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Petraeus: Bush Administration Violated Geneva Conventions

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General David Petraeus gives a fascinating interview to Fox News. Martha MacCallum presents him with the predictable set of Fox-Cheney talking points, and he bats them down with ease one after the other. (Note the rather pained expressions on MacCallum’s face: “it’s not supposed to go this way,” she appears to signal.) Of particular note are his statements about the Geneva Convention. “When we have taken steps that have violated the Geneva Conventions,” he says, “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.” But it’s worth watching the entire interview footage below. In an update to my article on the torture pictures at The Daily Beast, I quote a senior Pentagon source describing the controversy about their release. Petraeus argued in favor of release, saying “Let’s lance this boil.” He feared that the damage from withholding the photos would be greater than that from releasing them, because it would fuel suspicions that the photos are worse than they are. General Ray Odierno took the opposing view, and Obama sided with Odierno, although my sources say this is strictly a timing decision, and that Obama fully intends ultimately to release the photos. Petraeus adopts an unusual stance for generals from the Bush era: he believes that the country and the military shouldn’t be worried about speaking the truth, even when it’s painful. This is going to discombobulate some on the right, but Petraeus has already emerged as the most prominent and most influential general of his generation. And he’s a man worthy of close attention, since the media slivers of Petraeus are often a weak substitute for the original thing.

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