Trump passed on Petraeus for top White House positions over 'red flags' like his opposition to torture, according to leaked documents

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Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, then-commander of U.S. Central Command, explains his leadership strategy during a leadership and counterinsurgency symposium at the National Press Club in Washington D.C., Sept. 23, 2009

(DoD/Petty Officer William Selby)

Former Army Gen. David Petraeus, the former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan who resigned in disgrace as CIA director amid revelations of an extramarital affairs, was passed over by then-president-elect Donald Trump's transition team because of his criticism of torture, according to leaked vetting documents.


The vetting documents, published by Axios on Sunday, consist of the Trump transition team's research into dozens of candidates for cabinet and senior administration officials

Those documents include vetting profiles on Petraeus, who was for a time under consideration for Secretary of State and National Security Adviser; James Mattis, who Trump nominated to serve as Secretary of Defense; and John Kelly, who served as Secretary of Homeland Security before transitioning to the West Wing as Trump's Chief of Staff.

According to Axios, Trump "reviewed many of these documents at Trump Tower and Bedminster before his interviews, according to a source who saw him eyeball them," with giant red subheadings covering topics like:

  • Benghazi ("House Republicans Claimed That Petraeus Misled Them In His September 2012 Testimony On Benghazi")
  • The Iran nuclear deal ("Petraeus Endorsed The Iran Nuclear Deal, And Suggested That Strong Deterrence Was Needed To Ensure Enforcement And Continued Stability After The Deal Expires")
  • Gun control ("Petraeus Supports Increased Gun Control")
  • Energy ("Petraeus Supports Expanding Energy Resources And New Types Of Energy Production")
  • ISIS and U.S. involvement in Syria ("Petraeus Has Implied That The U.S. Will Continue To Have A Role That Will Require Continued Presence In The Middle East Post-ISIS")
And then there's the whole torture section, which is worth highlighting on its own:

This is, of course, unsurprising. Let's recall then-candidate Trump's promise from a February 2017 Republican primary debate: "I would bring back waterboarding, and I'd bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding."

Former Marine Commandant Gen. Charles Krulak put it best: "Disregard for the law undermines our national security by reducing combat effectiveness, increasing the risks to our troops, hindering cooperation with allies, alienating populations whose support the United States needs in the struggle against terrorism, and providing a propaganda tool for extremists who wish to do us harm."

This is fine. Everything is fine.

Nothing says joint force battle management like a ride-sharing app. (Task & Purpose photo illustration)

The Air Force's top general says one of the designers of the ride-sharing app Uber is helping the branch build a new data-sharing network that the Air Force hopes will help service branches work together to detect and destroy targets.

The network, which the Air Force is calling the advanced battle management system (ABMS), would function a bit like the artificial intelligence construct Cortana from Halo, who identifies enemy ships and the nearest assets to destroy them at machine speed, so all the fleshy humans need to do is give a nod of approval before resuming their pipe-smoking.

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An F-15C Eagle is sporting a badass World War II-era paint job in honor of a fallen bomber pilot who gave everything to ensure his men survived a deadly battle.

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The wreckage of a U.S. Air Force E-11A Battlefield Airborne Communications Node aircraft is seen after a crash in Deh Yak district of Ghazni province, Afghanistan on January 27, 2020 (Reuters photo)

A U.S. E-11A Battlefield Airborne Communications Node aircraft crashed on Monday on Afghanistan, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein has confirmed.

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In this June 7, 2009 file photo Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) points to a player behind him after making a basket in the closing seconds against the Orlando Magic in Game 2 of the NBA basketball finals in Los Angeles. Bryant, the 18-time NBA All-Star who won five championships and became one of the greatest basketball players of his generation during a 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, died in a helicopter crash Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. He was 41. (Associated Press/Mark J. Terrill)

Beloved basketball legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and seven other people were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday. Two days earlier, Army Spc. Antonio I. Moore was killed during a vehicle rollover accident while conducting route clearing operations in Syria.

Which one more deserves your grief and mourning? According to Maj. Gen. John R. Evans, commander of the U.S. Army Cadet Command, you only have enough energy for one.

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Jessica Purcell of St. Petersburg, a captain in the Army Reserve, was pregnant with son Jameson when she was told at a MacDill Air Force Base clinic not to worry about lumps under her arm. She now is diagnosed stage 4 cancer. Jameson is 10 months old. (Tampa Bay Times/Scott Keeler via Tribune News Service)

Jessica Purcell, a captain in the U.S. Army Reserve, was pregnant with her first child when she noticed a swollen lymph node in her left underarm.

Health-care providers at a MacDill Air Force Base clinic told her it was likely an infection or something related to pregnancy hormones. The following year they determined the issue had resolved itself.

It hadn't. A doctor off base found a large mass in her underarm and gave her a shocking diagnosis: stage 2 breast cancer.

Purcell was pregnant again. Her daughter had just turned 1. She was 35. And she had no right to sue for malpractice.

A 1950 Supreme Court ruling known as the Feres doctrine prohibits military members like Purcell from filing a lawsuit against the federal government for any injuries suffered while on active duty. That includes injury in combat, but also rape and medical malpractice, such as missing a cancer diagnosis.

Thanks in part to Tampa lawyer Natalie Khawam, a provision in this year's national defense budget allows those in active duty to file medical malpractice claims against the government for the first time since the Feres case.

With the Department of Defense overseeing the new claims process, the question now is how fairly and timely complaints will be judged. And whether, in the long run, this new move will help growing efforts to overturn the ruling and allow active duty members to sue like everyone else.

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