The affair between David Petraeus and a married Tampa socialite was more than just embarrassing it exposed the media’s adoration of a very flawed man, the media’s cover up of his failures and the bigger scandal, the US surveillance state. Three critics of Petraeus weigh in:
The scandal that brought down CIA director David Petraeus has spread to the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen. The Pentagon says the FBI has uncovered thousands of “potentially inappropriate” emails between Allen and Jill Kelley, the woman who complained of harassment from Petraeus’ biographer and lover, Paula Broadwell. Kelley’s complaint to the FBI led to the discovery of Broadwell and Petraeus’ relationship, prompting Petraeus’ resignation on Friday. We’re joined by Guardian columnist and blogger Glenn Greenwald
Transcript can be read here
The reverence for the former CIA Director is part of a wider religious-like worship of the national security state.
A prime rule of US political culture is that nothing rivets, animates or delights the political media like a sex scandal. From Bill Clinton, Gary Hart, and Eliot Spitzer to John Edwards, Larry Craig and David Vitter, their titillation and joy is palpable as they revel in every last arousing detail. This giddy package is delivered draped in a sanctimonious wrapping: their excitement at reporting on these scandals is matched only by their self-righteous condemnations of the moral failings of the responsible person.
All of these behaviors have long been constant, inevitable features of every political sex scandal – until yesterday. Now, none of these sentiments is permitted because the newest salacious scandal features at its center Gen. David Petraeus, who resigned yesterday as CIA Director, citing an extramarital affair.
That the stars of America’s national security establishment are being devoured by out-of-control surveillance is a form of sweet justice
The Petraeus scandal is receiving intense media scrutiny obviously due to its salacious aspects, leaving one, as always, to fantasize about what a stellar press corps we would have if they devoted a tiny fraction of this energy to dissecting non-sex political scandals (this unintentionally amusing New York Times headline from this morning – “Concern Grows Over Top Military Officers’ Ethics” – illustrates that point: with all the crimes committed by the US military over the last decade and long before, it’s only adultery that causes “concern” over their “ethics”). Nonetheless, several of the emerging revelations are genuinely valuable, particularly those involving the conduct of the FBI and the reach of the US surveillance state. [..]
That is the first disturbing fact: it appears that the FBI not only devoted substantial resources, but also engaged in highly invasive surveillance, for no reason other than to do a personal favor for a friend of one of its agents, to find out who was very mildly harassing her by email. The emails Kelley received were, as the Daily Beast reports, quite banal and clearly not an event that warranted an FBI investigation: [..]
Based on what is known, what is most disturbing about the whole Petraeus scandal is not the sexual activities that it revealed, but the wildly out-of-control government surveillance powers which enabled these revelations. What requires investigation here is not Petraeus and Allen and their various sexual partners but the FBI and the whole sprawling, unaccountable surveillance system that has been built.
The transcript can be read here
The Sins Of General David Petraeus
by Michael Hastings
Petraeus seduced America. We should never have trusted him.
The fraud that General David Petraeus perpetrated on America started many years before the general seduced Paula Broadwell, a lower-ranking officer 20 years his junior, after meeting her on a campus visit to Harvard.
More so than any other leading military figure, Petraeus’ entire philosophy has been based on hiding the truth, on deception, on building a false image. “Perception” is key, he wrote in his 1987 Princeton dissertation: “What policymakers believe to have taken place in any particular case is what matters – more than what actually occurred.”
Yes, it’s not what actually happens that matters – it’s what you can convince the public it thinks happened.
David Petraeus’ affair is all anybody in Washington can talk about, which might be why the country is in financial ruin.
“I think the news has jumped the shark” and that’s the “word.”