Gen. Petraeus’ “rider”

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Retired Gen. David Petraeus has lowered his profile since hanging up his camouflage to helm the CIA last fall, and his foreign trips now go mostly unpublicized. But some Agency hands apparently find the new director’s list of requirements–cabled to foreign stations ahead of his travel to their outposts—a bit much.

One Agency veteran relayed what he described as Petraeus’ request list to the Back Channel. Among the items:

  • Fresh pineapple each night before he goes to bed (not canned)
  • Sliced bananas for his cereal in the morning
  • Someone to accompany him on his morning runs, and a route devised that preferably avoids crossing any streets.
  • Also, he noted, the former General doesn’t open doors. “All doors have to be open when he arrives,” the former senior CIA officer said.

In addition, the intelligence chief requests that six empty wine glasses be placed in his room, in case he needs to host foreign dignitaries or members of the travel party after a long day of meetings.

A CIA spokesman, asked for comment on the list, said that as a rule, the Agency does not discuss the details of the Director’s travel. But he noted the items on the alleged list would seem to reflect a Director who takes care of his health—(Petraeus, 59, had surgery for prostate cancer a couple years ago)–and is an avid runner.

“The fact of the matter is that Director Petraeus pays a great deal of attention to his health,” CIA spokesman Preston Golson said by email.  “He has a lifelong commitment to physical fitness, and that naturally includes a careful diet.”

“As for running—not jogging—it’s hard to do a six-minute mile if you’re waiting at an intersection,” Golson added.

Security requirements explain why he doesn’t often open doors, an official explained. “Any Agency head or Cabinet official—who is accompanied by a protective detail everywhere they go—doesn’t end up opening many doors for security purposes,” a senior US official familiar with executive travel said on condition of anonymity. “It makes complete sense to keep an official moving as they travel through public areas.”

As for the wine glasses, some say it’s pretty standard for the job.

It’s worth noting that Petraeus isn’t the first CIA director to have such an executive requirements list, and indeed that many cabinet chiefs/executives have them. Former CIA Director Michael Hayden requested M-n-Ms be available, for instance, the former CIA officer who relayed the wish list recalled.

But in the Agency veteran’s opinion, some of the items on Petraeus’ request list are somewhat demanding for Agency stations that are far less staffed than the senior ranks of the U.S. military.

“Imagine the guy in Tbilisi or Helsinki” who has to find fresh pineapple, the former Agency officer said. “The point is: most stations are really small and they are not set up for this.”

 

(CIA Director David Petraeus and Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon shake hands at a private meeting in Mexico City in January 2012: Reuters.)