Monday, November 12, 2012

Are the private lives of public servants our business?


In the wake of Four-Star General Petraeus' resignation and confession of adultery, I've been watching various stories unfold. There is, of course, the conspiracy theory that this is all a cover up to keep "what really happened in Benghazi" under wraps. There is the concern about the timing of the announcement. Who knew what, when and why weren't others told. 

None of that interests me, other folks can work through that. For those not in the know, CIA Director and lauded career serviceman David Petraeus resigned last week after admitting an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. The affair was discovered after Broadwell allegedly sent threatening emails to a friend of the Petraeus family. (WDDDA?)

In this instance, with the General being head of the CIA and some various stories about email security being compromised, I guess we (the public) needed to know about this affair. I guess. If national security isn't being compromised why couldn't they just say that he was stepping down for personal reasons and keep it pushing? Makes me think there is so much more to this story than we are hearing. What did Broadwell have access to (that she should not have) and what was so damning that Petraeus needed to step down immediately, post haste, the same week of the election?

Petraeus is not elected, he's appointed. I find it difficult to believe that a man in service to this nation for over two decades, the MacArthur of our times would be out there swapping secrets for cocoa. My other question is, how much do we really need (or want) to know about our public officials? 

Does infidelity automatically make a public servant ineligible for continued service? I'm inclined to say that we have a higher set of expectation for those that are in the most sensitive and critical positions in government. I'm inclined to say that if you are running the Central INTELLIGENCE Agency, it's not too much to expect you to show some. Then again, I'm also inclined to say - I don't want to know what goes on behind closed doors. Especially if it has no impact on national security.

Unlike many others, I'm not finger pointing at the General or Ms. Broadwell. They did what they did and the current shitstorm they find themselves in is judgment enough, especially coming from many who sit in their own glass houses. But I have to admit, this one hurt my feelings a little bit. I liked Petraeus. He came across as a "for God and Country" Army Ranger who was about business regardless of politics. Married to the same woman (Holly, daughter of a general) for almost 40 years. If a guy like that can fall...

What say you, Bougieland? Do we really need to know?

34 comments:

James Barnes said...

personally, i feel it's a thin line & distinction between 'public\private' servant. if you hold public office, the American taxpayers are your Boss. National security can be compromised by sexual dalliances and infidelity. don't believe me, just ask those fired Secret Service agents getting it on with those Columbian mami's, and our former CIC Bill Clinton.

i do agree with you about the timing. something is fishy with this. just 3 days before the Senate hearings on Benghazi. Petraeus said he was going to tell the truth that the decision to not send military support to the Libyan Embassy was denied at the highest levels, the White House.

a few days later he gets canned before he can testify before the Senate. it's coming out that the FBI knew of the affair for years. I think he got thrown under the bus by HWSNBN (He Who Shall Not Be Named) but hey, that's JMO.

DCbywayofCali said...

I do think there is more to this than we know, but also Petreaus is a military man and in the military yes, adultery can get you court martialed for conduct unbecoming. The rationale goes if you can't govern your personal unit then you cannot govern a military unit.

OneChele said...

Here was a comment from James Barnes that DISQUS ate -
personally, i feel it's a thin line & distinction between 'public\private' servant. if you hold public office, the American taxpayers are your Boss. National security can be compromised by sexual dalliances and infidelity. don't believe me, just ask those fired Secret Service agents getting it on with those Columbian mami's, and our former CIC Bill Clinton. i do agree with you about the timing. something is fishy with this. just 3 days before the Senate hearings on Benghazi. Petraeus said he was going to tell the truth that the decision to not send military support to the Libyan Embassy was denied at the highest levels, the White House. a few days later he gets canned before he can testify before the Senate. it's coming out that the FBI knew of the affair for years. I think he got thrown under the bus by HWSNBN (He Who Shall Not Be Named) but hey, that's JMO.

chele said...

My first thought was, "A guy cheats on his wife and he has to resign?" There's definitely more to the story but I'm not sure that we need to know it.

thinklikeRiley said...

If you are head of the CIA and you can't keep your side piece on lock? You shouldn't be running the CIA.
*drops mic*

C Nelson said...

