Thursday, October 09, 2014

‘Panetta Is Trying to Rewrite History’

Obama administration officials quietly slam the former SecDef’s seeming inconsistencies on Iraq, Syria—but only in private.

By MICHAEL HIRSH
October 08, 2014

Just as they did with Robert Gates, White House officials are trying to avoid too much of a public spat with Leon Panetta, the latest former high-level administration insider to criticize the president, in the not unreasonable hope that the less they say, the quicker the story will go away.

But as they seethe quietly over what they consider the Pentagon chief’s disloyalty, administration officials are also bashing him in private, distributing a long raft of statements that he made as Obama’s CIA director and later as defense secretary that sometimes appear to contradict or undermine Panetta’s claims that he argued strenuously to keep U.S. troops in Iraq after 2011 and urged a military intervention in Syria.

As a current senior administration official put it to Politico Magazine: “There’s concern within the administration that Panetta is trying to rewrite history.”

Tommy Vietor, the former spokesman for Obama’s National Security Council, says that based on “talking to my friends back at the White House … they are going out of their way to avoid a messy public fight.” But Vietor adds: “Secretary Panetta was very clear back in 2011 that he wouldn’t allow troops to remain in Iraq without the necessary protections from the Iraqi government, and I think it’s reasonable for the White House to remind people of those statements.”

(More here.)

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