Entries in David Petraeus (7)


David Petraeus Personally Investigated Benghazi Attack

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In late October, former CIA Director David Petraeus traveled to Libya to conduct his own review of the Benghazi attack that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

While in Tripoli, he personally questioned the CIA station chief and other CIA personnel who were in Benghazi on Sept. 11 when the attack occurred.

The Libya stop was part of a six nation trip to the region.  Petraeus intended the review as a way to prepare for his upcoming testimony before Congress on Benghazi.

"He was looking forward to testifying," a Petraeus friend told ABC News.  "He wanted to be fully prepared."

Petraeus' friend described his investigation as Petraeus' "personal review" of both the Sept. 11 attack and the events leading up to it.  

The trip was so recent that the CIA has told the Congressional Intelligence committees that the trip report has not yet been completed.

Petraeus' personal involvement in this investigation is one reason some in Congress are likely to insist he testify on Benghazi.  But now Petraeus is telling friends he does not think he should testify.

Petraeus has offered two reasons for wanting to avoid testifying: Acting CIA Director Morell is in possession of all the information Petraeus gathered in conducting his review and he has more current information gathered since Petraeus' departure; and it would be a media circus.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Osama Bin Laden Plotted to Kill President Obama, David Petraeus

AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- After the Washington Post’s David Ignatius wrote about papers found in the Osama bin Laden compound, now ABC News can confirm that bin Laden wrote to others in al Qaeda about a plot to kill President Obama and General David Petraeus, then the commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan.

Bin Laden wrote, “The reason for concentrating on them, is that Obama is the head of infidelity and killing him automatically will make Biden take over the presidency. … Biden is totally unprepared for that post, which will lead the U.S. into a crisis. As for Petraeus, he is the man of the hour … and killing him would alter the (Afghanistan) war’s path.”

A national security official downplayed the plot to ABC News, saying that bin Laden “clearly had bold ambitions to kill as many innocent people as possible. But al Qaeda’s capabilities did not match Bin Laden’s intent. Leading up to and since bin Laden’s death we know that al Qaeda’s capacity to pull off those types of complex attacks has been greatly diminished, and that bin Laden himself spent much of his time brooding and providing guidance that often fell on deaf ears.”

Sources also confirm to ABC News that the papers revealed that bin Laden had much concern about the damage done to al Qaeda’s image among Muslims because of “miscalculations” that resulted “spilling Muslim blood."

"Making these mistakes is a great issue,” bin Laden wrote, and has caused “the alienation of most of the nation from the Mujahidin.” OBL wanted local AQ affiliates to “apologize and be held responsible for what happened.” He brainstormed about new names for the group. Only using “al Qaeda” as opposed to the group’s full name Qaeda al-Jihad, which ”reduces the feeling of Muslims that we belong to them.”

A national security official tells ABC News that “part of the picture that emerges from these documents is a portrait of a weakened and beleaguered core al Qaeda -- an organization rife with internal disputes over its global strategy and operational priorities -- and whose now-deceased leader was obsessively focused on the group’s own image. These documents contain correspondence -- some undated -- between bin Laden and his key lieutenants.”

The official referred to the letter in which bin Laden proposed changing al Qaeda’s name “because of the group’s declining public image, presumably because of their indiscriminate slaughter of Muslims, and loss of control over its narrative. The letters show a brooding, frustrated and isolated bin Laden who because of the extreme tempo of international counterterrorism efforts is disconnected from other members of his organization and from the realities on the ground.”

Intelligence analysts “have spent countless hours reviewing documents, correspondence, video and other items taken from bin Laden’s compound. The United States is working to declassify and make public as much of that information as possible, however that won’t be completed for some months,” the official said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


CIA Director Petraeus Warns Al Qaeda's Down But Not Out

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Al Qaeda is a weaker terrorist organization than it was a decade ago but still remains a major threat to national security, according to new CIA Director David Petraeus.

The retired four star general and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Congressional lawmakers Tuesday that the U.S. has done much to cripple al Qaeda's ability to operate since the 9/11 attacks.

Petraeus, who just took the helm of the CIA last week, said the terrorist group, which has sustained the loss of leader Osama bin Laden and other top figures in just several months, faces a "window of vulnerability."

Yet, this is no time for complacency, Petraeus warned lawmakers, because despites its losses, al Qaeda and its network of affiliates and sympathizers pose a "very real threat."

Two of the most dangerous new affiliates are al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen and Al Shabaab in Somalia, both of which have spread terrorist acts beyond their own borders.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Osama Bin Laden Plotted to Kill Obama Aboard Air Force One

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Investigators poring over information found at Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan have uncovered new details regarding the al Qaeda leader's aspirations to attack the U.S. and kill President Obama, ABC News has learned.

Officials tell ABC News that bin Laden was trying to hatch a plan to kill Obama by shooting down Air Force One or his helicopter, Marine One, presumably while the president was traveling overseas.

