Petraeus Responds to Cooking the Books Charge

Gen. David H. Petraeus responded at the National Press Center in D.C. Wednesday to charges that his report on violence in Iraq “cooked the books” by narrowly defining assassinations.

In response to a question about the ad in the New York Times which featured the headline “General Petraeus or General Betray Us?” he said that though he disagreed with what they said in the ad, he stood by their First Amendment rights to free speech “which generations of American soldiers have fought for.”

Petraeus then showed the press a copy of Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘If’ which he said had been sent to him from his home town, as a guide to how to react to the accusations against him.

Petraeus said he’d like to read it, but wouldn’t, given the time. Kipling’s poem is framed as advice to a young man on dealing with adversity, and includes the lines,” If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,”

Petraeus then went on to say that he would like to respond to charges by several journalists quoted on the website.

In response to claims that deaths were only counted as assassinations when victims were shot in the back of the head and not the front, Petraeus said these were a “myth.” He explained that there is a protocol for identifying victims of kidnapping and assassination; including evidence of being bound, tortured, and shot anywhere in the head.