David Petraeus on Sunday pushed back on White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders's comments, saying the military "fiercely" defends the rights of Americans to express themselves. 

“I think we’re all fair game,” Petraeus, a retired U.S. Army general and former CIA director, told ABC's Martha Raddatz on "This Week." 

"We, in uniform, protect the rights of those to criticize us, frankly," he continued. 

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Sanders said last Friday that it would be "highly inappropriate" to question chief of staff John Kelly's criticism of a Florida congresswoman. 

"If you want to go after Gen. Kelly, that's up to you. But I think that if you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, that's something that's highly inappropriate," Sanders told a reporter. 

Kelly last Thursday mischaracterized Rep. Frederica WilsonFrederica Patricia WilsonLawmakers planning hearings over deadly Niger attack Record number of black women running for office in Alabama after Roy Moore defeat Florida Democrat: '80 percent' of the US agrees with students on gun control MORE's (D-Fla.) comments at a 2015 dedication ceremony for an FBI building. 

Kelly referred to Wilson as an "empty barrel" who took credit for getting funding for the building. 

The chief of staff also offered an emotional defense of President Trump's phone call to the widow of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed in Niger, saying he was stunned to learn Wilson had listened in on the call and spoke to the media about it.