Saturday, November 10, 2012

Wars and Lechery

It appears that former GEN and current Director of the CIA David Petraeus' government career has been terminated with extreme prejudice by his dick.
"It had long been rumored that something was going on between Petraeus and Broadwell."
I don't really have a dog in this "fight". In general I am not particularly impressed by Petraeus' military vita - he seems very, well, "German" to me in that his myopic obsession with tactical minutia seems to have precluded his either garnering or providing the geopolitical/strategic advice his civilian superiors should have received to make sound strategic decisions. As CIA chief, well, we don't really know what the hell the CIA is doing, so there's that.
My only thought is that it does seem frankly shortsighted to base an individual's public employment on where and with whom he or she trades bodily fluids.

Hopefully GEN Petraeus was not using his organs of generation in his positions in the military and intelligence agencies he directed. And one would hope that he was no less discreet in his pillow talk with his lover than with his wife; neither was cleared to know what he knew, so I don't see how the one relationship compromises his effectiveness more than the other in that sense.

Obviously the way that this sort of screwing around is viewed by the media and the public (or is it - how many the public tut-tutters and finger-waggers about this have slipped out for a bit on the side, I wonder?) such a bit of extracurricular rumpy-bumpy put the man in the position to be blackmailed. But is that an issue of the act, or the way we TREAT the act?
I'm not advocating adultery, or the old rules where people like Jack Kennedy screwed the pants of anyone female that would slow down from a slow jog and the press connived to keep it secret. I guess what I'm saying is that I frankly don't give a rat's ass and I'm suggesting the rest of us shouldn't either. I'm suggesting that we treat what happened between David Petraeus and Paula Broadbent as something that should be of concern to Petraues, Broadbent, their spouses, and those who know them personally. I'm suggesting that we should reconsider the notion that when happens in the bedroom is important to what happens in the War Room. And that we might be fools to toss away otherwise intelligent and capable public officials because of their private weaknesses.

But maybe I'm just an indifferent oaf. Maybe private fooling around IS a critical indicator of public failure. Maybe we did the right thing with Petraeus and his wandering weenie.

What do you think?

Update 11/10 p.m.: Glenn Greenwald has a good observation on the broader implications of all this lovey-dovey-ness:
"...there is something deeply symbolic and revealing about this whole episode. Broadwell ended up spending substantial time with Petraeus when she, in essence, embedded with him and followed him around Afghanistan in order to write her biography. What ended up being produced was not only the type of propagandistic hagiography such arrangements typically produce, but also deeply personal affection as well.

This is access journalism and the embedding dynamic in its classic form, just a bit more vividly expressed. The very close and inter-dependent relationship between media figures and the political and military officials they cover often produces exactly these same sentiments even if they do not find the full-scale expression as they did in this case. In that regard, the relationship between the now-former CIA Director and his fawning hagiographer should be studied in journalism schools to see the results reliably produced by access journalism and the embedding process. Whatever Broadwell did for Petraeus is what US media figures are routinely doing for political and especially military officials with their "journalism".


  1. I pretty much agree Chief, but it appears at this point that Petraeus threw himself out. From the comments of administration officials it looks like they didn't want him to resign.

  2. Chief

    This obsession with chastity amongst the military is a relatively new manifestation (some 20 years or so). Just finished reading David Irving's "The War Between the Generals", where he points out how many European theater generals had romantic companions during the war. To the point were they are openly mentioned in a few general's diaries in the most routine fashion: "JP (regular female companion) and I had dinner with Ike and Kay."

    However, since modest sexcapades were elevated to impeachable offenses to nullify a presidency, what do you expect? Hell, Rummy used baseless allegations of marital infidelities to squeeze out flag officers he didn't want around.

    Were this a case of sexual harassment, sexual assault, abuse of office or general catting around, it would be a different situation.

    I'm no fan of Petraeus, and while my initial reaction was, "How far the mighty has fallen", within a few minutes, my opinion was one of wondering why something that appears, on the surface, to be a one off "romantic affair" becomes a career ending issue thrown out before a gaping public. Perhaps it is associated with Bacevich's statement that in the US, "War is a spectator sport" - we are a nation of voyeurs to boot.

  3. I'd say that having an affair, especially in an intelligence capacity makes you vulnerable to being blackmailed.

    For me, it's more trust issues and not being able to control your dick. In that past age, it was accepted but nowadays in our new uptight morale climate it's not. So your little man should behave, you're a freakin' adult, not a hormonal teen.

    If he needed to get his rocks off and got a prostitute (like a self-respecting secret service agent) I wouldn't care.

