A Further Perspective

The Puzzle of Petraeus

So much here is not adding up.

By 11.13.12

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It doesn't make sense, like the failure to reinforce Benghazi for 9/11 and like a number of other scandals connected with this administration. The pieces of the jigsaw don't fit together.

First, the letter. General Petraeus's letter of resignation stated in part:

Yesterday afternoon, I went to the White House and asked the President to be allowed, for personal reasons, to resign from my position as D/CIA. After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair. Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours. This afternoon, the President graciously accepted my resignation.

I am more familiar with British than American military traditions and codes of conduct, but I imagine they are highly similar. And one of the most binding codes I know is that, in a sexual scandal, come what may, an officer and a gentleman does not mention a woman's name or reveal information which allows the woman's identity to be guessed.

General Petraeus seems something like the Platonic ideal of an officer and a gentleman, and yet the identity of the woman involved very quickly became public knowledge. Why did he have to mention it? Yet, typically of this murky affair, we are not yet sure who did first mention it.

General Petraeus has embarrassed and humiliated:

a) Himself;
b) His wife and family;
c) The woman in the affair;
d) His corps;
e) His service;
f) His country.

He has also, in a sense, given aid and comfort to the enemy, not merely the Taliban or whoever the CIA is fighting against, but all the enemies of America who will rejoice in its humiliation and in what may be, to them, further proof of its decadence. This is not so much because he has had an affair -- many men have -- but because he has shown himself apparently unable to handle the consequences sensibly. As a criminal lawyer, I have learnt to be surprised at no human behavior, but everything about Petraeus that we know suggests that this behavior is grotesquely out of character.

There is the whole odd question of why, if his unbending sense of honor made him confess to the affair, did he embark on it in the first place, and, instead of queerly resigning, confess in such a way as to do his family and the others involved the greatest possible damage?

There has never been stronger stench of conspiracy and cover-up. "Watergate" and "impeachment" suddenly hang heavy in the air.

Among the things that don't make sense is that Petraeus's disgrace, and the hurt caused to others – including the United States of America - was unnecessary. Petraeus's letter of resignation could have stated: "I … asked the President to be allowed, for personal reasons, to resign from my position" --and left it at that. Let others make of it what they would. There are all manner of possible reasons why a man might choose to resign from such an onerous task, and one, moreover, for which he was not trained.

Furthermore, why did Petraeus choose to confess and end his career now, rather than either sooner or later? Was he being blackmailed? Obviously the huge question that dominates the political horizon is: was he politically knifed in the hope it would silence him on Benghazi? But he can still -- and must -- be compelled to testify.

Then again, while there may be security reasons to prohibit people with access to top secrets from having affairs, people with real power -- and Petraeus was one of the most powerful man in the country -- are not as a rule penalized for it. Eisenhower reputedly had an affair with his driver when he was Commanding General in Europe in World War II. JFK's affairs were notorious. McArthur had a mistress. Indeed, I can recall no previous cases of anyone at the top of American political or military life being brought down by having an affair, at least in modern times.

Bill Clinton, of course, survived a series of sex scandals as president, culminating in a direct, public lie to the American people, captured forever on television. All the excuses were trotted out for him by the Democrat-aligned media that will not be made for Petraeus. Teddy Kennedy was ruined politically by Chappaquiddick, but that was because it proved him to be a coward as well as a liar. Going back in history a little, Nelson, Wellington and Napoleon were not, of course, American, but their names remind one that great military leaders throughout history have been human. It is said, though I am not sure whether or not this is fiction, that Caesar's legions had a song:

Home we bring your bald whore-monger,
Romans, lock your wives away…

Historically, cover-ups have a way of becoming worse politically than the original scandal. Suddenly, this scandal may be too big for even the mainstream media's Obama lackeys to ignore.

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About the Author
Hal G.P. Colebatch's "Immram," Counterstrike, is being published by Australian publisher Imaginites.