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November 18, 2012

Hail to the Chief

"It's probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in." 
- Lyndon B. Johnson

The Rise of David Petraeus

Now that the election is over, it's safe to have David Petraeus out of the way. Before November 6, however, there was always that danger that the Republicans could bring him into the fold and run him against Obama. No doubt aware of the crude adage of Lyndon Johnson, Obama was happy to have the popular general remain within the administration, where friendly eyes could be focused on him.

When Gen. Stanley McChrystal was fired from Centcom in late June 2010, President Obama selected as his replacement Gen. David H. Petraeus. McChrystal had pissed off the President more than once. For example, as Rolling Stone reported:
Last fall, during the question-and-answer session following a speech he gave in London, McChrystal dismissed the counterterrorism strategy being advocated by Vice President Joe Biden as "shortsighted," saying it would lead to a state of "Chaos-istan." The remarks earned him a smackdown from the president himself, who summoned the general to a terse private meeting aboard Air Force One. The message to McChrystal seemed clear: Shut the fuck up, and keep a lower profile.
McChrystal had replaced Bush appointee, Gen. David McKiernan – then the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan – on the recommendation of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the Joint Chiefs, but due to his insubordination would serve only thirteen months at the top post. 

Military Balked on Day One

The day Obama was inaugurated, according to a report by the Daily Star,
CENTCOM commander General David Petraeus, supported by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, tried to convince President Barack Obama that he had to back down from his campaign pledge to pullout all US combat troops from Iraq within 18 months at an Oval Office meeting on January 21, sources have said....
There are indications that Petraeus and his allies in the military and the Pentagon, including General Ray Odierno, now the top commander in Iraq, have already begun to try to pressure Obama to change his withdrawal policy. A network of senior military officers is also reported to be preparing to support Petraeus and Odierno by mobilizing public opinion against Obama's decision....
The assertion that Obama's withdrawal policy threatens the gains allegedly won by the Bush troop surge and Petraeus' strategy in Iraq will apparently be the theme of the campaign that military opponents are now planning.[Retired army General John M. "Jack"] Keane, the army vice chief of staff from 1999-03, has ties to a network of active and retired four-star army generals, and since Obama's January 21 order on the 16-month withdrawal plan, some of the retired four-star generals in that network have begun discussing a campaign to blame Obama's troop withdrawal from Iraq for the ultimate collapse of the political "stability" that they expect to follow the US withdrawal, according to a military source familiar with the network's plans.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates, tried to convince President Barack Obama that he had to back down from his campaign pledge to pullout all US combat troops from Iraq within 18 months at an Oval Office meeting on January 21, sources have said.

Read more:
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::
Defense Secretary Robert Gates, tried to convince President Barack Obama that he had to back down from his campaign pledge to pullout all US combat troops from Iraq within 18 months at an Oval Office meeting on January 21, sources have said.

Read more:
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, tried to convince President Barack Obama that he had to back down from his campaign pledge to pullout all US combat troops from Iraq within 18 months at an Oval Office meeting on January 21, sources have said.

Read more:
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::
Defense Secretary Robert Gates, tried to convince President Barack Obama that he had to back down from his campaign pledge to pullout all US combat troops from Iraq within 18 months at an Oval Office meeting on January 21, sources have said.

Read more:
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::
A few months after the inauguration, rumors abounded that Gen. Petraeus was being courted by the likes of Dick Cheney to run against Obama in 2012 in the hope of reviving the defeated Republican Party. On October 12, 2009, Peter Beinert of the Daily Beast wrote:
It's worth remembering that the last time the Republican Party was in this bad a shape, in the early 1950s, two generals helped resuscitate it. 

There’s another analogy, however, that should worry Democrats even more: Not between General MacArthur and General McChrystal, but between General Dwight Eisenhower and General David Petraeus. Pundits have mused about the Eisenhower-Petraeus comparison before, but the Afghanistan slugfest gives it new relevance.
In the late Truman years, MacArthur, Joseph McCarthy, and the rest of the Republican right wing were a bit like Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck today. They succeeded in bloodying the Democrats and scaring the country about overseas threats. But their overseas warmongering and domestic radicalism made them too extreme to ever win national office themselves. Ike was different. He exploited the right’s hysteria, and yet sailed above it at the same time.