    Well, except for the potential blackmail part. But if the US wasn't so puritanical about sex that wouldn't be an issue either.

    1. The French had several PRESIDENTS with mistresses, cheating wives, and mutual cheating. The only reason this makes someone vulnerablet to being blackmailed is that people in the US, especially on the conservative side, put a greater emphasis on the performance in bed (and who it is with) than the performance in office. In a different cultural environment, "If you don't do as I say, I'll make your affair public" would have resulted in a reply of "Go ahead, make my day...tired of the whole show anyway"

    2. Ah the French, the only way it would be a scandal would be if they revealed the President didn't have a mistress.

  4. "However, since modest sexcapades were elevated to impeachable offenses to nullify a presidency, what do you expect?"

    What do you think would have happened to Kennedy if his affairs had been exposed?

    I'm not at all concerned about Petraeus' "career" since he will, in all likelihood, land on his feet nicely. Famous people with connections usually survive these things just fine.

    I suppose he could be prosecuted for adultery under the UCMJ since he presumably draws retired pay, but the chances of that happening are pretty close to zero.

  5. I might have something reasonable rational to say later. Those who have been around the pub for a while know I am not a fan. But I swear to God if I read or hear about one more media pundit talk about how Petraeus saved Iraq or was the greatest General since Eisenhower, I might lose my shit.

    Many of my former 101st buddies have been talking about this for the past 24 hours (more than a few worked directly for him), and let's just say that none of us are surprised in the slightest. We are only waiting for the others to come out.

    Vent complete.

  6. Andy: I wonder to what extent he threw himself on his sword or he was pushed, shall we say? Up to this point a high degree of ambition seems to have been one of his primary personal traits. Seems hard to believe that if the Administration had declined to accept his resignation that he'd have pushed it, but I have to admit I really don't know.

    Al: I think if there is one single change in the public morality of the U.S. it has been the breaking of the "unwritten rules" that protected us guys from the consequences of our seemingly-insatiable desire to put our totem poles in some forbidden donut hole. As Andy points out, if today's rules had been in force in 1960 Kennedy would never have been more than a senator from Massachusetts...

    Leon: while I agree that the blackmail angle is a problem, here's the thing that frustrates me about about this stuff, tho: who the hell knows what goes on with these people?

    How the hell do we know that Dave and Holly Petraeus didn't have a cozy arrangement where they ran together when it suited them and with others when it didn't? How the hell do we know that they weren't enjoying a menage a trois? And, frankly, if they were - or if they weren't - what the hell business is it of ours? If instead of getting all panty-sniffing we all agreed that other people's sexual lives were really no business of ours, then blackmail becomes a dead issue. It's our salacious nosiness that seems to me the problem, not whether or not Dave and Paula agreed to give each other a little nookie-on-the-side leeway or not...

    My comment about the Clinton-Lewinsky affair was "I didn't elect the man to date my sister; I elected him to be the Chief Executive. I don't give a rat's ass who he screws so long as he doesn't screw ME."

    bg: Well, SOMEone has to be the Man on Horseback; us Yanquis loves us some generals. But are you saying that the guy had a rep as something of a horndog whilst he was CG of the 101st? Kinda hard to believe that he was able to fly up to full bull level with that sort of can tied to his tale in these window-peeking times.

    I should really do a brief review of Tom Rick's new book about American generalship. His central thesis - that somehow the turn to professionalism and the careerist Army has ended the days of the Eisenhowers and Marshalls - seems ridiculously overstated to me. For every Ridgeway and Patton we've had a Fredendall and a Jones (commander of the ill-fated 106th Division in December 1944...).

    I have to say, though; the lack of real war does seem to have the overall effect of reducing the Darwinian pressure on general officers. While I'm not certain (since the U.S. Army has had no real chance to exercise its tactical command and control against a peer foe since 1972) I suspect that the overall level of flag officer competence is probably as low as it has been since 1939.

  7. bg-

    I think the hero worship toward Petreus is simply due to the need of a hero to worship, as the ill advised Iraq war sure was hard to feel glorious about. Two country and western songs come to mind to explain the phenomenon: "Making the Best of a Bad Situation" and "The Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time". We needed a nice poster, and he was the best to put on it.

    I'm sure there is a hell of a lot going on in the background about this, since it appears the White House was blindsided, yet the affair was allegedly being "investigated" without White House knowledge prior to Petreus' resignation.

    Just gonna have to let it shake itself out, I guess.

  8. Yeah the adultery thing is surely an irrelevance; there's some sort of spook war going on and Petraeus just took a hit.

