Retired Gen. David Petraeus, who led U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq and served as CIA director after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, points out that in the 20 years since, there has not "been another 9/11." But as one of the builders of the 9/12 world, he told Politico, the U.S. made some mistakes. One in particular: Torture.
"What did we get wrong? Really, overall, enhanced interrogation techniques," Petraeus told Politico's Bryan Bender and Daniel Lippman for an article Friday that asked the same question of 16 other architects of the post-9/11 order. "That very much damaged our reputation and it damaged our relationships with countries in which we had black sites," or secret terrorist detention centers around the world. "The use of enhanced interrogation techniques in other places then found their way into, in a way, Abu Ghraib," he said, and the scandal at that Iraqi prison showed the world what the U.S. was doing in graphic photos.
He also said the U.S. "overly relied on drones in the effort in western Pakistan in 2009 to 2011," in some cases creating more enemies that the drones eliminated.
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And Petraeus said that the U.S. invasion of Iraq — which he said he will not judge on its own merits — squandered U.S. success in Afghanistan. "You focus on Iraq very early on and so we never got ahead of the situation in Afghanistan, where of course the Taliban are shattered and al Qaeda is shattered," he said. "They're all over in Pakistan and they gradually start to regroup. It takes them years to do this, during which we completely missed the opportunity to start building host-nation security forces in a serious way and start supporting host-nation governance." You can read more post-9/11 second-guessing at Politico.
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