Petraeus and Others Had "Endless War" as Their Goal

The potentially most believable rumor was being quietly revealed to Esquire magazine's investigative reporter Ryan D'Agostino, who wrote that, in:
early January, Congressman Massa had called me and sketched out the bare bones of the tale he was now propounding. Four retired generals, he said — "three four-stars and one three-star" — had picked up disturbing reports that Petraeus, the commander of United States Central Command, whose portfolio contains the worst trouble spots on the globe, including Iraq and Afghanistan, had recently met with Cheney — twice — and Cheney was trying to recruit him to run in 2012. 

Were he to be the nominee, Massa said, Petraeus would be in the unprecedented position of a military man running for president against his own commander in chief....
Petraeus with Cheney
 [Massa] knew these generals intimately from his decades as a naval officer and because of his quickly rising prominence as a new member of the House Armed Services Committee. "They said, Eric, this is happening, and you've got to stop it," said the congressman. "And then it became my problem. They've left a steaming pile of dog shit on my desk, and now it belongs to me. And I am now in a position that if I do the right thing, I will likely be destroyed. I know who I'm dealing with here. David Petraeus and I go way back. He's wanted this from the very beginning. And mark my words, as a naval officer of twenty-four years who has looked at our current conflicts from every angle, I believe that having David Petraeus as president is precisely the way for the Dick Cheneys of the world to perpetuate these wars for the rest of our lives, and to start new wars. To have endless wars. Endless war is their goal."
Massa had taken office as a freshman Congressman on January 21, 2009. A year later this liberal Democrat, who favored the single-payer system for health care, was also complaining against the strong-arm tactics of his own party (Rahm Emanuel in particular) to get his vote for the Affordable Health Care Act, which passed in the House on March 21 without his vote.

The Fall of Eric Massa

Despite the indication made to the reporter that if he did "the right thing," he would "likely be destroyed," because of the immediacy and blatant nature of the pressure imposed during the days leading up to the vote on Obamacare, Massa connected his ultimate destruction to Democrats rather than to Petraeus or Cheny. His demise stemmed from complaints made by male staffers, submitted formally to the Ethics Committee by either his chief of staff,  Joe Racalto, or deputy chief of staff and legislative director, Ronald S. Hikel:
Racalto first raised questions about Massa's behavior with an aide to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) last October. At that time, according to another Pelosi aide, Massa's living arrangement – he shared a townhouse with several junior aides – and allegations that he used foul language around the office were the concerns discussed.

In February, Massa's deputy chief of staff, Ron Hikel, brought more serious allegations of harassment of junior staff to the attention of aides to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). Hoyer was, in turn, told, and he gave Massa's office 48 hours to take the matter to the House ethics committee.

Massa removed himself from the reach of the ethics panel by resigning his seat, but the committee has continued to look into the actions of other lawmakers and staff in handling allegations of harassment against Massa.
Dual Canadian/U.S. citizen Hikel worked on behalf of Eric Massa's election to Congress from 2006 until his resignation on February 26, 2010. Research into who Hikel really is is mind-blowing. His misspelled name showed up at Pam Gellar's website in the summer of 2008, just prior to Massa's successful election to Congress: "Obama's Foreign Contributions: Who is Ronald Hickel?" Her answer was that he was a "bundler" from Toronto, Canada. The connection between Hikel and "Hickel" was first made by the Left Coast Rebel blog, which stated:
Ron S. Hikel
If Massa is correct, then the allegations made by legislative director Ronald S Hikel (pictured above) would need to have been coerced by the Democratic leadership to create a situation that would remove Massa from office.

It turns out Mr. Hikel does in fact have a past of shady deals in relation to the Obama Administration. Pamela Gellar at Atlas Shrugs uncovered Hikel as a possible front man funneling foreign money into Obama’s campaign during the 2008 elections. Mr. Hikel’s LinkedIn page confirms that the Massa staffer is the same Ron Hikel in Pamela’s piece.
We also fill in the intervening years left out of his profile by a discovery that he was a consultant hired by a medical technology firm, ACTIVECORE TECHNOLOGIES, INC., which shows up in SEC records: 
"In May, 2004 Mr. Ron Hikel was engaged as a consultant to provide advice and assistance in the healthcare field to our MDI Solutions division. Mr. Hikel was issued 1,000,000 restricted common shares valued at $.015 for a value of $15,000. Mr. Hikel makes his own investment decisions."
The division which used Hikel's services apparently is engaged in software development for the Canadian healthcare industry, which has the single-payer system favored by Massa. A prolific author, Hikel has a  Zoom Information, Inc. profile, which also reveals:
Ron Hikel holds dual citizenship in the U.S. and Canada. He served in the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Naval Reserves, completed degrees in political science at Boston and Columbia Universities, taught political science in the U.S. and Canada, and ran a large social science study in Canada. He held Canadian government positions in both Health and Social Service Departments, and also consulted on health care issues within the private sector.

