Vicious attacks on Petraeus cross the line

Tuesday, September 25, 2007 | 10:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:01 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA— For those of you who have missed me these past two weeks, my wife and I have just returned from an outing that included a weeklong cruise from Seward, Alaska, to Vancouver, British Columbia. In celebration of our 45th wedding anniversary, we treated ourselves to the exquisite cuisine, service, amenities and scenery one expects from such a vacation.

Our 49th state is indeed all that it is reported to be and more. Exotic and beautiful, it ranges from the primitive to the advanced— a wild and woolly frontier integrated with pockets of technology, entrepreneurship and a robust population. I am happy to report that the glaciers are still intact, the polar bears, reindeer and moose have not drowned and the flora appears to be in no immediate danger of becoming a tropical rain forest.

Among the activities enjoyed were rafting, a rail excursion to White Pass and, of course, shopping — a pastime for which I have no interest. We were treated to sightings of whales, porpoises and glacier calving. We opted out of dog sledding, hiking and bicycling in respect for age, infirmities and common sense.

One of the unexpected bonuses of this excursion was the near delicious isolation/insulation from the news of the day. While it is neither practical nor desirable in the long term, the brief respite from the daily dose of the sensational to the mundane and the significant to the useless was sincerely appreciated.

Two weeks minus the attacks and counterattacks against one another by the too many presidential hopefuls, the overblown antics of the beautiful people of the entertainment and sports worlds, the food fights of the Congress, the vociferous “I hate Bush more than you do” of the administration bashers and the absence of “9/11 was an inside job” cries of the conspiracy theorists was a period of blissful ignorance.

Fortunately or unfortunately, take your pick, the return to normalcy was prompt. Prominent headlines included the illegal taping activities of a prominent football coach, uttered inanities by actress Sally Field at the Emmy Awards, continued mudslinging by the various presidential candidates and one more “tell all” book, this one by former Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan. Possibly the most heartening news was the arrest and subsequent incarceration of O.J. Simpson, a happenstance which purports to be a somewhat belated but very welcome revolution of the wheels of justice.

By far, however, the most disturbing development is the subjecting of General David Petraeus, commander of our armed forces in Iraq, to the most vile and unfair treatment imaginable. His assessment of progress in the war has resulted in his very integrity being attacked by not only the anti-war left, but also members of Congress, presidential candidates, syndicated columnists, and – all tacitly or overtly supported by much of the mainstream media.

Admittedly, one may disagree with the war, its progress, its legality and even the assessment and the judgment of Petraeus; however, to impugn his integrity and actually accuse him of being predisposed to lie, as many in the opposition have done, has no place in the America in which I grew up. Such behavior is reprehensible and should be condemned by all who claim to be fair minded.

I was 7 years old when Pearl Harbor was attacked — my memories of World War II are both vivid and lasting. I cannot begin to visualize the reaction of the American public had officials of either political persuasion accused Gens. Dwight Eisenhower or Douglas MacArthur of lying.

The right to dissent does not include personal defamation.

J. Karl Miller retired as colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. He is a Columbia resident and can be reached via e-mail at

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