The Petraeus plot thickens, could the news have affected the election? Journalists and military make poor bedfellows

And the plot thickens:

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UPDATE: (Late Monday west coast time) I’d have to be a full-time blogger to keep up with this story. But now another general is said to be involved in the ongoing Petraeus scandal. See link to ABC: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/general-investigated-emails-petraeus-friend-17704386

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Did Gen. David H. Petraeus have a second woman on the side who the first woman on the side got jealous of? We now learn that the FBI got involved in the Petraeus matter after a woman reported getting threatening emails from the first woman. Was there a ménage a trois?

So far I have not read exactly what the connection between the general and the second woman was, except that she has said in a news story that her and her family (her and her husband) have been friends with Petraeus for five years. She worked as an unpaid military liaison between the State Department and the military. And now it has just occured to me that the second woman may have been a threat not by her affections but maybe in a role as a gatekeeper between Petraeus and his paramour. I think I heard that speculation already. Who knows? But isn’t gossip fun?

(And I don’t know really which woman was first or second, if all this is the case. And poor Mrs. Petraeus)

Well here is some info about the second woman, identified as Jill Kelley: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/11/11/jill-kelley-5-facts-about-the-petraeus-affair-s-mystery-woman.html

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And now this just in from The Daily Beast: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/11/12/exclusive-paula-broadwell-s-emails-revealed.html

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I usually think Sen. Diane Feinstein is a sharp woman but I was puzzled when she initially said that she thought Petraeus did not need to resign. Now she is quoted as saying that he should have (and he did) and that she is concerned that the FBI or whoever did not inform important lawmakers such as herself about the Petraeus investigation much earlier.

One can argue whether having a love affair or sex on the side affects someone’s job performance (think Bill Clinton), but this is not just someone, this was a man who was in charge of the USA’s intelligence operations. And here he is trading emails (and emails are not secure) with a woman who seems to have been able to elicit a whole lot of information out of him, not only for the biography she wrote (with assistance from another writer) but some sources indicate she has publicly relayed inside info on CIA operations (not really sure about that).

And this threatening email things is bizarre to say the least. Kind of reminds me of the woman astronaut who drove cross country wearing a diaper so she would not have to stop while going after a competitor for the affections of a male astronaut.

Also, heard an interesting comment on the radio last night but I forgot who said it, except the guy supposedly has inside info on how the CIA works. He said that the director if the CIA is more of a figure head because the long time career people run things and have secret operations all over the place that he (the director) does not even know about. Maybe that is just conspiracy talk, kind of like the book I have that claims rogue CIA agents killed JFK (I suppose it is possible since no one really knows how that all went down).

It has also been brought out that the president supposedly did not learn of all this until the day after the election (or was  it the day of? well something like that). One wonders what effect the news could have had on the election. I suppose not much, but??

I mean the speculation on the Benghazi, Libya incident (our ambassador and staffers being killed) somehow being connected with all this is interesting or maybe I should say disturbing. It is speculated that Petraeus’ affair might have thrown off his concentration. The CIA seems to have let the ambassador down security wise. And Broadwell also seems to possess, or claims to, inside knowledge about the Libya operations.

And now apparently Petraeus will not be testifying at congressional hearings on the Benghazi incident this week, although he might be called later. Also it is reported that the Army could prosecute Petraeus for having an affair if it was going on before he retired from the Army. Apparently it is against army regulations (gee, I wonder how often that regulation is broken). That seems quaint. Not that I am against morality. But then again people in high places are supposed to have impeccable standards and set an example (I think they often let us down).

In a kind of related matter, I have also read that when Petraeus was still running the Afghanistan military operation that he would not give the president a “peace option” and that is one reason the president went for the so-called surge. It is said that administration insiders are glad to see Petraeus go. They had been afraid that he might run for president on the Republican ticket and they also felt he stood in the way of getting the U.S. military out of the Middle East.

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The following is my initial and just previous post on all of this, posted on 11-10-12:

Some time ago I heard an interview on the radio with the woman who co-wrote a book about the now just-resigned CIA director and her praise was so glowing it seemed obvious that she had fallen head over heels with the guy, except, I admit, I did not take the next step and conclude any hanky panky was going on. The thought did cross my mind, though. And, you know? Things are often just what they seem.

I want to make some remarks about the resignation of CIA director Gen. David H. Petraeus and then I have a comment on the subject of embedding reporters with the troops.

Just like reporters were “embedded” with the troops in the Iraqi War and in Afghanistan, writer Paula Broadwell was “embedded” with Gen. David Petraeus while working on his biography. She co-authored a book with Vernon Loeb called “All In: The Education of Gen. David Petraeus”.

Well actually in her case she was literally in bed with him, or, actually I don’t know the timing of it all, whether it was during or after, but she reportedly had an affair with him — and they are both married to other people — and Petraeus, who had led the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and then had become CIA director, has turned in his resignation over the matter. It seems that the FBI, inadvertently it has been reported, came across evidence of the affair while investigating unauthorized access to the CIA director’s emails. The FBI was trying to determine whether classified information had been illegally accessed.

