Political Animal


December 19, 2012 10:07 AM Midmorning Reads

By Samuel Knight

I would have posted this earlier, but had a dentist appointment scheduled six months ago that I forgot about until Monday — kind of like my own personal fiscal cliff, to draw a poor analogy that rightly deserves to be pilloried in the comments section.

Anyhow, here are some interesting reads, should you find yourself with a few spare moments today.

-A new thread in the Petraeus affair has emerged thanks to Rajiv Chandrasekaran of the Washington Post. A husband and wife team of “hawkish military analysts” friendly with the now disgraced General, dropped everything and went to Afghanistan on their own dime while he was in charge there. The General granted them sweeping access to highly sensitive information and they “used those privileges to advocate substantive changes in the U.S. war plan, including a harder-edged approach than some U.S. officers advocated in combating the Haqqani network, a Taliban faction in eastern Afghanistan.” The article, in my opinion, seems to highlight the real scandal of the Petraeus affair — access-for-PR.

-Amid all the uncertainty characterizing the situation in Syria, one thing is for sure: life there has become hellish. C.J. Chivers of the New York Times has profiled the struggle that is daily life in war weary Aleppo. Disease, supply shortages and disillusionment have become commonplace, according to his report.

-Statistics wunderkind Nate Silver has been named Out magazine’s person of the year. The profile makes for a delightful read for anyone who was on Team Nate throughout the campaign — cringing at how less scientific “analysts” blasted his refusal to buy into their self-serving horse race narrative. “I think he’s a terrible journalist,” Silver said of POLITICO’s Dylan Byers. He also talks about his personal life, his career as a number cruncher, and offers some thoughts on 2016.

-An independent commission concluded that the State Department’s security policy was inadequate, to say the least, in the run-up to the September 11 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. NPR reported that the “Accountability Review Board cites several key mistakes. It said that security depended heavily on local Libyan militias and that the State Department ignored requests for additional security assistance in the period leading up to the attacks.”

-A chilling of U.S.-Russia relations has followed President Obama’s signing of the Magnitsky Act into law: The Russian government is moving towards banning Americans from adopting Russian children in retaliation for the law, which, as The Guardian described, “imposes a visa ban and financial sanctions on Russians implicated in the death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died an excruciating death in jail while investigating corruption.”

Samuel Knight is a freelance journalist living in DC and a former intern at the Washington Monthly.


  • T2 on December 19, 2012 11:21 AM:

    so an independent panel cites the State Department as the main culprit in the Benghazi attack. That would be the State Dept. who's leader is Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State.
    The same Hillary Clinton that was not even mentioned by high level Republicans such as John McCain while he was blaming the entire Benghazi mess on Susan Rice, who is our Ambassador to the United Nations and in no way responsible for anything that happened at Benghazi. Weird world, huh?

  • Stetson Kennedy on December 19, 2012 11:22 AM:

    The General granted them sweeping access to highly sensitive information

    And I'm guessing without any security clearance, and this guy was running our CIA? Another example of Obama cowtowing to the GOP in order to get a nominee approved. It worked so well then, I'm sure it will work just as well when John Kerry becomes SOS. I hope you weren't counting on that friendly senate seat Mr. President.

  • Kathryn on December 19, 2012 11:38 AM:

    Gen. Patraeus has most certainly fallen off his perch of super General. Questionable friendships, succumbing to an affair and disturbing ( to me, at least) chatter with FOX about the "brilliant" fish eyed Roger Ailes. If I were Pres. Obama, I would be less than disturbed by his departure from the CIA.

  • Barbara on December 19, 2012 12:45 PM:

    Petraeus looks more like the Wizard of Oz every day.

  • Doug on December 19, 2012 8:57 PM:

    re Petraeus
    What this country needs is fewer generals thinking they're MacArthur and more trying to be George Marshall.