I wasn’t able to make the Senate Armed Services Committee’s hearing this morning on Afghanistan owing to another commitment, so I had to catch the webcast. And a few minutes ago, right after Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the ranking Republican on the panel, called witness Gen. David Petraeus one of the great American heroes, Petraeus apparently fainted. The committee has been gaveled into recess while Petraeus receives medical assistance.
After about ten minutes, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East and South Asia “appears to be doing very much better” after being given some food. “He probably didn’t have enough water to drink this morning,” Levin said of the general. Petraeus is famously physically fit — I’ve actually exercised with him and been humiliated by a man twice my age — and perhaps it delicately bears mentioning that last year he received treatment for prostate cancer. Hopefully the problem is as mild as Levin portrayed it and the general will make a full and rapid recovery.
Levin said the committee will make a decision shortly about whether to proceed with the hearing. I’ll update when I know more.
*Update, 10:52 a.m.: *Apologies to the general for bringing up the cancer thing, but that was a bit frightening. Sure enough, though, Petraeus told a panel that he was “just feeling a bit lightheaded” and quipped that it “wasn’t Senator McCain’s questions” that caused him to briefly faint. While Petraeus assured the panel that he was ready to continue his testimony — “always am,” he said — Levin overruled him to be on the safe side. Petraeus and Michele Flournoy, the undersecretary of defense for policy, will return to the panel tomorrow to finish testifying.
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