More Than Meets the Eye in L'Affaire Petraeus
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.