Lying To Congress Is A Crime
David Petraeus said over and over and over during his two days of testimony that "we aren't arming the Sunnis." It was not a slip of the tongue, there was no equivocation in the statement. He said that "What we have done is applaud when they ask if they can point their guns at al-Qaeda."
Of course, we knew that this was just a distinction without a difference. Spencer Ackerman noted that the NYT reported that the military is paying local tribes $10 per person to maintain security in their areas, and funding those tribes isn't all that different from arming them. And then there's this, from a CNN appearance in June:
[Question] (on camera): Will the assistance or the coordination with these former insurgent groups extend to arming [them] or helping them out in logistics in any sense?
GEN. BENJAMIN MIXON, U.S. REGIONAL COMMANDER IN IRAQ: It certainly will. We have seen this in counterinsurgency operations before, using local nationals, if you will, arming them, forming them into scouts, if you will. And that's the primary role that we want to use them in. They know the territory, they know the enemy.
So somebody is not telling the truth here. Either we're arming security units made up of Sunni tribesman, or we're just applauding. Are we supposed to be so ignorant to believe that Sunni tribes respond to applause like a Pavlovian dog? They are being supported in their efforts. Gen. Mixon says it's with guns.
We all know the danger of arming both sides of a civil war. We are entrenching Sunni tribal leaders in their own region while presiding over the ethnic cleansing in mixed areas like Baghdad. Since practically everyone in Iraq doesn't want a partitioned system, and really are interested in a strong central government on their own terms, civil strife and a battle for power is inevitable, and arming virtually everybody in the region ensures that will be a deadly battle.
General Petraeus came out even at best from his testimony, if not worse. I agree with Kos that the initial reviews have ranged from "cool to hostile." Gen. Petraeus' demurral to answer whether or not the Iraq occupation is making America safer proved his irrelevance to the ultimate debate, unable to answer Cindy Sheehan's key question "for what noble cause," unable and unwilling to understand the larger geopolitical question of how to best secure the nation, and how a myopic focus on Iraq damages that. If he is also found to be lying about the extent to which we are arming former Sunni insurgents who not long ago were killing Americans, and may still be, his credibility will be completely eliminated.
It's also a crime; I believe they call it perjury. For an explanation, contact Gonzales, Alberto at the US Dept. of Justice (until Friday).