Last week it was revealed that the much-ballyhooed Petraeus Report on the ‘surge’ in Iraq was actually going to be written by White House officials (with ‘input’ from Gen. Petraeus). ThinkProgress points out that “Petraeus is mandated by Congress to testify about the Iraq status report before the document is delivered on September 15.” On Thursday the Washington Post reported that the White House was considering limiting the good General’s requisite appearance on Capitol Hill to a private congressional briefing, with the actual report to be delivered by Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert “Iran Contra” Gates.
However, the National Review’s Campaign Spot blog reports that John McCain let it slip during a conference call with reporters today that Petraeus will be kicking off the Latest Friedman Dog and Pony Tour by testifying before the US Senate in open hearings…possibly on September 11th.
At a press briefing earlier today White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe confirmed that Petraeus (and Iraq Ambassador Ryan Crocker) would be openly testifying, along with the potential date(s) this could occur:
Q And the second one is, there’s been some confusion about the whens, hows, wherefores of the Crocker-Petraeus testimony to Congress. Can you say when they’re going to testify before Congress and under what conditions?
MR. JOHNDROE: Yes. General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker will testify in open hearings on the Hill. Administration officials are reaching out to Hill leadership today to discuss with them the potential dates for that testimony. Given the tight schedule leading up to September 15th and the congressional recess with Rosh Hashanah coming up, the likely dates for testimony are September 11th and 12th.
Q That’s really just because of the tight schedule and not because it’s September 11th?
MR. JOHNDROE: That’s right. Congress is not — as of right now, based on the last we checked, Congress is not in session because of the Rosh Hashanah holiday, very much the week leading up to that Saturday, September 15th.
To be fair, as David Weigel points out, it’s unclear whether the executive branch or Congressional Democrats will be ultimately deciding the date of Petraeus’ testimony. Regardless, one can’t help but be suspicious (and cringe) at the very convenient timing. Carolyn O’Hara of FP Passport puts it bluntly: “Nothing says “we need to continue the surge” like reminding Americans that Saddam planned 9/11. Somewhere, Karl Rove must be laughing.”
Yeah, laughing till it fucking hurts. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: September (11th?) is going to be ‘Powell goes to the UN’ all over again. Words fail.
Update: Kyle also thinks the timing is too opportune to be mere coincidence, and ponders something I’ve also been pondering as of late:
I could be wrong, I kinda hope I am, but right now my conflation senses are tingling, and I have a more than strong feeling that this “report” if that’s what you choose to call it will be heavily tied in with 9-11 sentiments and the like. Not like we haven’t seen that before.
At this point the true question is, are we over it yet? Has this kind of political tactic finally jumped the shark? Not honest remembrance of 9-11, but the completely cynical and disrespectful political manipulation thereof?
If we aren’t, if it hasn’t, we need to find a way to make it so.