Gen. Petraeus spoke to the Associated Press' annual meeting by live link today to express his misgivings about a newly released ethics report. But the report was finished way before the surge began, so was Petreaus kept in the dark or has he waited until there was a public outcry after its release to take any action at all? It would appear that the latter is the case.
ABC News reports on his livelink with the AP annual meeting:
The top U.S. commander in Iraq said Monday he was "greatly concerned" by a recent survey that concluded many combat troops in Iraq would not report a member of their unit for killing or wounding an innocent civilian.Yet as observant commentators noted, the report was actually finished back in November and Friday's release was only the public release. The NY Times explained:
Speaking to the annual meeting of The Associated Press, Gen. David Petraeus called for a "redoubling of our education efforts" to identify potential abuses among soldiers and anticipate problems related to combat stress.
"We can never sink to the level of the enemy," Petraeus said by video link from Baghdad. "We have done that at times in theater and it has cost us enormously" referring specifically to the torture and humiliation of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib facility west of Baghdad.
Petraeus said he was drafting a memo that would closer examine issues of battlefield ethics and ways pre-empt possible problems, adding that he was "greatly concerned by the results" of a Pentagon report last week by a special mental health advisory team assessing forces serving in Iraq.
"So the first step is that we've got ... make sure that folks remember that that's a foundation for our moral compass ... anything we do that violates that is done at considerable peril," he said.
The Pentagon report included a range of findings that pointed to potential violations of military codes and standards, including only 40 percent of Marines and 55 percent of Army soldiers interviewed saying they would report a member of their unit for killing or wounding an innocent civilian.
The survey also found that 47 percent of U.S. soldiers and 38 percent of Marines interviewed saying noncombatants should be treated with dignity and respect; and 44 percent of Marines and 41 percent of soldiers said torture should be allowed to save the life of a soldier or Marine.
The report was provided in November to Gen. George W. Casey Jr., then the senior American commander in Iraq.If Casey had the report, it's a pretty safe assumption that his replacement also had it. Yet Petreaus has waited until now to decide to draft a memo to his command about ethical lapses! That's how "greatly concerned" he is.
Pentagon officials have not explained why the public release of the report was delayed, a move that kept the data out of the public debate as the Bush administration developed its plan to build up troops in Iraq and extend combat tours. Rear Adm. Richard R. Jeffries, a medical officer, told reporters on Friday that the timing was decided by civilian Pentagon officials.
And the entire AP annual meeting seems to have missed the obvious.