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Ex-congressman who allegedly groped staffers claims Cheney wanted to institute ‘coup’

By John Byrne
Monday, May 24, 2010 9:55 EDT
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The same ex-congressman who claimed that there was no sexual intent behind his tickling of a staffer has a new one for ya.

“Gentlemen, what we have here is a constitutional crisis,” then-Congressman Eric Massa (D-NY) told editors for Esquire Magazine in January. “If what I’ve been told is true — and I believe it is — General David Petraeus, a commander with soldiers deployed in two theaters of war, has had multiple meetings with Dick Cheney, the former vice-president of the United States, to discuss Petraeus’s candidacy for the Republican nomination for the presidency. And in fact, that’s more than a constitutional crisis. That’s treason.”

The tale is developed by Ryan D’Agostino on Esquire‘s website as part of a longer profile piece on Massa, who resigned in March after accusations that he had sexually groped multiple male staffers. Massa himself gave conflicting statements about the incidents, telling Fox News’ Glenn Beck that “not only did I grope [a staffer], I tickled him until he couldn’t breathe,” and then later recanting on Larry King, saying “it is not true” he groped anyone he employed. He appears to have a history of serial fabrications.

D’Agostino expands upon Massa’s bold claim partway through his piece, writing:

One month before, in early January, Congressman Massa had called me and sketched out the bare bones of the tale he was now propounding. Four retired generals, he said — “three four-stars and one three-star” — had picked up disturbing reports that Petraeus, the commander of United States Central Command, whose portfolio contains the worst trouble spots on the globe, including Iraq and Afghanistan, had recently met with Cheney — twice — and Cheney was trying to recruit him to run in 2012. Were he to be the nominee, Massa said, Petraeus would be in the unprecedented position of a military man running for president against his own commander in chief.

“We have to see this for what it is,” Massa said, his voice pleading. “There is a reason that we have in this country civilian leadership of the military. It is, among other things, to avoid something like this. Because in order to succeed electorally, General Petraeus must fail militarily. You understand? In order to succeed electorally, he must fail in his mission. Were he to run and win — and if he were to run, he would win in a landslide — we would be witness to an American coup d’état. It is the functional equivalent of the political overthrow of the commander in chief.”

The congressman punctuated his sentence with a snort of indignation, followed by a short, high laugh. He searched the three other faces in the room for affirmation, any sign at all that we understood the gravity of the situation, because he had to that point been living alone with this unseemly knowledge. For a moment, he was met with silence. The story Massa had just told was staggering, and confusing. And just who was this man sitting before us? His eyes were wide and his voice thundered and a couple of times he seemed just short of hyperventilating. But if this story that four generals — “people whose names you know, very prominent military men” — had brought to him had any basis in fact, and if Petraeus were deliberately undermining his commander in chief, shouldn’t somebody be bellowing about it?

“Mark my words, as a naval officer of twenty-four years who has looked at our current conflicts from every angle, I believe that having David Petraeus as president is precisely the way for the Dick Cheneys of the world to perpetuate these wars for the rest of our lives, and to start new wars,” he later said, according to the piece. “To have endless wars. Endless war is their goal.”

Writes D’Agostino: “He also managed to impress upon us something else: Congressman Eric Massa was a little bit crazy.”

At Politico, Glenn Thrush blogs,

Petraeus, who is head of the U.S. Central Command, repeatedly and publicly has rebuked Cheney’s criticisms of Obama on torture policy.

“Whenever we have taken expedient measures, they have turned around and bitten us in the backside,” Petraeus said on Meet the Press earlier this year.

The Petraeus allegations are among several bizarre moments in the Esquire profile, including Massa’s admission that he considered killing himself in March.

D’Agostino catches Massa in lies throughout his piece. One concerns a former staffer who served as Massa’s veterans’ liason, who he says he has on the phone with him during one of their interviews. The Esquire reporter says he can hear the voice on the line, who says, “I got the impression he didn’t want to talk to you, to be honest with you.”

In the piece, Massa also says he considered suicide and once wandered through Washington in an Ambien-induced haze.

He even hits on the reporter, saying, “You better watch yourself around gay bars, my friend. It could get interesting.”

The full Esquire piece is available here.

 
 
 
 
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