Stirewalt: Panetta Trying to 'Build a Dam' Between Hillary's Foreign Policy and Obama's
In his new memoir, “Worthy Fights,” former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta blames the White House for pulling U.S. forces out of Iraq.
He recalled that the White House was "so eager to rid itself of Iraq that it was willing to withdraw rather than lock in arrangements that would preserve our influence and interests.”
Panetta, who also served as Obama's CIA director and was Bill Clinton's Chief of Staff, suggested the White House never really wanted a deal with the Iraqi government to allow some U.S. forces to stay in the country.
Last night, Megyn Kelly challenged State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki on Panetta's new revelations, and this morning FoxNews.com digital politics editor Chris Stirewalt weighed in on why Panetta is coming out with this now.
Stirewalt said Panetta is closing out his political career and wants to clear up the record, but then pointed to his close ties to the Clintons.
"He is also a core member of the Clinton inner circle. I would imagine this is part of building a dam between Hillary Clinton's foreign policy and Barack Obama's foreign policy, which very few people are optimistic about," said Stirewalt.
Bill Hemmer pointed to Panetta using the phrase "our side" to describe the differences of opinion on the withdrawal from Iraq.
Stirewalt believes "our side" represents a group of more "hawkish" officials within the administration that opposed the president, also including Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates, and David Petraeus.
Stirewalt called it "amazing" to see Panetta, a Democrat, using the same language as Mitt Romney and other Republican critics of the Iraq withdrawal.
The president has argued that the Iraqi government would not agree to legal immunity for U.S. troops and that is why no agreement could be reached on a stay-behind force.
Stirewalt pointed back to a 2012 debate between Obama and Mitt Romney in which the president "bashed" Romney for supporting a stay-behind force, but now claims he wanted some troops to stay.
"The president didn't try to get it done. It may be Nuri al-Maliki's fault. But the president didn't try to get it done is the claim and Panetta is now the strongest voice in that category," said Stirewalt.