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Cynical Manipulation at the Petraeus Testimony? Never!

This is getting disgusting. Last year, when General David Petraeus trudged to Capitol Hill to report on the surge’s fortunes, the White House scheduled it on an unsubtle date: September 11. Well, it’s almost time for Petraeus II: Wrath Of The (Troop Deployment) Math. But when is he supposed to testify, exactly? Peter Baker at the Washington Post had a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it explanation on Saturday:

Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker will return to Capitol Hill to testify on April 8 and 9, updating lawmakers from their last appearance in September.

What happened on April 9, again? Oh, yeah — the fall of Baghdad to U.S. forces in 2003. So Petraeus will be able to say something like, “Five years ago today, our country was united in purpose as U.S. troops entered Baghdad and ended the malevolent rule of Saddam Hussein. If you think the chaos that we saw in the aftermath of the old regime’s fall was worrisome, imagine what will happen in the wake of a premature drawdown of those troops…” Granted, April 9 is no 9/11, but there aren’t many auspicious dates on the Operation Iraqi Freedom calendar. Come to think of it, an Iraq war retrospective would have fewer noteworthy gems than an REO Speedwagon greatest-hits collection.

I have interviewed Petraeus more than once and have always thought of him as an honorable man. But if he isn’t actively complicit in this craven manipulation of the Iraq debate, he’s not objecting very loudly. And as it turns out, I’m reliably informed that Petraeus’s next round of testimony is scheduled for July 4 and December 25.

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