And come to think of it, that biography title wording about the educadtion of Gen. Petraeus was certainly apt. His education (albeit too late) was not to sleep with the enemy, that is keeping in mind that military types often consider writers or the press to be the enemy.

Was Broadwell an enemy agent? No evidence of that yet. She is an officer in the Army Reserve and a West Point graduate (Petraeus is a West Pointer as well).

I began this post last night but now some news stories indicate Petraeus himself might have been under investigation by the FBI. Not sure on that  really.

But there are questions as to whether his concentration on Libya where our ambassador and staffers were killed might have been disrupted by his affair. Also he was supposed to testify in an upcoming hearing on the Libya debacle and it is now unclear on the schedule on that.

Ironically, Petraeus had often told junior officers that a mark of leadership is doing the right thing when no one is looking.

Since Petraeus knew that the cat was going to be let out of the bag, he went ahead and resigned and admitted to an indiscretion, while not naming the other party — but the media has apparently uncovered the name of the other participant in the affair.

I just read a Washington Post story that said the Obama administration made him CIA director rather than chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, as the general would have preferred, because they wanted to thwart his move to maybe run for president as a Republican (wait a minute, that did not stop George Bush no. 1 — daddy Bush).

Can’t help but get some shadenfrueda out of this (and I’ll bet many in the military feel the same way). Maybe it is just that I don’t care for big-time military officers, well except for the heroes in the movies, and maybe the real heroes of old — we just don’t have many these days — mostly ticket punchers.

But it seems Gen. Petraeus has been a self-promoter for decades (well I mean in the sense of his own personal marketing — the Army promoted him) and did not have a wide circle of friends among other officers but did know whose boots to polish (hey this is just from a story I read).

And now it seems it has all gone down the drain. He probably won’t run for president. And it is an inglorious end to a career.

Then again, randy Bill Clinton came back to help re-elect a president (and by the way I think President Obama can thank Bill Clinton for his campaigning on his behalf and maybe just as much David Corn and Mother Jones Magazine for the uncovering of the Romney 47 percent remarks for his win), but of course this is probably not really the same kind of thing — Petraeus does not have as long of a public record and does not have as much to come back from in public life, except he was destined for bigger things.

Actually, it would seem that society would be more tolerant of high officials having their affairs these days, what with the more and more liberal approach to sexual matters and morals, but then again, once we know, we don’t want to be seen as approving, and it is bad judgment for the leader of the nation’s intelligence gathering mechanism to compromise himself. Now he can’t be blackmailed since he has admitted to the affair — but his judgment was poor, as he said himself in his resignation announcement.

And this leads me to wonder how accurate that biography of Petraeus is, with co-author Broadwell compromised herself.

And while I made a kind of joke about this “embedded” thing, I thought at the time that the idea of having journalists being embedded as part of the team might do something to compromise their effectiveness as journalists. To produce useful journalism, as opposed to flak that is nothing more than fluff and entertainment with no or little news value, one has to be a neutral observer. I think the military and war lovers felt the institution of war was damaged by Vietnam coverage, so they came up with the idea of instead of fighting the press, making them part of the team and be under their eyes where they could be controlled.

Have you noticed that we have not had much real journalism come out of our wars in the Middle East?

I’m not meaning constant reports that say we are losing or doing the wrong thing. That is what your average war hawk thinks of when he or she thinks of objective journalism, or the kind I mean. I’m talking about observing and reporting what is happening and let the chips fall where they may. Not easy for anyone to do.

Part of the problem is that those who manage the dollars in the news business have not seen war coverage as a profit center. And public apathy — we just want to have fun and buy our gadgets and get cheap oil, as possible, don’t bother us — is part of the problem too.

I was once a journalist. I was not a war correspondent. I began by working for a small town newspaper (and that is pretty much the way I ended too — not the same one). But at first I did photography and I did features, some of which were fluff, well actually I did agricultural reporting, but I did stories about farmers and those related to agriculture and most of it was how great everyone is what they are doing for the public (and I am not trying to be sarcastic). But I really wanted to cover government and I did go on to do that.

One day my old friend from the farm beat a farm adviser cornered me (and he was a big man) and shook his finger at me and said in a tone meant to appear as being light, but scolding at the same time, that I was sure writing bad things about his friend a county supervisor (called commissioner in some areas of the country). I think he was concerned that his office (that of the farm adviser) might not get the funding it needed. That man he said I criticized was a supporter of his office. In reality I just reported things said at meetings, and comments out of the meetings. Once when there was a meeting closed to the public I did listen at the door and heard that supervisor say my name and something to the effect that I was a “pest”, as in “that Tony Walther is a pest”.

Funny. That is what my sister used to call me (I being her little brother).

With all that I was just trying to make the point that journalism is not supposed to be about rooting for a team or making friends.

If you were making a decision to buy something would you just want to know the positive and none of the negative and in between?

 

P.s.

Sometimes in some contexts or situations, fluff is good and so is rooting for the team. You have to have a mix.

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