The Peculiar Petraeus Affair

Everything about the resignation of Gen. David Petraeus as director of the Central Intelligence Agency seems darned peculiar.
It’s doubly peculiar, to begin with, that Petraeus resigned because of an extramarital affair. Odd because of Petraeus’ previously unblemished reputation for honesty, integrity, and an old-fashioned sense of morality, and odd because the rest of America collectively decreed way back in the Clinton era that sexual infidelity is just one of those things that the better sorts of people do.
The relationship was reportedly conducted with a “military affairs expert” who was “embedded” as a reporter in Afghanistan while Petraeus conducted a successful “counter-insurgency” there, so it’s also odd that we haven’t yet heard anyone make the obvious jokes about it.
That the affair apparently began so long ago makes the timing of its public disclosure rather peculiar, too. Perhaps it is a mere coincidence that the resignation came the week after the election rather than before, when it would have taken up some of the news hole that was occupied by stories about Barack Obama’s brilliant and heroic response to Hurricane Sandy, but it is strange how these coincidences always seem to redound to the president’s political benefit.
The resignation also came the week before Petraeus was scheduled to testify before Congress about the fiasco that occurred in Benghazi, Libya on Sept. 11, when four Americans including an ambassador were killed by Islamist terrorists, and at this point the peculiarity becomes particularly suspicious. Reports indicate that Petraeus’ resignation has either postponed his testimony or prevented it altogether, and that’s exceedingly strange as there is no apparent reason why his current employment status should obviate the investigators’ need for the information that he only he can provide.
Because Petraeus would almost certainly further confirm that the administration had been fully and definitively apprised that the deaths in Libya were the result of a carefully planned terror attack even as it repeatedly told the public it was caused by a spontaneous protest against an obscure video, and might well provide even more embarrassing tales, more suspicious minds have already begun devising conspiracy theories. One holds that someone with an interest in protecting the administration had been sitting on proof of the affair until it was needed to oust Petraeus from his powerful position, another that the information was being used to keep Petraeus quietly on the job until he confessed and resigned in order to free himself to tell the truth. The most benign explanation is the one being offered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which says it only became aware of the affair recently when the other woman hacked into Petraeus’ e-mail account to send threatening letters to another other woman, but it still adds another peculiarity to pile that the sort of intensive vetting that one would expect for a CIA director-level security clearance wouldn’t have discovered an affair with such an indiscreet mistress.
Perhaps the sudden addition of a sexual subplot with a comely young homewrecker will pique the public’s interest in the sordid Benghazi scandal, but it’s more likely that national media which still determine the national conversation will remain as indifferent to story as they have been to thousands of victims of Hurricane Sandy who continue to huddle hungrily in the cold and dark as they arm themselves against looters despite the brave and heroic efforts of Obama. What was known of the Benghazi debacle even before the election was damning enough — the repeated requests by the ambassador for more security which were denied, the lies about a a low-budget video and the designated scapegoat being sent to prison for the exercise of his constitutional rights, the president’s abject surrender to a longstanding Islamist demand when he declared before the United Nations that “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam” — but a slight majority of the voting public has determined that so long as the government keeps borrowing and printing the money to keep the checks coming they just don’t care.
That’s the most peculiar aspect of the whole affair, and the most depressing.

— Bud Norman