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More Than Meets the Eye in L'Affaire Petraeus

Jay's picture

A few things. First is that there appears to have been a great deal of classified information bandied about between the people involved and possibly others. The threshold for dissemination of classified information to unauthorized parties is absolutely zero tolerance, but especially so for the head of the CIA. In Obama's press conference yesterday, he stated that no classified information had been divulged that would threaten the security of the United States. What that means is that *classified information was leaked.* (!!!) Whether it was potentially harmful is subject to interpretation, but given a policy of zero tolerance, ultimately immaterial. The head of the CIA cannot conduct himself like some deep background Pentagon press officer who floods beltway Pentagon correspondents like Jim Miklaszewski and Barbara Starr with self-serving classified information like a fire fighter opening a fire hydrant monitor. That is the intelligence community's first, last, and most important rule!

Secondly, by engaging in an affair, Petraeus compromised himself in many dangerous ways. You cannot cannot cannot have a CIA head with presidential political ambitions vulnerable to blackmail. The three recruitment techniques of any intelligence agency's source cultivation program are: 1) greed/money, 2) ideologues "fighting for a cause," or 3) vulnerability to scandal, including those of a sexual nature (the "honey pot.") Petraeus and his mistress conducted their communications over an unencrypted, insecure gmail account where MI6, Russia's FSB, Israel's Shin Bet and Mossad, and everyone and their dog and a hacker could tune in for their daily hilarious installment of David Petraeus's most intimate thoughts. That's f*cking intelligence gold! Provided by the head of the CIA for the benefit of anyone who wants to know and has the (modest) technological means to acquire it! How unbelievably stupid could you get? I'll bet the overarching FBI surveillance state was last to the party, while the FSB was posting the newest revelations on their bulletin board next to the f*cking water cooler! For years!

Thirdly, Petraeus posed a political threat both as a provocateur and as a 2016 GOP presidential candidate. Just ask John Edwards what happens when you have the potential to flay Obama from a public policy perspective. No Teddy Kennedy 1980 primary challenges for me, thank you very much! Doubtless the administration wants to eliminate nonconformist Bush-era fifth columnists from the Pentagon, or cow them sufficiently so they toe the line. Which leads me to my last point.

This isn't over. We don't even know the half of it. We don't know which actors are doing what or for what purposes. We may never know. This is cutthroat royal court Village politics with all the subterfuges and double crosses that may imply. Petraeus, the 2016 GOP presidential nominee, was a compromised, incautious operator with enough social skills to gull the credulous Village press corps to hail him as a genius. Now he will never be president and his coterie of Pentagon flunkies are imperiled, while his apologists in the press are sputtering with befuddlement. It will take months for the choicest of a thousand cuts to come out, and they won't appear in the mainstream media. I wouldn't get too far out adjudicating what little we really know thus far.

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Jay's picture
Submitted by Jay on

Some things just get better with time. Petraeus gives an interview to a fawning "journalist" who introduced him at

various military-themed events -- that have given some in the media pause in the wake of his affair.

Unsurprisingly, Petraeus denies having divulged any classified information at all. Nothing to see here folks!

Meanwhile it would appear that Eric Cantor may have been playing in the Intelligence Community sandbox after shirtless FBI man dropped the dime. Who were the beneficiaries of leaked classified information? The Rupert Murdoch-run WSJ says it wasn't Patricia Broadwell--she was just regurgitating previously-reported news. Uh huh. Where did this news first appear?

At Rupert Murdoch-run Fox News of course. Did Eric Cantor, David Petraeus, General Allen, or people in their staffs leak classified information to Fox News so that political operatives could cite news reports, instead of the radioactive classified information they couldn't play with, to make a last-ditch effort on behalf of the Romney campaign? Perhaps like Dick Cheney citing Judith Miller articles in the New York Times?

It would be irresponsible not to speculate.

reslez's picture
Submitted by reslez on

We don't even know the half of it. We don't know which actors are doing what or for what purposes. We may never know.

Generally speaking: If we don't know, they don't know either. There is no secret knowledge. Everything gets out. Even the KGB know this. Yes it's cutthroat politics but enough ends up in the paper to draw the right conclusions 99% of the time. All you have to do is pay attention. Claims to secret knowledge are bogus, if you didn't already know that you could have learned it from Bush II's Iraq hype.

Submitted by lambert on

It's a fun story, though. That's why it's a good distraction. But from what or rather which? That is my question....

Submitted by Lex on

It does not appear that they actually sent emails. There was an anonymous gmail account to which they both had the password. They would read each other's unsent drafts. That's actually a fairly common method for spies/terrorists to communicate, though surveillance has caught up to some degree and those electrons are obviously retrievable. But chances are other nations did not know unless they were digging pretty deep ... which would indicate that they already knew about the affair. (That both were too stupid to even install Tor does speak volumes thought.)

On the blackmail, yes. But just having an affair is not necessarily enough to blackmail someone. For example, the CIA no longer cares if personnel are gay (they expect to know) because "outing" an out of the closet gay person doesn't change anything.

That being said, it may not be a setup, but it's likely taking opportunities presented and running with them. The Kelly lady with ties to Petraeus and Allen that got the investigation started is also friends with Dem Senators. It's kind of weird that the emails would have started an FBI investigation, but friends in the bureau and Kelly sounds like a kook so who knows.

What should be more disturbing is that the FBI expanded the digital surveillance and digging far beyond finding out who sent the threatening emails, which was probably easy since Broadwell didn't hide who sent them at all. To find Petraeus, they either connected the dots from Broadwell being well known or they went so far as to look at everything Broadwell did online and then dug into everyone she interacted with online via IPs and such. The B/P email account is not the one the threatening emails came from.

As for the classified documents, it's incredibly stupid but also expected in a country where everything gets classified and everyone who's anyone has some kind of clearance. There won't be punishment for that because at most Petraeus is a political enemy, not one of the machine.