November 15, 2012

A Tangled Web

Hatched by Korso

Scandals have a way of metastasizing. They start off one way, then before you know it the thing has spread in ways you would have never expected. Watergate started off as a "third-rate" burglary. The Clinton-Lewinsky impeachment drama arose from a real estate fraud investigation. And now we have the Benghazi affair, which just left-turned into a full-blown sexcapade involving a four-star general, the director of the CIA, a lovesick biographer, and a social climber from Tampa who -- for reasons still difficult to fathom -- had unfettered access to the upper echelons of military power.

For those of you who need the lay of the land (pun fully intended), here's the story so far.

  • David Petraeus, director of the CIA, resigned last Friday citing an extramarital affair.
  • The affair actually came to light several months ago when Jill Kelley, an unpaid party planner for Macdill Air Force Base, asked an FBI friend to look into some strange emails she had been receiving from an anonymous sender.
  • That sender turned out to be Paula Broadwell, a woman who had "written" a biography about Petraeus. During the course of the investigation, the FBI found out that the two had been having a sexual relationship.
  • As if that wasn't bad enough the investigation also revealed that Kelley had been exchanging "inappropriate" emails with General John Allen, commander of American forces in Afghanistan.
  • As Dark Helmet asked after a dense bit of exposition in Spaceballs, "Everybody got that?" I hope so, because the whole thing is giving me a headache.

    So how does this screwball comedy fit into the September 11 attacks in Benghazi? That's where it gets interesting. On September 15th, Petraeus gave testimony to Congress that backed up the Obama administration's assertion that the attacks were a spontaneous reaction to that anti-Mohammed video on YouTube -- a story that we now know to be false. More than that, Petraeus knew that story to be false when he gave his testimony. So why did he do it?

    Charles Krauthammer posits that the White House held the affair over the director's head so that he would toe the party line. If this is true, not only is it the dirtiest kind of politics, it also points to a coverup of massive proportions. More than that, however, it means that the Obama administration deliberately allowed Petraeus to keep his job for several months, knowing that he was a tremendous security risk.

    But that still begs an even harder question: Why reveal the Petraeus affair at all? If there was a conspiracy to shut Petraeus up about what he knew, the White House should have been perfectly content keeping the story under wraps. What then caused them to demand Petraeus' resignation last week?

    There are only two answers that make sense. One, somebody involved in this tawdry mess was getting ready to blow it open, so the secret would get out regardless. In that case, it would have been in the administration's interest to get out in front of the ensuing scandal as much as possible. The other answer? Petraeus decided he wasn't playing ball anymore. As a military man with a sterling career, having led troops into battle countless times, he understands the meaning of honor. And in spite of his failures with Paula Broadwell, one would like to think that Petraeus would eventually reach the point where he just couldn't stomach the lies anymore.

    At any rate, it'll be interesting to hear what he has to say to Congress in his testimony this week.

    Hatched by Korso on this day, November 15, 2012, at the time of 6:16 AM

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