We don't need to know who they're sleeping with, as a rule. But if they're dumb enough to have it become public in such a damaging way ... I think stepping down is the right decision. Forcing him out would not be the right thing, mind ... or, at least, forcing out a non-military official, who isn't subject to military discipline ... but I think better of any public official, some of my respect is recouped, if they move to minimise the damage and publicity by taking themselves quietly out of the post.

Page Bartlett said...

personally, I don't want to know. Unless he was sleeping with a Taliban spy, I don't care.

CaliGirlED said...

Once again Riley sums it up and breaks it down in the simplest form!

SingLikeSassy said...

I think ish got crazy in this situation because of her accessing his personal email. If this dizzy thirsty chick could  do it, so could terrorists.

Grace said...

I think we should hold those in a position with this much senstivity to a higher standard. The amount of information he has access to, you'd hate to think of what happened if it fell into the wrong hands. Who knows what her motivation is. In all of this, I feel bad for the wife. I hear she's livid.

OneChele said...

Another comment DISQUS ate today - ARGGH!
My first thought was, "A guy cheats on his wife and he has to resign?" There's definitely more to the story but I'm not sure that we need to know it.

Bailey said...

I don't think an affair should automatically disqualify you from public service. But definitely how it's handled (ie the cover up) should be taken into account. And once a person is willing to be dishonest on one thing, isn't it just a slippery slope?

Leo the Yardie Chick said...

Personally, I don't believe his losing his job has much to do with his affair. As I said elsewhere, Clinton was caught heauxing it up in the White House, and he still hung on to his job. Call me cynical, but this whole thing reads like a smokescreen to me. "Pay attention to the hoenanigans over here, and not the big ol' phuque up behind the curtain!" <- that's how I feel about this. 

Mo said...

I'm side-eyeing this whole situation, timing of events and all. I like Petraeus and it hurt my feelings too, but like I read on TPM, as a military man  they have a strict  code  against extra-marital affairs. 
NYT reported that FBI  knew about this issue for about 2 months, I'm shocked they did  not inform law makers in appropriate committees.

GrownAzzMan said...

First of all, The Today Show had Newt Freaking Gingrich on as the commentator on this subject. This Morning. Let that marinate for a minute. You bring a serial cheater on to talk about a cheating scandal? Really?

As for what we need to know about public official's private business, I say we don't 99% of the time. This may be the 1%. Adultery is actually a violation of the military code and folks have gone to jail for it. Davey P (what they call him at the club) is service retired but in a very sensitive position. Hence the FBI investigation. They were not going to reveal what they found but HE decided to put it out there.

What is more fun to me is watching the powerful and highly educated act just like Pookie and Chiniqua. Side piece #1 sent and email to a woman she suspected was side piece #2. WTH??? Basically she when through his phone and the rest is history...

Another side note. He has some honor. Yes I said it. Otherwise he coulda sent some boys dressed in all black and Paula would have been sleeping with the fishes...

nylse said...

We don't need to know, but we can all learn from it.  What's  not happening in her home that she became so enamored of the general?  Couldn't she have just competed in one more triathlon to get it out of her system?  I guess not.

blackprofessor said...

This made me chuckle!

CaliGirlED said...

HA!!! Don GAM has spoken!

blackprofessor said...

I agree and disagree with Riley. You can't run the CIA and your personal life is chaotic. 

However, most men (and women) need to quit thinking they will ever be able to control a side chick (or dude).  When you start having relations, the cocoa is stirring and emotions are high, you don't know what another person will do.  The fact that you think you can "manage" another person shows you are already losing.

Retha L Quince-McCormick said...

We needed to know because someone could have black mailed him with the information. Good that he outed himself.

Retha L Quince-McCormick said...

We needed to know because he could have been blackmailed with the information. Good that he outed himself.

OneChele said...

*nods and starts slow clap*
Good points, good points. 

ClayJones said...

So bump all these regular reality shows. I want to see The Real Sidepieces of DC - now that's a show I can get into.

GrownAzzMan said...

Let's look at another angle of this. The focus has been on him and what he did. Understandable because he is the bigger name and, after all, a man. What about her. She is not some random groupie. She is a successful, married mother of two. 

Sistas of the the Bougieland Knitting Circle, why did SHE do it?

rozb said...

As someone who saw this kind of behavior up close and personal in the military, even powerful women succumb to hero worship. The man she initially admired became somebody she was attracted to, and decided to enter into a consensual sexual relationship with him. She was consistently around him while he was running things, witnessed folks fawning all over him, and began to believe the hype she wrote about. She fed his ego meter and in turn, he gave her a taste of power by being allowed access most folks outside the inner circle do not have.

