There is a delicious irony to the story of the crash-and-burn career of Four-Star General and later (at least briefly) CIA Director David Petraeus.
The man who was elevated to the ethereal ranks of a General Eisenhower or Robert E. Lee by swooning corporate myth makers like the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Trudy Rubin, the Washington Post’s David Iglesias, and the NY Times’ Michael Gordon, was never really that brilliant. It wasn’t his “surge” after all that quieted things down (temporarily) in Iraq; rather it was a deal to pay off the insurgents with cash to stand down until the US could gracefully pull out without the departing troops having to be shoot their way down to Kuwait in full retreat. As for his allegedly “brilliant” counterinsurgency policy of “winning hearts and minds,” we have already seen how well that has worked in Iraq, which is now basically a client state of Iran, and the writing is already on the wall in Afghanistan, where the US is almost universally loathed, with US forces spending most of their time looking out for Afghan soldiers who might turn their guns on their supposed ally and “mentor” American troops.
For a real measure of Gen. Petraeus, go to Admiral William Fallon — that rare military leader who had the guts to tell President Bush and Cheney he would not allow an attack on Iran “on his watch,” thereby quite possibly saving us all from being at war with Iran years ago. Fallon, who at the time in 2007 was head of Centcom, the military command region covering the entire Middle East, once reportedly called, Petraeus, who was being put in charge of the Iraq theater, an “ass-kissing little chicken-shit” — to his face.
Anyhow, what makes the epic collapse of this consummate political general’s career so exquisite is that it was the post-9-11 spying capabilities of the FBI that allowed its agents to slip unannounced into the email of the General’s paramour, Paula Broadwell (a name that could have been selected by Ian Fleming!), and possibly into the general’s own email too, there to find the evidence, allegedly in the form of X-rated letters, of a covert adulterous relationship underway.
We now know that the FBI was alerted to this breach of decorum (if the illicit romance began while Petraeus was on active duty in Afghanistan, he could be prosecuted under the same rules that have led to the prosecution of many lower ranking offers: bringing ill-repute upon the military) and lack of judgement on the part of the head of the nation’s spooks, by a second woman, Jill Kelley, who was a volunteer military liaison and family friend of the Petraeus clan. Kelley’s closeness to Petraeus allegedly caused the jealous Broadwell to allegedly send threatening or harassing emails to her imagined rival, reportedly including one that told her to “stay away from my guy!”
It seems likely Kelley, in asking the FBI to put a halt to the threatening emails, would have been quick to point out that Broadwell was having an affair with Petraeus. In any event, once the FBI successfully got the telecom company she was using to allow them into Broadwell’s email, that would have been clear, and it would have been easy work to move on to the general’s own cache of love letters (in which he may have been referred to by Broadwell by what she told The Daily Show’s John Stewart was his childhood nickname: “Peaches”).
The CIA chief was thus done in by the Patriot Act and other assorted violations of the First and Fourth Amendments, all backed by Gen. Petraeus and his political promoters in Congress and the White House, as well as in the corporate media.
Of course, while we can enjoy this payback, and speculate on how it must be giving the shivers to many a philandering White House staffer and member of Congress, it should also be a warning to us all that the FBI, the CIA, and the myriad other intelligence agencies littering the US landscape, these days have virtually limitless ability to monitor our every email message, tweet and phone call.
Maybe we should invite the now humbled Petreaeus to become the poster child for a renewed battle to restore the Bill of Rights.
Meanwhile, as entertaining as this salacious scandal may be, and as satisfying as it is to see the great and powerful brought down by the very National Security State that they promoted and helped to create, there remains the terrible truth that even as the corporate media gets all worked up about the “moral decay” evidenced among the nation’s top military brass, no mention is made of the much greater moral rot that the whole military represents, with its ongoing imperial slaughter in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and elsewhere. Even when it comes to sex, the much bigger issue for the military is the epidemic of rape that has female military personnel afraid to exit their barracks to use the latrine at night except in groups for fear of being raped by their fellow male troops, and also being at the mercy of officers who assault them, usually without any fear of prosecution.