Americans in danger. Let's face it no one walks on water not even General Peterasus. McCain, Graham and the others want to blame President Obama. The real blame is the CIA head which was General Peterasus.

    November 18, 2012 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  7. RobK

    Richard Nixon was impeached for a far less consequential matter than covering up the reasons for the death of a US ambassador. Remember that Watergate was the name of the hotel that Republican operatives broke into to steal Democrat campaign plans. Trivial compared to the Benghazi cover-up.

    November 18, 2012 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  8. Ancient Texan

    If the President has won a "mandate", then the members of the House also won a mandate by being elected or reelected by the voters in their district to carry out the will of the voters that sent them there. If their district doesn't approve of the way they conduct business, they will voted out in the next election.

    November 18, 2012 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  9. SillyWabbit

    General Petraeus should have learned a long, long time ago that a bar fly is a bar fly is a bar fly. He should be held to the exact same standard to which anyone of lesser rank would be held. A Sgt or young officer (or young person working at the Agency) would lose his clearance and be crucified. Great military service, general. Unbecoming personal behavior, however. I wonder....would you have resigned if the affair had not been discovered?? Of course not! You would have kept it going. So, all of this "forgiveness" you're getting is undeserved and misplaced trust. Tell people to stop saying it doesn't matter. Men of honor do not accept forgiveness when they know they were dead wrong....

    November 19, 2012 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  10. v_mag

    Ancient Texan said: "If their district doesn't approve of the way they conduct business, they will voted out in the next election."
    Well, you're right there. And the voters did get rid of a lot of Republican dead wood. Democrats picked up seats in both houses as well as winning a landslide in the presidential race. Looks like America is on the right track of cleaning out those nasty Republicans!

    November 19, 2012 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  11. v_mag

    RobK, if you think Watergate was trivial, you need a history lesson. I lived through that horror, and it was not trivial. Nixon hired people to burgle Democratic offices for the purpose of sabotaging the presidential election. He had 18 1/2 minutes of incriminating tape recordings erased. He had a special prosecutor fired to save his own hide. He had Democratic Headquarters illegally bugged. He, John Mitchell and others lied to Congress and the American people on TV. He maintained a secret slush fund to pay criminals. His administration was criminal and corrupt from top to bottom.

    Oh yeah. Watergate was a big deal, and infinitely beyond the Benghazi affair, which the right wing is trying to blow up into something substantial.

    November 19, 2012 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  12. v_mag

    RobK - And Nixon was not impeached. He resigned in disgrace just before being impeached.

    It is really laughable that you consider Watergate trivial. It was a watershed in American history. It demonstrated active criminal activity on the part of a sitting President, Attorney General, cabinet members and aids. The Benghazi incident in no way rises to the level of Watergate. The most that has been alleged against Obama is failure to label the attack as a terrorist attack. That is a matter of semantics, and in fact, the President did call it terrorism when he first formally addressed the subject.

    Nixon was a crook, pure and simple. He should have gone to jail for his crimes, along with many in his administration. The fact that he didn't surely gave permission to those who followed him, like Reagan and the Bushes, to break the law with no fear, as they did.

    November 19, 2012 10:07 am at 10:07 am |