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The Petraeus Scandal: Updates and Commentary | The Nation

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Greg Mitchell

Greg Mitchell

Media, politics and culture.

The Petraeus Scandal: Updates and Commentary

America and its media love a sex scandal, but what happens when the figure at the center of it has been hailed as a hero (I’ve long referred to him as “St. Petraeus”) for almost a decade, his failings, beyond the flesh, mainly overlooked?

If you’ve been busy this weekend with (take your pick) family, storm relief, football or other worthy pursuits, here are a few key updates (and more, all day, go here):

• Michael Hastings at Buzzfeed (remember, he was the journo who brought down Gen. Stanley McChrystal) on “The Sins of David Petraeus.” And how he “seduced” the media. Hastings had gotten some criticism on this for tone and too-broad hits vs. other reporters. Others are linking to pieces critical of Petraeus in the past, including this one from Gareth Porter in 2010 on abuse of Iraqi prisoners that was given fresh life by WikiLeaks. 

Glenn Greenwald had weighed in earlier on media "veneration" of Petraeus--and all things military.   Even Howard Kurtz joins in--if belatedly.  Spencer Ackerman at Wired wrote an honest recounting of how he was suckered into the "cult" of Petraeus.

• The name (and pictures) of the other “other” woman—who went to the FBI after allegedly receiving threatening e-mails from Paul Broadwell—emerged: Jill Kelley, 37, of Tampa.  But despite the titillation, it’s unclear if she was actually involved with Petraeus or merely accused of that (see photo of her with Petraeus). Also, a: major media flub. AP, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times and others reported for hours that Kelley was “liasion” to the Joint Special Operations Command, surely an important job. Then changed that to “social liaison.” Now, believe it or not, via AP: She “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.”

• Both the NYT and WSJ with new stories today on the tick-tock agreeing that, after the FBI was notified by Kelley last summer it took weeks for them to put it together, not knowing that Petraeus was involved with Broadwell at all until much later (he’d set up a separate e-mail account for their communications) Unclear if they ever monitored Petraeus’s e-mail account. Broadwell ended up with some classified info but FBI seems convinced it did not come from the general.

• As one might expect, Jane Mayer at The New Yorker has terrific piece on the unanswered questions, some “political,” in the Petraeus scandal, including why Representative Eric Cantor—tipped off by an FBI “whistleblower”—didn’t go public before Election Day. But she closes with this to chew on: “A final question, at least from my standpoint, is whether Petraeus had to resign at all. It appears that Clapper, who like Petraeus is a military man, saw it as a no-brainer. Within the military, there are rules about adultery. But within civilian life, should there be? The line of the day on the morning talk shows in Washington, seemed to be that Petraeus did the ‘honorable’ thing, or, ‘he had to resign.’ The old saw that if he wasn’t squeaky clean, he could be subject to blackmail by his enemies, thus endangering national security, was mentioned again and again.

“To me, the whole Victorian shame game seems seriously outdated. Something like half the marriages in the country now end in divorce, and you can bet a great many of those involved extra-marital affairs. Is it desirable to bar such a large number of public servants from top jobs? It certainly seems fair to question Petraeus’s judgement, ethics, moral fiber, etc. in this matter, but if infidelity wasn’t treated as career-threatening, its value to black-mailers would be much reduced (the fear of a spouse is another matter). In this instance, evidently, there were no crimes. So why again did this blow up as it has? Fans of thrillers, like me, are waiting for more answers.”

• See photo of Broadwell with Karl Rove here and video I found where she flacks for a major machine gun company and even fires off a few rounds herself.

•  A related major uproar emerged last night. I was first to post the video below three days ago. I confess I had not watched most of it. Even if I had I would not have caught what Blake Hounshell at Foreign Policy Sunday night focused on as possibly quite explosive: That Paula Broadwell in this talk revealed some classified info on the Libya consulate attack (involving US holding two prisoners which kicked off the whole tragedy—allegedly). “Now, I don’t know if a lot of you heard this, but the CIA annex had actually, um, had taken a couple of Libyan militia members prisoner and they think that the attack on the consulate was an effort to try to get these prisoners back. So that’s still being vetted.”

The CIA now denies. More here.

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