The top military commander in Iraq responded to an advertisement the anti-war lobby MoveOn.org published in the New York Times that accused him of betrayal at the National Press Club Wednesday morning.
Army General David H. Petraeus told a group of reporters: “Needless to say— and to state the obvious—I disagree with the message of those that were exercising the First Amendment right that generations of soldiers have sought to preserve for Americans. Some of it was just flat, completely wrong and the rest was at least more than arguable.”
On Monday morning, when Petraeus and Crocker made their first appearance to testify before Congress about progress being made in Iraq, MoveOn.org bought an ad in the New York Times that carried the large title: “General Petraeus or General Betray Us?”
“He is just trying to cook the books for the White House,” the ad said. “Today, before Congress and before the American people, General Petraeus is likely to become General Betray Us.”
The spot also characterized Petraeus as a “military man constantly at war with the facts” who “will not admit what everyone knows: Iraq is mired in an unwinnable religious civil war.”
Throughout the week, anti-war protesters, largely represented by Code Pink, interrupted Petraeus’ and Crocker’s three Congressional hearings. One sign carried outside the hearing rooms said: “GENERALS LIE, CHILDREN DIE.” On the first day of hearings, nine protestors, including Cindy Sheehan, were arrested by Capitol Hill police.
When Petraeus and Crocker testified to the House on Monday, the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee Rep. Ike Skelton (D.-Mo.) severely rebuked those who sought to interrupt his hearing and warned them they would be prosecuted. When protesters interrupted the Foreign Affairs committee hearing on Tuesday, however, Chairman Sen. Joe Biden (D.-Del.) said nothing.
The same group of protesters followed Petraeus and Crocker to the National Press Club Wednesday. One protester was dressed as Satan. He wore a face mask to resemble President Bush and carried a sign said: “I’ve got Petraeus by the SOUL.”
After the Moveon.Org advertisement ran on Monday, Sen. John Cornyn (R.-Tex.) introduced a resolution which “strongly condemn[ed] personal attacks” against Petraeus and indicated support for all members of the Armed services. When it was offered Wednesday on the Senate floor, the Democratic Majority Whip, Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.) used a parliamentary move, called a point of order based on “germaneness,” against the measure to prevent the Senate from voting on it.