Ben Stein's Diary

An Embarrassment to the Nation

How did Obama and Petraeus keep their scandal secret?

By 11.12.12

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General David Petraeus is roughly one thousand times the man I am. He is braver, tougher, more self-sacrificing, smarter, more unselfish, more patriotic, far more disciplined, apparently able to keep up sexually with a woman twenty years younger than he is who is also an Ironman woman superstar. He is almost a superman. But not quite.

Now, let me get this straight: I do not think a man usually should have been fired for having sex with a woman not his wife. To me, that is just what men and women do. It is a part of life. But this is a highly unusual situation in every way.

Let's look at it from the point of view of how General Petraeus represented himself to President Obama and to the White House. When a man or woman is considered for high office, he or she is asked the following question (I know because I was considered for a modest government position several years ago and I was asked it, or a paraphrase), "Are you now doing or have you ever done anything which, if known, would cause embarrassment to the Administration, to the President, or to the nation? If you are doing so in the future, will you tell the responsible officials in the government?"

Obviously, David Petraeus lied in answer to that question. He was having an affair with a married woman while married himself. It now looks as if he might have had more than one affair going simultaneously. He did not divulge it when it happened and he did not divulge it until the FBI forced his hand.

This is a disgrace to him and to his office. It also shows he is a liar and liable to blackmail. I may be wrong here, but is it not a felony to lie to the FBI?

The whole affair came to light because Director Petraeus apparently gave his girlfriend, Paula Broadwell, access to his password for his computer, or allowed her to get it through negligence. On the computer there were classified documents. General Petraeus either did not know this had happened, which would be a disgrace, or knew about it and covered it up -- also a disgrace.

The Director of Central Intelligence is one of the most important jobs in the world. To have the incumbent handle it so carelessly is deeply disturbing. It is, sadly, of a piece with his lethal miscues in Libya. What could he possibly have been thinking? What kind of incompetence is going on here? This is terrifying.

Then there is a further issue. The second woman in this case, a State Department official, reported the threatening e-mails from Paula Broadwell months ago. The FBI apparently found out about the affair months ago, and that the security of the office of DCI had been breached. It is inconceivable that no one at the FBI told the White House or the A.G. about these serious concerns before this week. It just could not have happened that way. That is not how the world works

That means the White House and/or the A.G. knew for some time before the election that a scandal of major proportions was about to hit the CIA. The President knew before the election, in other words, and so did David Petraeus, that this furor was about to break.

How did they keep it secret? What did Attorney General Holder do to keep the lid on his FBI? What kind of possibly corrupt bargain did Mr. Obama make with Gen. Petraeus to go easy on him over Benghazi if Gen. Petraeus would keep quiet about his impending disgrace? What promises, winks, and nods were given and received?

It now looks as if the cover-up over CIA incompetence is a bigger story every day. Of course, the MSM will barely touch it because it reflects poorly on their man. But it's a depressing story of old time corruption from the administration that made the now laughable promise of "hope and change."

Now what? Thank heavens the GOP still has the House. There is a lot of investigating to be done. I am not sure we can count on Harry Reid.

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About the Author

Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes "Ben Stein's Diary" for every issue of The American Spectator.