Petraeus, Allen, and the Things That Upset Us
It might be time for us to re-think our standards for dismay a little bit.
I don’t know how closely you all have been following the Petraeus scandal, but yesterday it bagged our commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, who had apparently also been sending naughty notes to people. Specifically he was sending them to the hilarously-titled “social liason” Jill Kelly, who blew the lid off this whole thing when she reported recieving threatening letters from the lady that Petraeus was sending naughty notes to.
Did we follow all that? It’s actually relatively straightforward:
- Paula Broadwell, unrelated to her Petraeus nookie (we think!), sent “threatening” e-mails to a woman named Jill Kelly, who reported them unofficially to an FBI agent she was already familiar with.
- Said FBI agent passed the report up the chain, prompting an investigation. While looking into Broadwell’s e-mail activity, the FBI got understandably more concerned about her potential access to the CIA chief’s e-mail than they were about the maybe-harassment of Jill Kelly, and in the course of investigating that found “thousands” of naughty e-mails exchanged by Petraeus and Broadwell.
- Oh but wait, while looking through Kelly’s e-mail, they found a whole different pile of sexy missives, these between Kelly and Gen. John Allen, who currently commands the U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. So far no one has been able to confirm a four-way, eight-star orgy involving both sets of adulterers yet, but we can hope.
- And just for added weirdness, that original spook that Jill Kelly reported the harassing e-mails to? He’d also sent her naughty e-mails, including shirtless pictures of himself. Oh, and he thought the FBI was covering up the story for political reasons (remember, he’s FBI himself), so he kept “nosing around” unofficially, to the point that his superiors specifically told him to “stay the hell away” from the case. And then he reported the whole thing to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, presumably so that Congress could tell the public the TRUTH(!), which just goes to show how out of touch with reality this guy was.
Simple enough? It’s a complete and utter cock-up and it gets better every day.
But so far no one has actually committed any crimes that we know of, except potentially Paula Broadwell (the Petraeus biographer/mistress) if she really did send threatening e-mails or try to access Petraeus’s e-mail account.
I’m not going to wring my hands about the politics of distraction or ask, rhetorically, why we’re paying so much attention to this story instead of more important issues, because seriously? This is a great story. Of course we’re going to follow it.
But I do see a fair amount of talk about how it’s the discretion and the judgement that are the issue here; how this wouldn’t be a scandal except that these are men who need to be trusted with secrets every day. They have to be held to a higher standard, etc.
And I realize I’m going to sound like a bleeding-heart liberal here, but really? These guys are generals who have been in direct charge of current and ongoing wars, not to mention our various and shadowy drone programs. Getting a little nookie on the side is probably the most heart-warming moral decision either of them has made in years.
You can’t ask people to live a violent, sociopathic lifestyle on behalf of your national security and then accuse them of bad judgement. You hired them for their bad judgement. Healthy, moral adults don’t kill one another.
They do, however, sleep with one another. Sometimes with multiple partners! And that’s by and large pretty okay, though it’s certainly more polite and emotionally healthy to be honest with all your partners about the existence of all your other partners.
If Gens. Petraeus and Allen are losing any sleep at night, I would hope it’s not over their mistresses. (Though I bet they lost some sleep under their mistresses, hur hur hur.) Unfortunately, that seems to be the sin we’re going to hold against them anyway.