Gen. Wesley Clark
While working for Massa's election, Hikel had contributed to the 2004 Presidential campaign of Gen. Wesley Clark, who had spoken of seeing, in the wake of 9/11, 2001, a classified memo in which neocons in the Defense Department planned "to attack and remove governments in seven countries over five years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran." In Clark's words the memo constituted evidence of a "policy coup" during the George W. Bush term. In 2008 Clark considered another Presidential run, but instead he campaigned for Hillary Clinton.

Glenn Greenwald, in November 2011, writing in Salon, explored Clark's "neocon dream," which he credited to "collaborators from the Project for the New American Century."
Massa was also a friend of  Gen. Wesley Clark, working as a special assistant during Clark's reign as NATO supreme allied commander from 1998 until 2001; he then worked on the Clark 2004 campaign for President. Captain Petraeus, it turns out, had been an intern in 1984 for Colonel Wesley Clark, as Clark revealed to Jon Stewart of the Daily Show in 2007.

The final vote on healthcare took place on March 21, weeks after Massa and D'Agostino began work on the conspiracy article about Petraeus, but not published until late May.
Only one day after the issue date of D'Agostino's Esquire article, an Atlantic Wire review talked of its
bizarre revelations, including Massa's contention that Gen. David Petraeus is conspiring with Dick Cheney to run for president--something Massa calls "an American coup d'etat."
However, neither Esquire nor Atlantic Wire named any names of the military sources who may have witnessed the conspiracy or plans for perpetual war in the Middle East, and, even after the alleged meeting between Cheney and Petraeus, the general appeared on Meet the Press and avoided Rumsfeld and Cheney's approval of torture and departure from the abusive treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo.

Were the same generals who reputedly contacted Eric Massa still concerned about the potential he posed to run against Obama, even to be selected as Mitt Romney's running mate? Were the allegations against Massa true or, as he alleged, merely misinterpretations of his admittedly crude behavior?  We'll never really know. Massa did sue Joseph Racalto after the fact, but lost in court.

Selling Arms through Non Profit Think Tanks

Brig. Gen. Russell Howard
Now we have to wonder who, if anyone, may have given Paula Broadwell the task of hooking up with Petraeus while she was Deputy Director of the Jebsen Center for Counter-Terrorism Studies at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Jebsen Center Director was Brig. Gen. Russell D. Howard, who founded a center for Norwegian shipping for former banker Jan Henrik Jebsen, Chairman of the Gamma Applied Visions Group, a Swiss holding company which owns arms manufacturer, KRISS USA. KRISS makes the short-barrel, semi-automatic submachine gun which Broadwell both talks about and fires in an infomercial, called a documentary, for CNBC, which said that this weapon:

while technically legal for civilians, falls under the National Firearms Act and requires registration. In short, this video is not meant to sell guns to Second Amendment-loving American citizens — it's a B2B [business to business] pitch.

Broadwell appeared in the CNBC 'documentary'.
Robert Farago stated that Lt. Col. Paula Broadwell's "ties to top-level military personnel as the official biographer of Petraeus would have attracted the brand. Kriss has been trying to get military contracts for its weapons systems," he told Abe Sauer, writing for brandchannel on November 13, 2012.

A trustee at the Hudson Institute, for which Brig. Gen. Howard has given counter-terrorism presentations, Jan Henrik Jebsen served with other trustees including Walter P. Stern, a "long-time friend" of Dick Cheney, Richard N. Perle, and John C. Wohlstetter. Lewis "Scooter" Libby is now Senior Vice President of the Hudson Institute.

The Hudson Institute has been recommending its own spin on Petraeus ever since the scandal erupted in the news:
It is clear that Petraeus was a sweetheart, not only of Lt. Col. Broadwell, but of her friends at this center for neocon thought who won't give up short of another war, this time with Iran:
In seeing Iran as a threat to vital U.S. interests, Petraeus bucked the mainstream of more than 30 years of U.S. foreign policy. Presidents and legislators from both parties, as well as military and civilian officials, have tended to downplay the Iranian threat, seeking engagement with Tehran in the vague hopes of reaching a deal that might lead the regime to finally call off its dogs and leave us in peace. Petraeus, on the other hand, fought the Iranians.