I can almost 100% guarantee this is not his first time handling sidepieces - just this one caught a little crazy and did dumb crap. He chose to have a relationship with a woman who used her access to glean bits and pieces of info to bolster her credibility in the journalism and book-writing world, got caught up in her feelings, and exposed all kinds of crap.

Point blank, GAM, she was trying to mark her territory and let emotions make her commit a foolish and childish error, revealing far more than she thought. We would not be talking about this AT ALL had the other other woman not sicced the FBI on her ratched ass for sending threatening emails. (I wonder what was so threatening about the emails?)

vroshell said...

The fact that she was working as his unofficial spokeswoman at times, and she made comments on camera about the Libyan attacks, lets us know there is way more to this story. (This would be a good story line on Scandal)

OneChele said...

Sir...

GrownAzzMan said...

"Personally, I don't see the leap from "wayward married penis" to "classified info may have been compromised." I wouldn't be surprised if the reasons for this were completely political."

^^This all day.

blackprofessor said...

Rozb nailed it!

I would add that she cheated for the same reasons that other people cheat - boredom, lack of satisfaction, intimacy issues, etc.  Her marital status and career success have nothing to do with whether she would cheat or not. 

Brenda Kay said...

There have been lingering rumors on a number of military related blogs about General Petraeus and his biographer, Paula Broadwell swapping more than written text for quite a while now. Frankly, I'm surprised that it took this long for the mainstream media to break and verify the story. 
As Petraeus was the Director of the CIA, he was well aware that every aspect of his life both professional and private was never off-limits. As it is, there are already reports of Broadwell supposedly having access to sensitive documents that she would not have been privy to if it weren't for her relationship with the General.  

I wish I could ignore the irony and hypocrisy of the fact that General Petraeus is known to be a conservative Republican. And it's for that reason alone, that I don't expect for the Republicans to demand all sorts of investigations and inquiries in the matter. 

GuessImJay said...

Everything's a conspiracy in today's plotical climate. It can't just be that two people who worked together crossed a line and eventually outed themselves before the press could. Sure, emailing your side boo from the job is a bad look but you can count on folks to try to make this a whole lot more than it was.

Guest said...

I also wondered what his infidelity had to do with his job until someone explained to me the compromising position he put himself and the nation's security in. The one prominent example was blackmail and no matter if the blackmail had conditions set on obtaining CIA info or not the fact that the opportunity was there for the situation to occur was enough to make him step down. I guess there are a ton of regulations for things like these, I don't remember everything I was told verbatim, but it made a lot more sense afterward. It's kind of like your private life and actions now affect the country instead of just you and your family. As to why the public had to know, I kind of get that too. Us civilians tend to complain when their government doesn't tell them even the smallest reason for some of their internal actions so if I were someone who was interested I would want to know why the head of our CIA had to step down instead of it being left to my own imagination

CorettaJG said...

We need to know about character failings of important national leaders with security clearances who can be blackmailed. It happens.  


Plus, the urge for self-preservation when your life is falling apart around you will make you do some of the darndest things (as my military criminal career has taught me).  There never is someone who I can't put foolishness past because I've seen too many "good" people take that fall.  And there by the grace of God go I...As a military officer I'm doubly hurt by Petraeus public failings. Candidly, he really was never a proper "Army" guy.  Too liberal. Too warm and fuzzy (winning hearts and minds and all). Too comfortable with Washington and reporters (ahem). But I do agree that he is the General for our times and I am very, very disappointed.It's all fair game - the spin by news networks could be less sensational, but it's all fair game, especially when you are the CIA Director.

Penni Brown said...

If you are the CEO of a regular company, I don't care about your personal life. If you are privy to Top Secret and For Your Eyes Only state secrets, then your personal life matters. In that situation, any of your personal and financial secrets -  in the wrong hands - could mean a national breach of security. The problem is that being in such a powerful position also makes some people think that they can get away with anything. 

He should've just called Olivia Pope to handle it. Now that I think about it, whoever doesn't want him in his position anymore, probably DID call a fixer to orchestrate this whole story's exposure. The cheating is probably the red herring, I wonder what he REALLY did and who wanted him out. 

#scandal #intrigues-are-us

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