WASHINGTON -- David Petraeus, the newly retired general with the megawatt media profile, was sworn in yesterday as CIA director, leaving behind a 37-year Army career that made him the best-known general of his generation.
Petraeus was given the oath by Vice President Joe Biden as the 20th director of the so-called silent service in a ceremony at the White House.
"You led and trained the 9/11 generation to become the greatest group of warriors this country has ever seen," Biden said of Petraeus. "You've excelled in every single thing you've done."
Yet that's part of the reason some in the White House are so wary of the famous former four-star general. Petraeus excelled even at persuading President Barack Obama to choose his Afghan troop surge over Biden's preference for a much smaller force of trainers and special operations troops to hunt terrorists -- which lent a touch of irony to having Biden conduct the event.
Admirers and detractors alike are watching to see whether Petraeus will use his influence with the media and Capitol Hill to push for a continued larger commitment of U.S. troops to Afghanistan, according to two current and one former U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive discussions at the National Security Council.
Petraeus already went on record at his Senate confirmation hearing that the drawdown of troops over the coming year announced by the president is faster than the military recommended.
Inside the CIA, there's concern that analysts will be pressured to emulate their new boss' rosier view of war progress, after producing a series of grim assessments of conditions in Afghanistan. Petraeus oversaw the Afghanistan war directly or indirectly for more than four years.
Petraeus has acknowledged differences with CIA analysts in the past, saying he thought the analysts were forced to rely on data at least 6 weeks old. He vowed to study their current system and find ways to get them more timely data.
"I respect the intellectual firepower as well as the courage, initiative and selfless commitment that are the hallmarks of this organization," Petraeus told employees on his first day, according to a statement from the CIA.