  9. To resign as a sinner can be a cunning step after having been informed about many other things as director of the CIA. I bet my money on derived advantages as a Republican politician.

    Establishing these thight boundaries that penetrate into the innermost private lives reminds one of former FBI director Hoover. Politicians become figureheads that can be directed, because blackmailers sit upon a ticking bomb of private life with sins.
    Jesus said: "He without sin shall throw the first stone."
    Who was in a relationship and met someone else you wanted to be in bed with?

    EmBEDded journalism has a pretty good job description now.
    How do you eliminate an enemy commander? Send him a journalist he likes a lot.

    As for German military advice, they are not as loud about strategy ever since the Prussian(& other German) militaries made lots of strategic decisions in WWI. "Dolchstoßlegende" is a famous remnant of their influence that has been discredited.

    1. I, too, though resigning as a sinner would be a clever Republican gambit. The lord loves a sinner, and he can show remorse and repent and he will be better than new, once the mud's wiped off.

      The world is his oyster :)

  10. Okay, here are some thoughts:

    1. Chief, Yes, soldiers in his command did find his relationship with at least one female officer as a little more than just a mentor relationship. I don't honestly believe there was sex between any of them, but maybe he had a crush on a couple of them, I don't know. This story does add to the idea that he is susceptible to such a thing. And a crush can be a distraction and can hinder judgment.

    GEN P has always been known to mentor young officers, which is a good trait (something terribly lacking today in the Army). The biographer even mentions this in her book. From my experience, before he was the 101st CG, he took on a young female, 2LT, and she followed him to 101st and beyond. She was not well liked among her peers, as King David would often take this young LT's assessment over his more senior and seasoned intel officers. She was referred to as his "political princess" because she was put in charge, by him, of all assessment of Iraqi political matters for the 101st while in Mosul.

    When I first saw this article, I thought maybe she was the woman. But the biographer, who also happens to be a West Point MI officer, is a few years too old. According to some reports I've read this week, there were rumors about GEN P and this biographer while he was in AFG, but I can't confirm any of that.

    2. Is it hard to believe that he was able to fly up the flag pole with rumors like this? Not at all. I don't think these rumors were widespread, and stayed within inner circles of subordinates. They only seem credible now after the details of his relationship with the biographer leaked out.

    3. Al, yah, I guess someone at some point designated GEN P as the hero. Actually, I think GEN P designated himself as the hero. I remember when the shelling of Uday and Qusay's hideout had to be halted so GEN P's helicopter could land so he could be on the scene before the press got there. Or the intelligence assessments by his own ACE Chief were suppressed about Mosul, exact words, "Don't ever publish an assessment like this again in the Division INTSUM without my approval." He didn't want anyone insinuating that Mosul was anything but a model of how the post-invasion Iraq should be handled. (it wasn't, it turned into a nightmare when the 101st left, not because the lack of GEN P's charisma, but because a division was replaced by a brigade (thanks to his false but optimistic assessments), and a security vacuum drew in bad guys that were already in the area).

    4. Anon, I have a theory on that. I've seen a lot of right wing conspiracy theories that Chicago style politics dug up dirt on the honorable man who was defying the WH. I ask for evidence that Director P was defying the WH in anyway, and just got static.... It is looking like, at least right now, that GEN P was collateral damage, he got caught up in a spat between his mistress, the biographer, and another woman that may or may not have had anything to do with GEN P.

    But, if I were going to place a bet on who might have leaked any info against him, we don't need to look at the WH. Look at his own organization. I have known a lot of good CIA officers. But I have always been very careful about the knife behind their backs, it is a very "competitive" organization, in their words. As DCIA, he was not well liked. Too many VTCs. He was an outsider. I am sure he had his political enemies within Langley, and it sounds like his biographer was no stranger to his office as DCIA. Apparently, she was invited to events such as DCIA meeting with Angelina Jolie. So if the "other woman" angle doesn't pan out, there is always the internal threat.

    1. You've stated the problem: his behavior is a distraction and can hinder judgment.

  11. The more we learn about this, the more it seems the good General had no other option but to resign quickly.

    As to being a "political general", that's a necessary function from a strategic theory perspective since linking political purpose with military means/aim is what strategy is all about. Likening Petraeus to General Eisenhower is a not a slight to Eisenhower, but rather accurately reflects the changes in US politics/policy formulation since WWII in my view. Eisenhower was seen as the best man to do his particular job during those times, just as Petraeus was after the Iraqi war went sour. The significance of the "Surge" was not so much military as domestic/political, and Petraeus was the perfect front man to pull that off. Petraeus's "strengths" and obvious weaknesses reflect our current US political reality . . .

  12. seydlitz

    Ike has his shortcomings, not the least of which was an inability to a "commander" of his subordinates, most particularly Monty. However, one thing he was not guilty of was feathering his own political nest, be it military or civil politics while commanding the Allied Forces. Unlike, as bg ascribed to "King David", self-promotion was not Ike's strong suit. BTW, I have never been overly impressed with Ike's performance as SCAFE. He got the job done, and Overlord was a truly significant accomplishment, but from about D+ 45 on, I'd say no big shakes.


    The news accounts we've seen here refer to "harassing" emails send by Broadwell to an unidentified third party. If those e-mails implied Petraeus' backing or were with a rival woman, then Katie bar the door!

    For all the access she had, Kay Summersby is not known to used her relationship with Ike to advance her objectives, other then to be commissioned in the WAC in order to be able to cross the Channel with Ike, something that numerous other lady friends of senior officers were able to do.

    Speaking of senior officers' lady friends, the start of LTG Southerland's (McArthur's CofS) decline from grace was when his Australian lady friend showed up in Holandia in a WAC CPT uniform (Aussie civilians could not deploy outside the country), along with two other generals' Aussie lady friends in WAC LT uniform. Southerland had made it appear to a reluctant War Dept that the commissions were McArthur's wishes, which they weren't. McArthur had the three summarily sent home, and in his definitive biography of McA, D. Clayton James shows how Southerland was pushed more and more to a distance from his former close relationship with McA as a result of this.

  13. bg: Interesting that DP was able to conceal this affair from the good folks inside the five-sided funny farm who are supposed to vet the promotion of senior officers. Evidence of an affair - especially if, as you say, the man was known to play female favorites - is usually hard to conceal, especially in the close quarters of a military unit. Not sure if it gives me more respect for the man's subtlety or less for the abilities of the Army's internal review process.

  14. Chief,
    I'd suggest we evaluate thei thing
    Personally-screw who u want and accept the consequence,but this is hard for a warrior/political icon/king.
    All our comments so far are a hodge podge.
    IMO the military aspect is most important.
    Why are women even in war zones? OK all- i get it ,but if soldiers screw them,either mil or inbeds then this falls under UCMJ.
    Or so i thought.What's good for the commander is good for the corps, etc...
    We hammer underlings but WPPA types play fast and loose. Do we have 3 sets of standards for sexual harassment?
    Isn't screwing a female inbed a form of sex harassment?
    Isn't it taking advantage of someone lower in the scheme of things?
    Is it sex h. or a fair give and take? Did our taxes pay for his stick time?
    Now for my final cmt. ISAF had McKiernan literally relieved, then Mc Chrystal got relieved thru his loose conduct , and now DP has proven to be other than Army Strong.
    Here's my question-Can our Army not produce anything of value in the o10 ranks???
    That's more important than anyones dick.

  15. Mrs Aviator thinks the "harassing" e-mails, including the recipient, are key to understanding the whole affair (pun intended). In short, his dalliances may have been overlooked, but this "dalliee" took on the wrong person, and King David became overcome by events.

    His relationship with Broadwell (and or any other women) may very well be secondary to Broadwell's adversarial relationship with the recipient of the e-mails or the recipient's relationship with Petraeus. The wife says: 1) He is collateral damage in Broadwell's battle with a third party OR 2) Broadwell provided ammo to one of his existing "enemies" OR 3) Broadwell created a new adversary for him and armed them with the ammo of the e-mails.

    Lastly, the bride pondered, "Could those e-mails have been to his wife?"

    1. I think your wife has a handle on it, so to speak. Women do understand these petty behaviors amongst far too many of our sisters.

  16. Al-

    Eisenhower was aware of the limits of the military instrument and the difficulties of operating in an environment of escalating violence, two things pretty much absent from US military thinking today. Was he a great strategist? One of the Great Captains of history? No, but then what was needed was more of a diplomatic leader than a commander. He's faulted with not having pushed to Berlin, but I don't think the decision was actually his to make . . .

    In comparison, what does Petraeus have to show for his time in Iraq and Afghanistan? Admittedly he had to deal with political/strategic incompetence that Ike never would have contemplated . . . Thus nothing of substance, but rather images, illusions, spin . . . much the same as his political masters.

    My argument is that both are products of their times and reflect the US political leadership that advanced their respective careers . . .

    1. seydlitz says,

      Eisenhower was aware of the limits of the military instrument ..."

      Do you have some privileged info that Gen. Petraeus used the military instrument in some new and innovative ways ;)

    2. Lisa-

      From a strategic theory perspective, "the military instrument" is strategic, whereas in the case of Petraeus, we're talking strictly "tactical", although the strategic effect is obvious . . . All of them - DP, Allen, the "shirtless" FBI agent - seem to have wanted to be Newt Gingrich, but as we see that status seems to be reserved for senior Bushevik politicians . . .

    3. "All of them . . . seem to have wanted to be Newt Gingrich ..."

      Ah, yes -- a fine goal, no? These newbies do seem to be pikers.

  17. seydlitz-

    Actually, Ike did make some serious "strategic" decisions, such as opposing Churchill's obsession with opening a front in the Balkans, which Ike knew was simply a reach for hanging onto some semblance of a crumbling "Empire" by the PM.

    In the final analysis, the US model relies on the military executing the lawful orders of the civilian leadership, so and and all theater commanders are going to be an expression of politics. The difference between Ike and Petreaus is that Ike did not have several years of self promotion under his belt. He was FDR's second choice for CSA and second choice for SCAFE, but since FDR did not want to persue the war with anyone lesser than Marshall at his side in DC, Ike got Europe.

    Back to The Fall of King David. Saw news this AM that Broadwell's harassing e-mail target was a State Dept liaison to the military. The woman said the e-mails were "threatening" and "frightening", and she therefore reported them to the FBI. In the course of the investigation, Broadwell's e-mail account was peered into, and they found the evidence of the affair that way. The NYT stated that officials "said the two women seemed to be competing for Mr. Petraeus’s loyalty, if not his affection".

    Looks like it my be the bride's "Collateral Damage" theory.

  18. Political commissars

    In Afghanistan, the retinue grew as people drawn to his fame and eager to launch their own careers took up positions for him in Kabul. “He didn’t seek out these people, but he also didn’t turn them away,” said an officer who spent 40 months working for Petraeus in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Prominent members of conservative, Washington-based defense think tanks were given permanent office space at his headquarters and access to military aircraft to tour the battlefield. They provided advice to field commanders that sometimes conflicted with orders the commanders were getting from their immediate bosses.

    The beginning of the article seems at odds with bg's info.


  19. The other Other Woman:

    A senior U.S. military official identified the second woman as Jill Kelley, 37, who lives in Tampa, Fla., and serves as an unpaid social liaison to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, where the military's Central Command and Special Operations Command are located.

    Staffers for Petraeus said Kelley and her husband were regular guests at events he held at Central Command headquarters.

    In a statement Sunday evening, Kelley and her husband, Scott, said: "We and our family have been friends with Gen. Petraeus and his family for over five years. We respect his and his family's privacy and want the same for us and our three children."

    A U.S. official said the coalition countries represented at Central Command gave Kelley an appreciation certificate on which she was referred to as an "honorary ambassador" to the coalition, but she has no official status and is not employed by the U.S. government.

    The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss the case publicly, said Kelley is known to drop the "honorary" part and refer to herself as an ambassador.

    Nothing like Sex and Power to breed a Hot Bed of Political Intrigue

    But what burns my behind is the access Right Wing (S)thinkers, or for that matter (S)thinkers of any stripe, given such access to a battlefield and transportation.

    Is Amateurish T(h)inkering even legal in situations like a war zone?


  20. Think Mrs Broadwell might be another Lisa Nowak? King David might have resigned to weather this bizarre storm from the privacy of his home (if he still has one). Maybe Michael Douglas will play Petreaus and Glen Close will play Broadwell in the movie version?

    If Kelly did call herself "ambassador", then it gets even more bizarre.

    Actually, it's a pretty sad story.

    If that piece from WaPo is accurate, I can see how he might be called "King David". I do find it a bit unnerving that "Conservative think tanks" would be granted office space in his HQ. But then, just about everything else has been contracted out, so why not contract out "thinking".

  21. Stewart's full interview with Broadwell. There's irony.

    And humanity. King "Peaches"


  22. It was enjoyable to read the critical thinking and analysis on your blog about Petraeus than what is out there in mainstream media land.

    Yeah, my take is CIA didn't want him. I didn't want the military in CIA, I didn't want CIA in the presidency. And I don't want unelected bureaucracies making decisions for Congress (we, the people).

  23. I just can't get interested in this story. The more details that come out the more it sounds like a Soap Opera plot. Famous people boning each other simply doesn't interest me.

    As usual, I'm also skeptical of the various conspiracy theories.

    1. Andy, more like a bad Telenova on Telemundo.

  24. Think Petreaus is in trouble? How about this guy?

    Just couldn't resist.

    And for more laughs, this "News Article" on that site went viral as "proof" that Romney was cheated out of the election.

  25. Aviator47 - Duff has an even better post:

    Accidental Shooting

  26. jim,

    add one more to your list:

    He was really an idiot anyway. I was in 25th ID when he was the CG there, he wasn't very well respected, and AFRICOM was a joke of a command.

    1. Sorry, idiot was a strong statement. I simply wasn't impressed in any way. And seriously, he defrauded the government of $82K, and he only loses one star? How bout all of them? Just saying, isn't that a felony or something?

  27. BG,

    I know a guy who defrauded the government of $1200 - he had a roommate overseas and didn't tell the housing office, so he got a little extra BAH each month. He was demoted from e-6 to e-1, spent 45 days in confinement, and given a BCD. Different spanks for different ranks....

  28. When the laughing stops, this whole thing is kind of sad. People trying to be something they aren’t – a 60-year-old man running six-minute miles, a supposed scholar hawking her recycled Ph.D. dissertation by doing pushups on television, another old geek sending twenty or thirty thousand emails to much younger married woman, and so on. Makes one wonder why people cannot be satisfied with who they are and the responsibilities they have before them.

  29. Sorry, more laughing. It's almost as funny as Chief's "terminated with extreme prejudice by his dick."

  30. This whole mess is not only sad, but bizarre.

    What is an "unofficial social liaison", and why does a major Combatant Command HQ have one?

    Why are there "Think Tanks" in a hot theater of operations, and why would the theater commander give them office space in his HQ complex, unless they were under contract to do work for the US Government?

    Why would a theater commander allow a biographer into the hot theater of operations to work on his life story? Can just any author go over to do that, say to do a bio of a Marine LCPL?

    The three questions above pertain to King David, who is, as my bride said, collateral damage in Mrs. Broadwell's gunfight with Mrs. Kelley, but definitely in need of scrutiny as a result of the above. As she said, how he got caught in the above (no less the affair) is meaningless. That the above took place is indeed meaningful.

    Won't even go into Dr & Mrs. Kelley being in the process of defaulting on $3.7 million in mortgages, along with other debt problems and a very interesting charity in their name.

    How do things get this far out of control?

    Then there is General Allen, who is collateral damage as well. However, I would ask how a Major Combatant Commander can find time to send and receive an alleged total of 20,000 - 30,000 pages of personal e-mail with one person in two years. My wife says I spend too much time on the computer, I am retired with no professional responsibility to require my attention, and there is no way I might have generated 10% of that volume.

  31. What's fascinating to me about this (in the sick-fascinating sort of way that a gruesome highway accident is fascinating) is how this essentially silly business - a grown man and woman having and affair - has turned over a mossy rock to reveal some pretty nasty things about the U.S. circa 2012.

    The defenestration of a political leader over a private sexual matter (about which We the People actually knew and know less than nothing - why do we assume that the entire business wasn't consensual between all parties? That's certainly no less possible than that it was a conventional adulterous affair...). Some of the most successful - in the sense of providing their peoples and nations with peace and prosperity - military and political leaders were a mess in their private lives. Public weal and private morality aren't necessarily linked.

    The degree to which for all that we like to pretend that we are a "nation of laws, not a nation of men" and that our public service is based on selfless professionalism we are, in fact and in many ways, as parochial and as nepotistic as Zimbabwe.

    The appalling penetration of surveillance in the post 9/11 U.S. Glenn Greenwald has a great take on that here:

    The bottom line is that the initial investigation was done as a personal favor by a local FBI guy. After no national security threat (or even real criminal activity) was turned up, the damn thing metastasized into a ridiculous panty raid that turned up this high school canoodling. The entire business might not have even ever been blued all over the papers if one of the FBI guys hadn't gotten all Powerline and gone squealing to REP. Cantor's office because he wanted to bitchslap him some Democrat Party traitors.

    Anyway, I tend to agree with Andy; outside the amusement factor there's not much here. I've always felt that GEN Petraeus' reputation as military genius was inflated by our need for some sort of positive to emerge from the shitholes of central Asia, and the rest is just a sad tale of domestic fiddling.

    1. Of course now, intelligence documents HAVE been confiscated from Broadwell's home and her security clearance yanked (sorry, they're popping out of the subconscious ...)

  32. Chief

    Are you saying that the first three items I identified above, which have no relationship to who is diddling who, are not questionable to a reasonably serious level.

    Granted, I was only a 3rd Army puke, one level below CENTCOM, but on the various occasions I had to be at McDill, I could find no "social liaison", nor was there any evidence of the role one would play nor necessity for one. And CENTCOM was not overseeing a war for most of that period.

    I have seen no evidence of a biographer following the theater commanders around during WWI, WWII, Korea nor Viet Nam, at least none who published based on that. Why Afghanistan, and why did he allow/encourage it? Hell, even with his alleged ego, MacArthur didn't have it.

    Same question about the Think Tanks.

    In short, Little Davie's Big Johnson seems to have led to the identification some much more interesting aberrations.

  33. Al,
    or should i say-3rd Army puke.
    Remember when the Army employed career historians , usually college professor Army Reservists to come on AD to write official histories?
    Remember SLA Marshall doing this as a O-8.
    Those were the old days and those books are still classics of the genre.
    I was actually glad that DP was, or is screwing a woman since i 1st heard he was screwing a biographer.
    Initially i was afraid that he was hammering Tom Ricks.
    Best to you.
    BTW i used to be a 3rd Army puck when an O3.

  34. I'm saying that the sidebars to this little business reveal that things like "unofficial social liaisons", the think-tank baggage, and the bios are a nasty little hint that our reputation for probity and official rectitude is pretty inflated - and are more skeevy and disturbing than the panty-sniffing flibbert about whose totem pole went in whose donut hole.

    Frankly, we have absolutely no idea what the personal and sexual contract was between Dave and Holly Petraeus. For all we know Holly was all jake with Dave getting his kink on outside the homestead. The thing that seems to have everybody's buns in an uproar - that Dave (and now Al West, it seems) had a bit of fancy on the side - is a matter of huge indifference to me. Lots of leaders, including many who were quite effective in public life, have had personal and sexual lives that made Messalina look like a Carmelite.

    But it's the OTHER stuff - the obvious nepotism, the flexibility of the supposedly-inflexible systems of the Army, the FBI, and the CIA, to personal caprice, egotism, corruption, and influence - that bugs me.

    So, yes, the things you pointed out ARE problems. But not because of who put Tab A in Slot B, but because of all the clandestine running around and goofing off that enabled and was enabled by said tab inserting. In other words, the massive warrantless FBI panty-raid bugs me a LOT more than some high official using his work time to send raunchy e-mails.

  35. jim: The saddest part about Ricks is that he'd probably scream with delight at getting nailed by his heroes. Now I REALLY have to go read his book about "the generals" - I'll bet it's a long mash note to Dave Petraeus...

  36. Al - "I have seen no evidence of a biographer following the theater commanders around during WWI, WWII, Korea nor Viet Nam, at least none who published based on that. Why Afghanistan, and why did he allow/encourage it? Hell, even with his alleged ego, MacArthur didn't have it."

    Old Dugout Doug had three bios written of him during the war. Two in 42 by Considine and Hastings, one in 44 by Miller. Did they follow him around, hell I don't know but they sure had unlimited access either to him or to his closest staff. And there was another book, not a bio, written jointly by Mac and Waldrop published in 43 titled "MacArthur on War". Draw your own conclusions.

    Ike also had puff pieces written about him in 44 by Alden Hatch and by the same Miller that did the bio on Mac. Some even claim that Ike was the alleged bagman in paying off MacArthur's teenage Filipina mistress to leave Washington DC when Mac was Chief of Staff. I have never believed it myself.

    BTW, those 20- to 30,000 pages were FBI documents about the Allen/Kelley investigation and not Allen's emails to Kelley. Latest press reports retract that and say there were several hundred emails. And I understand that was while he was serving in Tampa and not in AFG. Over two years that narrows down to ten to 20 per month, still too many IMO. He and Davie should have had stronger community relations officers to keep the socialites in line. And stronger Aides acting as social secretaries, do we even have those any more? Probably not! Whatever happened to the old time hostesses with the mostess like Perle Mesta? I certainly hope Ms Kelley sponsored some fund raising events in Tampa for the benefits of the troops and not just wining and dining the Flag Officers.

    1. Perle Mesta?!? God Bless you, mike.

    2. Lisa -

      I didn't mean to focus in on Perle in particular, hers was the only name that stuck in my memory. There are many other famous socialites whose names I can't recall. I was thinking more of them and of thousands of small town ladies who served a similar function. I would not call them socialites, that term has a slight derogatory sound to it to some. But the word I am grasping for escapes my 69-year old brain (70 next week). Back in my day those ladies made it their goal to bring together diverse elements in their towns (or in their urban neighborhoods) whether it was local military and townies, professors and preachers, politicians and poets, artists and lawyers, students and industrial workers. There was a lot of synergy and cross pollination of ideas back then, unlike now when you are either for us or against us.