Bin Laden also hoped to kill Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and the soon to be director of the CIA, in the same way -- either in a helicopter or fixed-wing airplane with a missile or rocket-propelled grenade.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Is US Winning in Afghanistan? Gates and Petraeus Won't Say

ABC News(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- America's two top military commanders declined Monday to state whether the U.S. is winning the war in Afghanistan.

"We're making progress," said Gen. David Petraeus said when asked by ABC World News anchor Diane Sawyer whether the U.S. was winning the now decade long war in Afghanistan. "We're really loathed to use this very loaded term of winning or losing."

Petreaus made his comments in an exclusive joint interview with Sawyer along with his boss Defense Secretary Robert Gates. The interview was conducted in Kabul, Afghanistan.

"We've made enormous progress in a number of different geographic areas within Afghanistan. And overall, the momentum has changed," the general said.

"I believe that we have had a great deal of success in achieving the mission that our forces have been given... in terms of disrupting Taliban activity, in terms of degrading their capabilities, in terms of denying them control of population areas," Gates said.

The qualified statements come as Gates and Petreaus prepare an assessment on the status of the war for the White House, which will determine the size of a potential troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. The comments also come as the political climate back home suggests Americans are growing impatient with the war.

An ABC News/Washington Post poll has found that 54 percent of Americans say the war in Afghanistan has not been worth fighting, and 73 percent say the United States should withdraw a substantial number of U.S. combat forces from Afghanistan this summer.

By most accounts "the surge" strategy President Obama decided to implement has achieved its goals. The U.S. has reclaimed southern Afghanistan, including Kandahar, the spiritual home of the Taliban. However, there is still fierce fighting in eastern Afghanistan along the border with Pakistan. Insurgent groups in Pakistan have sent reinforcements and there have been signs of foreign fighters also attacking U.S. forces.

Gates said Obama fully understands the impact of withdrawing troops, but the decision on troop numbers is ultimately up to the commander in chief.

While Obama has said there will be a substantial drawdown of the 100,000 U.S. forces, Gates has framed it as "modest" one for July, but said the number has not been decided on.

Petraeus said their job is to provide Obama with options and gauge the risks of each potential plan.

"It is ultimately the president's decision. And of course... we need to have congressional support. But they also need to understand consequences," the general said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Gates: No Decision Yet on Afghan Troop Reduction Numbers

Charles Dharapak - Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The plan is for the U.S. to begin pulling out U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan in July, but there has still been no recommendation made by Gen. David Petraeus about how many troops should come home.
That’s according to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who said at his media availability Tuesday with British Defense Minister Liam Fox, “I have not yet received General Petraeus' recommendations.  I expect that they will be coming in the not-too-distant future.”

Defense officials say there has been no presentation of numbers from Afghanistan to the Pentagon as to how many should come home.  They say any such discussion has been a tight hold.

Typically the military likes personnel decisions to be made with enough time to prepare or stand down troops for deployment, but in this case it could come very late in the process.  This is mainly because Petraeus wants to keep his current force level of 100,000 U.S. troops for as long as he can to fight off the Taliban when the fighting season is in full gear in a few weeks. 

It’s the middle of the poppy harvest right now, a time when young men work in the fields, and afterwards it’s typical for them to hire themselves out to the Taliban for the fighting season.  That could mean the full brunt of the fighting season won’t be seen until the same timeframe as when the administration will decide how many troops will come home in July.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Afghan Protests Continue Over Koran Burning; Petraeus Condemns Act

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(KANDAHAR, Afghanistan) -- On Sunday, for the third straight day, thousands of Afghans burned U.S. flags and condemned the actions of two pastors 8,000 miles away.

Protests erupted Friday after locals learned that Florida pastor Terry Jones supervised a burning of the Koran back in March, while another pastor, Wayne Sapp, soaked the holy book of Islam in kerosene and burned it.

In Kandahar City Sunday, things turned violent as 16 protesters were brought to the city’s main hospital with injuries. Two people were in critical condition, according to a hospital administrator. Sunday's violence wasn’t nearly as bad as the day before, when police shot into crowds, however local authorities did fire into the air Sunday to disperse rock-throwing protesters.

On Saturday, nine people were killed and at least 80 were injured after police opened fire on a crowd during violent demonstrations that saw protesters break into a school and burn a school bus during a massive protest in Kandahar City. On Friday, 11 people were killed during protests at a United Nations compound, seven of whom were U.N. staffers and guards.

In Jalalabad on Sunday, some 2,000 university students blocked the main highway leading to Kabul, chanting “death to America” and “death to Terry Jones.” The students burned an effigy of President Barack Obama, but otherwise remained peaceful.

Hundreds also protested in Panjwai and Parwan Province. No violence was reported in those areas.

ISAF Commander General David Petraeus and NATO SCR Ambassador Mark Sedwill on Sunday issued a statement condemning the Koran burning. The statement said that ISAF and NATO condemns any disrespect of the Koran and the Muslim faith, and specifically stated, “We condemn, in particular, the action of an individual in the United States who recently burned the Holy [Koran].”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio