Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Fmr. CIA Director Petraeus Cozy With Think Tanks

Here is what the Washington Post reports:
Prominent members of conservative, Washington-based defense think tanks were given permanent office space at his headquarters and access to military aircraft to tour the battlefield. They provided advice to field commanders that sometimes conflicted with orders the commanders were getting from their immediate bosses.
Here is another excerpt from a different Washington Post article on Petraeus:
He [Petraeus] published on counterinsurgency, an idea that earned him some attention in D.C. policy circles – including some conservative think tanks with access to the White House – and would later guide his “surge” approach in Iraq.
The Atlantic asks which think tanks Petraeus was courting.

Rod Dreher of The Conservative American asks the same questions.  Wanders Dreher:
Who are these prominent think tank members, and who funds their think tanks? Is there a reasonable explanation for this, one that would also justify allowing prominent members of liberal think tanks to have similar privileges? I can’t think of any. Help me out here.
Retired US Army Lt. Col. John Nagl, the former President of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), is friends with Petraeus.  Nagl remains a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at CNAS.  Thomas Ricks, a Senior Fellow at CNAS, is also considered somewhat close to Petraeus.  He says that he has been friends with Petraeus for about 15 years.

As Think Tank Watch noted in a previous post, Brookings Institution scholar Michael O'Hanlon is a close friend of Petraeus.  During the time of that post, there was some speculation that Petraeus could become the next president of Princeton.  O'Hanlon, Director of Research and Senior Fellow at the liberal-leaning Brookings, is also on the Board of Advisors at CNAS.  He is also on the CIA's External Advisory Board.

Former Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) has also said that she is good friends with David Petraeus and his wife, Holly.  Harman is currently Director, President, and CEO of the Wilson Center.  She is also on the CIA's External Advisory Board, just like Michael O'Hanlon.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) also has connections to Petraeus.  The Institute's President, Dr. Kimberly Kagan, assisted Petraeus with key transition tasks following his assumption of command in Afghanistan in 2010.  Kagan is the spouse of the neoconservative writer Frederick Kagan.

ISW hosted Petraeus for a conversation in January 2010.  At that event, Petraeus reportedly praised Kim Kagan and husband Frederick Kagan, who is the Christopher DeMuth Chair and Director, Critical Threats Project, at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).  [A recent op-ed in the Washington Post that the Kagans penned on Afghanistan troop levels can be found here.]

Petraeus lauded the "surge" in Iraq and reportedly praised a study sponsored by AEI titled "Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq."  That study was led by Fred Kagan and retired Gen. Jack Keane (an ISW board member), with Kim Kagan and a number of AEI scholars including Danille Pletka, Michael Rubin, Reuel Marc Gerecht, Thomas Donnelly, and Gary Schmitt, among others, as advisors.

Here is another article on Petraeus and think tanks.  It mentions the two part series by Michael Flynn (linked above) in his article titled "Surge of Think Tanks Blurs US Policy Lines."  Part II on that series can be found here.  The article notes that David Petraeus was awarded AEI's Irving Kristol Award in 2010.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post on former CIA officials who have joined think tanks.