Panetta: Not Leaving Ground Troops in Iraq Was a "Mistake"

Daniel Doherty
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Posted: Oct 08, 2014 11:30 AM
Panetta: Not Leaving Ground Troops in Iraq Was a "Mistake"

Sparring with Bill O’Reilly on cable television is one way to promote your new book -- but it’s not always the most fun. For example, watch in the interview below as the veteran television host cross-examines his guest for 12 straight minutes.

Panetta was asked (among other things) about his former boss’ incoherent foreign policy; his failure to leave a residual ground force presence in Iraq (which O’Reilly described as a “colossal blunder”); his tendency to blame the intelligence community for his own failures; and his utter surprise at the expansion and growth of ISIS.

For his part, Panetta didn’t go as far as to publicly disavow the man he once worked for but he didn't give him a resounding endorsement, either:

One gets the impression that Panetta wanted to criticize the president for his “mistakes” and “mixed" messaging, but for whatever reason never took the bait. For instance, when O'Reilly asserted that the president doesn’t have the "stomach” to fight ISIS, Panetta disagreed.

“I’m a guy who believes that Barack Obama -- by virtue of what I’ve seen in the time I was there -- has the guts to do the right thing,” he said. “The real question is will he make the decision to do it.”

Panetta argued that the president now finally understands the ISIS threat -- although he needs to do a much better job explaining to the public his policies and why destroying ISIS will “take time.”

I'll leave you with this: Charles Krauthammer calling the interview you just watched "utterly devastating" for the commander-in-chief. Take a look: