Petraeus is guilty of infidelity to country
Gen. David Petraeus is a highly respected and well-liked military-leader-turned-CIA-chief who allowed his home and his professional reputation to be jeopardized for the sake of an illicit sexual liaison.
Well, there are no prudes here. We realize Petraeus is neither the first person in a position of power to put his personal life and career at risk due to lust, nor will he be the last. In most cases, the damage caused by such relationships is to that individual and those closest to the person.
What makes Petraeus’s indiscretion so disturbing is that he was in a unique position as CIA chief to know — and possibly reveal to a lover or a lover-turned-blackmailer — information that could compromise the security of the United States.
In that regard, his infidelity to his wife likely had more potential for causing serious harm to the nation’s security than even President Bill Clinton’s dalliance with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
Sure enough, when the FBI gained access to personal items of Paula Broadwell — Petraeus’ paramour — it discovered classified documents on her computer, according to The Wall Street Journal.
FBI officials later determined that Broadwell hadn’t obtained the classified documents from Petraeus.
However, given the fact that Broadwell was working on another research project, with Petraeus’ assistance, related to the involvement of the Army’s 101st Airborne Division in Afghanistan, and that she allegedly displayed a vindictive streak in harassing another young woman who is a friend of Petraeus, it’s no great leap to believe she could have pushed the CIA chief for classified information on Afghanistan if their relationship had continued.
A second issue related to this affair is less critical, but disturbing, nonetheless.
How could someone who headed the largest and best intelligence agency in the world — a man with knowledge of the CIA’s extensive technological tracking capability — believe he could hide sexually explicit messages between him and Broadwell simply by creating a private Gmail account under a pseudonym and using a dropbox?
Heck, every spy-novel aficianado or crime-show viewer knows most basic email accounts can be traced.
FBI officials say there is no evidence a crime was committed by Petraeus in the affair, although it may be that Broadwell’s email harassment of the second woman, who is a State Department employee, constitutes a crime.
Still, Petraeus was right to resign Friday — and further investigation is warranted — because the much-honored retired general cavalierly put his agency’s secrets and his nation’s security at risk. He was unfaithful not only to his wife, but to his country.