The Petraeus affair

By that title I mean the broad range of issues related to the forced resignation of David Petraeus as CIA Director on 2012-11-09.
Here are some selected articles which go a little beyond
what is in the main-stream media on this subject.

The Petraeus Affair and the Risk of Blackmail:
Another Nail In America’s Coffin

by Eamonn Fingleton
www.forbes.com/sites/eamonnfingleton, 2012-11-10

How to Avoid a Petraeus-Style Snafu:
Advice from an Internet Pro

by Eamonn Fingleton
www.forbes.com/sites/eamonnfingleton, 2012-11-13


For better or worse, similarly “mission critical” officials in other nations
are not similarly vulnerable [to potential blackmail].
This applies in spades in East Asia.
Whether we are talking about China, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, or any other nation of the Confucian world,
a man’s sexual behavior is — within large limits —
not a national security issue.
It is simply taken for granted that “boys will be boys.”


The problem of blackmail is, of course, hardly new.
But several developments have made it much more serious in recent decades:

1. In the post-Watergate era, the press is much more aggressive in using officials’ peccadillos to force resignations. Thus whereas in the 1960s the Kennedy brothers, for instance, led scandalous private lives, they were largely immune to pressure because they could rely on the press to look the other way.

2. In these globalist times, foreign governments and corporations are much more heavily engaged in every aspect of American governmental and business life than formerly.

3. Technology has drastically reduced the cost and improved the efficiency of espionage. The vulnerabilities created by the rise of email are well known (it seems to have been email that was Petraeus’s downfall). Of probably even greater significance is the rapid progress of miniaturization in video surveillance. Take, for instance, charge coupled devices (CCDs). These can now be made as small as a grain of sand, yet judiciously placed in say a bedroom they can provide a video record of all that transpires. Not only does technology make it much easier to gather highly compromising evidence but it makes it cost-effective to track a vastly larger number of victims. Not the least of the possibilities is that countless younger people can be put under surveillance long before they reach positions of significant power. Computerized record-keeping does the rest.

The Petraeus affair’s resulting witch hunt
By David Ignatius
Washington Post, 2012-11-16


When you look at the various scandals entwined around leading national-security figures, they have a common feature, which is that they were all driven to the surface by the fear of political exposure. It’s worth considering for a moment the way in which politics — and the rush to get out ahead of anticipated disclosure — has driven this process and made it more damaging than it needed to be.

This political nexus was spotted by Jane Mayer of The New Yorker in a recent blog post. She noted that the dominoes began to fall when a self-appointed FBI whistleblower went to Republican members of Congress, first Rep. Dave Reichert of Washington state and then House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, to warn them of a possible coverup of an investigation of CIA Director David Petraeus. Cantor’s staff called the office of FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, and the fat was in the fire.

Knowing that the supersensitive investigation (which apparently was then winding down) had become a political football, Mueller’s deputy Sean Joyce called Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Nov. 6. Clapper summoned Petraeus, counseled him to resign and informed the White House. Three days later, Petraeus was gone.

Fear of political blowback also triggered the revelation that Gen. John Allen, the U.S. commander in Kabul, had been exchanging possibly inappropriate e-mails with Jill Kelley, the Tampa socialite, military liaison and, judging from what we’ve read, all-around busybody. The FBI had already reviewed Allen’s e-mails as part of the Petraeus investigation, but last Sunday the FBI decided to inform the Pentagon and turn over 20,000 to 30,000 pages exchanged between Allen and Kelley. On Monday afternoon, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta decided to go public, open a Pentagon investigation of Allen and suspend his confirmation as the next U.S. commander in Europe.

Why did the Pentagon suddenly and publicly drop Allen into limbo? We still don’t know what is in the e-mails, beyond some “sweetheart” language. But Panetta clearly was worried about political fallout. Allen was due to testify before Congress on Thursday and, as a senior Pentagon official explained: “If you don’t inform Congress of the FBI referral, that becomes a problem.”

In the aftermath of the McCarthy investigations in the 1950s, when Americans wondered how responsible officials could have allowed such a reckless “witch hunt” that ruined reputations on the flimsiest evidence, Arthur Miller wrote a play called “The Crucible” about the Salem witch trials of 1692. The genius of the play was that it explained how sensible early Americans could have been swept up in a process of public shaming and destruction of character.

Amazingly, many members of Congress talk as if
the real outrage here was that
they weren’t informed earlier about the investigations of Petraeus and Allen.
“We should have been told,” said Dianne Feinstein,
chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, last Sunday.
To which an observer might respond vernacularly: Give me a break.

The idea seems to have developed that the CIA and the military work equally for Congress and for the executive branch.
They don’t.
They work for the president, who is commander in chief.
Congress appropriates the money
and has a legitimate role in overseeing how it’s spent.
But the idea that these scandals demonstrate the need for
greater congressional involvement in sensitive investigations
is preposterous.

The day Petraeus resigned,
I received an e-mail from an Arab intelligence contact
who expressed what surely has been going through the minds of many people around the world.
I will quote it precisely, punctuation and all:
“He needs to resign cause he has an affair?
What da hell???
He is brilliant!!!!
Why like this????”

[In a comment I made on Friday, November 9 based on the initial NYT report on Petraeus's resignation,
but which somehow was deleted,
I gave the answer to his question,
in words that may be unacceptable, but I will paraphrase here:
Because America is under the control of feminist bitches
who never miss a chance to kick any misbehaving men any way they can.]

Petraeus is gone, but the hunt for miscreants is still gathering force.
For a reminder of why it’s dangerous, take a look at “The Crucible”
and the lessons of history.

See also:
Petraeus’s affair was no ‘scandal’

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