Former NATO Commander Philip Breedlove defended himself on Saturday after The Intercept reported on leaked emails that showed him plotting to push President Obama to escalate tensions with Russia. “I think what you see is a commander doing what commanders ought to do,” Breedlove told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
Amanpour asked about emails — originally published by “hacktivist” website dcleaks.com — showing Breedlove seeking help from former Secretary of State Colin Powell on ways to get Obama to be more aggressive in defending the Ukraine against Russian invasion.
“I think POTUS sees us as a threat that must be minimized,” he wrote in a 2014 email, “ie do not get me into a war????”
Breedlove deflected Amanpour’s questions at first, slamming the source of the leaks, which has not been publicly identified. “Let’s talk about the frustration right up front — the frustration that a nation-state would hack into a private individual’s emails and then use those to put out there for political or military gain in the diatribe,” he said. Breedlove had retired as Air Force general a day before he spoke to Amanpour, so he was hardly a private citizen when he was hacked.
Phillip Carter, a former Pentagon official who is now a director at the Center for a New American Security, tweeted in response to the Intercept article that Breedlove’s dissent and backchannel lobbying “far exceeds what is appropriate for a US general.”
Amanpour also asked about the inflated Russian troop numbers Breedlove cited in his arguments.
Gen. Breedlove was caught inflating Russian troop numbers to pressure allies into war in Ukraine. Emails show his desperate search for intel— Lee Fang (@lhfang) July 1, 2016
“Well, Christiane, that subject has been talked about a lot,” he said. “It’s really kind of old news. But the bottom line is the numbers that I was using back during those discussions were numbers that were provided to me by my U.S. and my NATO intelligence forces. And so some of those numbers played out quite accurately later, as we knew more and more about what was actually going on.”