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Why Trump Passed on David Petraeus as Secretary of Defense

Why Trump Passed on David Petraeus as Secretary of Defense

We find out.

Former Army Gen. David Petraeus, the former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan who resigned in disgrace as CIA director amid revelations of an extramarital affair, was passed over by then-president-elect Donald Trump's transition team because of his criticism of torture, according to leaked vetting documents.

The vetting documents, published by Axios on Sunday, consist of the Trump transition team's research into dozens of candidates for cabinet and senior administration officials

Those documents include vetting profiles on Petraeus, who was for a time under consideration for Secretary of State and National Security Adviser; James Mattis, who Trump nominated to serve as Secretary of Defense; and John Kelly, who served as Secretary of Homeland Security before transitioning to the West Wing as Trump's Chief of Staff.

According to Axios, Trump "reviewed many of these documents at Trump Tower and Bedminster before his interviews, according to a source who saw him eyeball them," with giant red subheadings covering topics like:

  • Benghazi ("House Republicans Claimed That Petraeus Misled Them In His September 2012 Testimony On Benghazi")

  • The Iran nuclear deal ("Petraeus Endorsed The Iran Nuclear Deal, And Suggested That Strong Deterrence Was Needed To Ensure Enforcement And Continued Stability After The Deal Expires")

  • Gun control ("Petraeus Supports Increased Gun Control")

  • Energy ("Petraeus Supports Expanding Energy Resources And New Types Of Energy Production")

  • ISIS and U.S. involvement in Syria ("Petraeus Has Implied That The U.S. Will Continue To Have A Role That Will Require Continued Presence In The Middle East Post-ISIS")

     

And then there's the whole torture section, which is worth highlighting on its own:

 

This is, of course, unsurprising. Let's recall then-candidate Trump's promise from a February 2017 Republican primary debate: "I would bring back waterboarding, and I'd bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding."

Former Marine Commandant Gen. Charles Krulak put it best: "Disregard for the law undermines our national security by reducing combat effectiveness, increasing the risks to our troops, hindering cooperation with allies, alienating populations whose support the United States needs in the struggle against terrorism, and providing a propaganda tool for extremists who wish to do us harm."

This is fine. Everything is fine.

This article by Jared Keller originally appeared at Task & Purpose. Follow Task & Purpose on Twitter. This article first appeared in 2019.

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Image: Reuters