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The Petraeus Sideshow

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DID PETRAEUS BETRAY US?  AND ARE WE BETTER OFF WITHOUT HIM? 

 

The David Petraeus clown car extravaganza that's entertaining the country these days serves the useful purpose of distracting people from taking a hard look at the nature of the national security state we've become.  Comically hoist by his own petard, former General Petraeus is arguably just another of our war criminals who will never be held to account. 

Some say the FBI never should have been looking at his email in the first place.  Glenn Greenwald articulated this argument clearly as clearly as anyone on DemocracyNOW, where he complained that: 

"the FBI, based on really no evidence of any actual crime, engaged in this massive surveillance effort of, first, obtaining all kinds of intimate and private information about two women, one of whom complained, one of whom was the target of the complaint, Paula Broadwell and Jill Kelley; learned the locations and email accounts of Paula Broadwell, who was the subject of this fairly innocuous complaint; read through all of her emails; learned the identity of her anonymous lover, David Petraeus; likely read--certainly read through all of her emails, probably read through his; and then, in the process, as well, learned about an affair between the complainant, Jill Kelley--or not an affair, but inappropriate communications, as they're calling it, and the four-star general in Afghanistan, General Allen; and then obtained 20,000 to 30,000 pages of emails between them, as well.

This mangles the seminal moment in this sequence of event, which was when Jill Kelley complained to her FBI friend.  At that moment, apparently, all that was known was that there were harassing, anonymous emails to Kelley, referencing the Director of the CIA, whom she knew, and referencing information about the CIA director that was supposedly confidential.  At that seminal moment, the sketchy evidence was that someone had breached CIA security, and maybe it was trivial or even a false impression, but no professional FBI agent could responsibly let that go. 

   When the CIA Director Seems Compromised" 

As we know now, the FBI agent didn't responsibly follow it up, either, and all sorts of other people behaved ridiculously as well, but the core possibility of a threat to the CIA had to be pursued, and it was.  What apparently distracted Greenwald from this clear and compelling genesis of the investigation is his over-riding concern with the abuses of the American surveillance state.  But that is a different issue, as well as a more important one. 

Another blurring factor in the unfolding farce is the lingering image of Saint Petraeus that Paula Broadwell among others buffed so well: 

When I realized the opportunity I had to tell this message, to present this portrait of strategic leadership--you know, it's not--it's not a hagiography; I'm not in love with David Petraeus. But I think he does present a terrific role model for young people, for executives, for men and women. No matter what, there's a great role model there who is--who is values-oriented, who speaks the truth to power

Too many people have given Petraeus credit for resigning, calling it an act of honor.  How is it honorable?  He didn't resign the day after he started the affair.  He didn't resign on any of the days during the affair.  He didn't resign after the FBI questioned him about the affair.  He didn't resign until he had a gun to his head in effect -- when his boss, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told him the game was over. 

Then he resigned with a wan gesture that looks less like honor than a vain last attempt at damage control

Clapper was part of that deceptive effort, as was President Obama at his news conference November 14.  Here's how Clapper's formal statement tried to perpetuate the "cult of David Petraeus" when it said:  

Dave's decision to step down represents the loss of one of our nation's most respected public servants. From his long, illustrious Army career to his leadership at the helm of CIA, Dave has redefined what it means to serve and sacrifice for one's country".  I can honestly say that Dave Petraeus stands out as one of our nation's great patriots.

   Best of Petraeus Record -- His Press Clippings

Michael Hastings, a reporter for Buzzfeed and Rolling Stone, has a darker, less fawning view of Petraeus.  Appearing on CNN, Hastings criticized Petraeus' fellow generals and others for:

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Vermonter living in Woodstock: elected to five terms (served 20 years) as side judge (sitting in Superior, Family, and Small Claims Courts); public radio producer, "The Panther Program" -- nationally distributed, three albums (at CD Baby), some (more...)
 

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The Petraeus affair is another example of the mora... by Charles-Eva Manning on Thursday, Nov 15, 2012 at 10:16:06 AM
I don't think you can blame "conservatives" f... by William Boardman on Thursday, Nov 15, 2012 at 5:04:01 PM
Where is the evidence that there was a threat t... by Jerry Scott on Thursday, Nov 15, 2012 at 11:50:11 AM
Greenwald (among others) seems to be saying (... by William Boardman on Thursday, Nov 15, 2012 at 4:44:12 PM
I smell 2 important issues in this "affair".One is... by Micheal Gilfillan on Thursday, Nov 15, 2012 at 2:43:30 PM
Petraeus has been getting media star treatment&nbs... by William Boardman on Thursday, Nov 15, 2012 at 4:55:26 PM
The whole Petraeus Affair is significant only as a... by Gentry L Rowsey on Friday, Nov 16, 2012 at 11:12:27 AM
Could be that's all there is to it.  But sinc... by William Boardman on Friday, Nov 16, 2012 at 12:54:05 PM
One of the main ways that state secrets get leaked... by Shankari Kali on Friday, Nov 16, 2012 at 12:41:05 PM
Anything is possible, more or less, but the i... by William Boardman on Friday, Nov 16, 2012 at 12:59:19 PM