‘American hero’ Petraeus faints at Senate hearing

The commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East and South Asia fainted after ranking Republican John McCain called him one of the great American heroes. General David Petraeus is a lean, mean 57 year old but he got all lightheaded and collapsed at around 10:30 DC time. The hearing was suspended. He’s back up and wanted to testify but he was overruled by concerned Senators and will continue testimony tomorrow.

The Washington Independent’s Spencer Ackerman was watching the webcast and has the story.

[A] few minutes ago, right after Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)… called witness Gen. David Petraeus one of the great American heroes, Petraeus apparently fainted. The committee has been gaveled into recess while Petraeus receives medical assistance.

After about ten minutes, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East and South Asia “appears to be doing very much better” after being given some food. “He probably didn’t have enough water to drink this morning,” Levin said of the general. Petraeus is famously physically fit — I’ve actually exercised with him and been humiliated by a man twice my age — and perhaps it delicately bears mentioning that last year he received treatment for prostate cancer. Hopefully the problem is as mild as Levin portrayed it and the general will make a full and rapid recovery.


Update, 10:52 a.m.: … Petraeus told a panel that he was “just feeling a bit lightheaded” and quipped that it “wasn’t Senator McCain’s questions” that caused him to briefly faint. While Petraeus assured the panel that he was ready to continue his testimony — “always am,” he said — Levin overruled him to be on the safe side. Petraeus and Michele Flournoy, the undersecretary of defense for policy, will return to the panel tomorrow to finish testifying.

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