Gingrich: Scandal Shouldn't End Petraeus' Career

Saturday, 17 Nov 2012 06:25 PM

By Stephen Feller and Kathleen Walter

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Newt Gingrich said that despite recent revelations about his personal life, former CIA Director David Petraeus will be regarded well for his 37 years of service to the country and may even at some point re-enter public life.

The gap between what Petraeus said he understood about the situation and what the White House presented to the media, he said, is puzzling and concerning — and makes a special committee investigation much more essential to understanding what happened in Benghazi on Sept. 11.

Story continues below video.

Despite the public revelations of Petraeus’ affair with his biographer, Gingrich said his work in the armed forces and with the CIA overshadow the significant mistake he made in his personal life.

“This is a very talented, competent person,” Gingrich said. “He has said it was a mistake. He’s apologized to his family. He’s apologized to the CIA and to the country. It’s a painful moment in his life but I don’t think it ends his potential.”

Calling him a “great American leader,” Gingrich said he could see Petraeus taking an important position in the future, potentially anything from secretary of homeland security to secretary of state.

“He spent 37 years serving the country, risking his life,” he said. “He was the key to our turning things around in Iraq. He did a good job of rebuilding our capacity in Afghanistan. People will remember (him) as a very serious, competent patriot who made a mistake. But I don’t think the mistake will erase his achievements. Two or three or four years from now, when he’s got things sorted out at home, I could imagine him coming back and doing a very significant job.”

Testifying before House and Senate Congressional committees on Friday, Petraeus said that the original talking points sent up the chain from the CIA regarding the Benghazi terror attack included information that the attack could have been the work of terrorists as well in addition to the possibility that it was a reaction to a documentary critical of the Muslim religion.

In the testimony, he said, however, that somewhere along the line the parts about the attack being terrorist-related were removed, and that was why U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice only discussed the video when she spoke with the press in the early days following the attack.

“I find it puzzling that if the director of Central Intelligence, from the get-go, as he put it, said, ‘Look, this is a terrorist attack,’ why did Ambassador Rice go on five different television shows the following Sunday and say this is all because of some stupid movie," according to Gingrich.

"I don’t understand psychologically where Obama’s coming from on this issue," he said. "It’s almost as though he never wants to tell the truth about Islamic radicalism for whatever reason, whether it’s ideological or psychological or whatever it is.”

Gingrich added, that there is a "big gap" between what Rice said on television and what Petraeus told Congress.

“[Rice] may be perfectly innocent but if she’s perfectly innocent, somebody isn’t," said Gingrich. "And if Petraeus is over here saying we said from the get-go, there’s some big gap here — between what she was saying publicly and what Gen. Petraeus now claims he was briefing the White House privately.”

See more from our exclusive interview with Newt Gingrich:

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