Ex-general Petraeus says he’s ready to be top US diplomat

Retired US General David Petraeus speaks to members of the media while leaving Trump Tower on Nov. 28, 2016 in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP)
Updated 04 December 2016

Ex-general Petraeus says he’s ready to be top US diplomat

WASHINGTON: David Petraeus, the army ex-general who resigned in disgrace as head of the CIA, said Sunday that he’s paid for his mistakes and is ready to become Donald Trump’s chief diplomat.
Petraeus has interviewed with the president-elect and is on the short list to become the new president’s secretary of state.
“I have acknowledged for a number for years that five years ago I made a serious mistake, I acknowledged it, I apologized for it, I have paid a heavy price for it, and I have learned from it,” Petraeus said on ABC News.
The 64-year-old scholar-warrior, who masterminded the widely credited surge in Iraq from 2008-2010, has a depth of experience in world affairs unmatched by any of the other candidates known to be under consideration.
But in 2012 he resigned from the CIA after showing classified material to his mistress and biographer Paula Broadwell.
In 2015 he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified materials, and was put on two years’ probation and fined $100,000.
“I made a false statement at that time I did not think it was false,” Petraeus told ABC.
Speaking on NBC’s Meet the Press, Trump’s running mate Mike Pence confirmed that Petraeus is a finalist for the job, along with former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, ex-UN ambassador John Bolton, former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and Republican senator Bob Corker.
Pence, who praised the general as “an American hero,” said that Petraeus “made mistakes and he paid for this mistakes.”
Trump “will factor the totality of general Petraeus’s career in making this decision,” Pence added.
Petraeus’s scandal, however, could pose a problem for getting Senate approval, and would expose Trump to accusations of hypocrisy after he savaged Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail for mishandling classified e-mails as secretary of state.
Petraeus disclosed “information that was far more highly classified than I ever did,” and yet never “spent a single day in jail,” said Edward Snowden, the former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor who lives in exile in Russia, in an interview with Yahoo! News.
In 2013 Snowden leaked thousands of classified documents in 2013 revealing the vast US surveillance of private data put in place after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The 33-year-old is wanted in the United States on charges of espionage and theft of state secrets that could land him up to 30 years in jail.


UK Commons speaker deals new blow to Johnson’s Brexit plan

Updated 21 October 2019

UK Commons speaker deals new blow to Johnson’s Brexit plan

  • John Bercow plunged the tortuous Brexit process back into grimly familiar territory: grinding parliamentary warfare
  • Johnson’s government was seeking a “straight up-and-down vote” on the agreement he struck with EU nations

LONDON: Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to lead Britain out of the European Union at the end of this month hit another roadblock Monday when the speaker of the House of Commons rejected his attempt to hold a new vote of lawmakers on his Brexit divorce deal.
The ruling by Speaker John Bercow plunged the tortuous Brexit process back into grimly familiar territory: grinding parliamentary warfare.
With just 10 days to go until the UK is due to leave the bloc on Oct. 31, Johnson’s government was seeking a “straight up-and-down vote” on the agreement he struck last week with the 27 other EU nations.
The request came just two days after lawmakers voted to delay approving the Brexit deal. Bercow refused to allow it because parliamentary rules generally bar the same measure from being considered a second time during the same session of Parliament unless something has changed.
Bercow — whose rulings in favor of backbench lawmakers have stymied government plans more than once before — said the motion proposed by the government was “in substance the same” as the one Parliament dealt with on Saturday. He said it would be “repetitive and disorderly” to allow a new vote Monday.
On Saturday — Parliament’s first weekend sitting since the 1982 Falklands War — lawmakers voted to make support for the Brexit deal conditional on passing the legislation to implement it.
Johnson’s Conservative government will now go to its Plan B: get Parliament’s backing for his Brexit blueprint by passing the legislation, known as the Withdrawal Agreement Bill. The government plans to publish the bill later Monday and hopes to have it become law by Oct. 31.
But it’s unclear whether Johnson has either the time or the numbers to make that happen.
Passing a bill usually takes weeks, but the government wants to get this one done in 10 days. Johnson needs a majority in Parliament to pass it, but his Conservatives hold just 288 of the 650 House of Common seats.
The process also gives lawmakers another chance to scrutinize — and possibly change— the legislation.
Opposition lawmakers plan to seek amendments that could substantially alter the bill, for example by adding a requirement that the Brexit deal be put to voters in a new referendum. The government says such an amendment would wreck its legislation and it will withdraw the bill if it succeeds.
Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay urged lawmakers to back the bill and — more than three years after British voters narrowly voted to leave the EU — “enable us to move onto the people’s priorities like health, education and crime.”
“This is the chance to leave the EU with a deal on Oct. 31,” he said. “If Parliament wants to respect the referendum, it must back the bill.”
With the Brexit deadline looming and British politicians still squabbling over the country’s departure terms, Johnson has been forced to ask the EU for a three-month delay to Britain’s departure date.
He did that, grudgingly, to comply with a law passed by Parliament ordering the government to postpone Brexit rather than risk the economic damage that could come from a no-deal exit. But Johnson accompanied the unsigned letter to the EU late Saturday with a second note saying that he personally opposed delaying the UK’s Oct. 31 exit.
Pro-EU activists, who took the government to court in Scotland to ensure that it complied with the law, said the second letter might amount to an attempt to frustrate the legislation. Scotland’s highest court said Monday it would keep the case open, retaining the power to censure Johnson’s government until its obligations under the law have been complied with “in full.”
The claimants’ lawyer, Elaine Motion, said the ruling meant “the sword of Damocles remains hanging” over the government.
The bloc said the fact Johnson had not signed the letter was irrelevant.
European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said Monday that European Council President Donald Tusk had acknowledged receiving the Brexit extension request and was now talking with the EU’s other 27 leaders about it.
Those 27 EU leaders are weary of the long-running Brexit saga but also want to avoid a no-deal British exit, which would damage economies on both sides of the Channel.
Germany’s economy minister suggested it could be a few days before the EU decided to respond to the Brexit delay request.
“We will have somewhat more clarity in the coming days, and we will then exercise our responsibility and quickly make a decision,” Germany’s Peter Altmaier said.
He told Deutschlandfunk radio that he wouldn’t have a problem with an extension by “a few days or a few weeks” if that rules out a no-deal Brexit.
But French President Emmanuel Macron, who had a phone call with Johnson over the weekend, called for a quick clarification of the UK’s position. In a statement, he said a delay “would not be in any party’s interest.”
France’s junior minister for European affairs, Amelie de Montchalin, told French news broadcaster BFM TV there would have to be some reason for the delay, such as a parliamentary election in Britain or a new British referendum on Brexit.