      BTW, after today's news on Dr Kelley's Cancer Charity escapade, I take back my above comment about hoping that Ms Kelley was also sponsoring fund raising events for MacDill.

    3. It brought back memories of my mom taking about The Hostest with the Mostest.

      Yes, that "synergy and cross-pollination" was a very nice thing, very decent and human. We seemed to understand that at core, we all want the same good things for ourselves and others.

  37. Chief-

    We are on the same sheet of music. As the bride so aptly put it, a bit of personal misconduct has opened a great big bag of professional conduct issues.

  38. As the bride so aptly put it, a bit of personal misconduct has opened a great big bag of professional conduct issues.

    Or, as in the case of a very much earlier soldier who had the same problems as our present day general, one helluva Can of Whoop Ass!

    For those who have no familiarity with Latin or the story, and I couldn't find an English version:

    They overlook that the main job of the "parasite" Artotrogus to biographize the soldier's life.

    The translation of Arto's name as "Bread Gobbler" and the fact that our modern day chronicler is female is hilarious to me.



  39. Aviator47,

    I think your analogy of Broadwell to the berserk diaper-wearing Lisa Nowak is a bulls-eye!

    And this, fellows, should be the end of a lesson (which never is): Bed a woman with such low scruples as to bed you (as a married or coupled man) and you have gained a hurricane you did not anticipate.

  40. Lisa-

    Or, as a colleague of mine advised a married subordinate considering a dalliance, shortly after the product came on the market:

    Put your winkie in her and you might as well put it in SuperGlue. You ain't never going to get it back and trying to do so is going to hurt like hell.

  41. Marcy Wheeler is pursuing this story doggedly, as she's known to do.

    Most 'winkies' and 'dimples', fortunately enough, don't involve national security, defense, and the lives of thousands.


  42. bb

    I think Ms. Marcy is overblowing things a bit at this point, as are many Administration foes.

    I have no idea of the actual timeline of the FBI investigation, but it began "simply" as a case of harassment or threats across state line. I doubt it was "fast track" in the beginning. More likely, and this is pure speculation, it was a "background noise" case pursued when more pressing matters were not in the fore. Surely there wasn't a "Task Force" set up, even if Mrs. Kelly thought herself a "diplomat".

    In fact, once the Feebs found material implicating Petraeus in an affair (hardly a crime if you are a civilian), then the FBI's task simply got more complex to see if that resulted in any security problems.

    The above may be very well separated from what was found on Mrs. Broadwell's computer. To me, first and foremost would be to determine how she got the stuff, why and what was the intended purpose. If it was just for "scholarship", and would be "sanitized", that's a far cry from someone who is leaking massive amounts of classified material to the world at large. I don't think we are in an arena akin to every Snuffy's favorite line from the old UCMJ, "Penetration, however slight, is sufficient to complete the offense."

    This thing may have been under investigation for months, but major and minor elements have only come to light recently. The only legitimate conclusions one can offer is that there was a fair deal of common sense lacking on the part of some high placed military. I still can't get my head around "a major social circuit in Tampa for the CENTCOM staff." While I'm sure it is probably exaggerated, Mrs. Kelly does appear to be a wacko, and no one seems to have noticed.

  43. Looking at how things are – military adventurism that settles nothing, a crumpling infrastructure, infant mortality on par with Poland and Slovakia, and, at the other end of the spectrum, falling longevity numbers for most U.S. counties (while Japan and Canada continue to make gains), the decline in U.S. patent applications, etc., etc. – one might postulate a common cause.

    Petraeus and his girlfriend seem like a good place to look, since they appear typical of the current elite. Both hold advanced degrees from prestigious institutions, have a history of cultivating mentors, and boast of their athletic abilities.

    Yet they failed to appreciate the porosity of emails, a subject that a little research would have made dramatically clear. Broadwell tried to hide her identity by using hotel Wifi connections for her threatening emails. The FBI merely coordinated her travel schedule with the emails. And neither of them realized that Google saves Gmail draft emails, even after they have been deleted. Details can be found at

    The Romney campaign exhibited the same sort of superficiality – counting on money as a substitute for understanding political dynamics. And, by all accounts, they believed their own hype.

    In other words, when you set out to do something complex, you had better understand the technology.

    I’ve come across this in my own work, which at present involves electronic control systems for AC generators. Most of the source material is as fragmentary and superficial as Petraeus’ understanding of email. In contrast, Michael Habib’s posts on the aerodynamics of pterosaurs ( wonderful stuff. He makes one proud to be a member of a species that tries to understand.