The Broadwell Affair

I am completely obsessed with the stories about General Petraeus and Paula Broadwell. Every minute a new juicy detail comes out. 

The angles that interest me at the moment:

  • It's clear that the FBI knew about this mess in the summer, but held back on the news until the day after the election. Who made that decision to sit on the news? Attention is closing in on the FBI right now. 
  • I'm fascinated by the idea that someone at the top level of the FBI got a report placed on his desk and had to single handedly make an enormous decision. Should he tell the president? At the late stages of the election, it would certainly have been a major distraction. Republicans are currently fantacizing how this news could have shifted election results. 
  • It's really weird that an unpublished author gets access to a General and also gets a mid six-figure advance for the book. 
  • I'm still laughing at Jon Stewart's quip regarding Broadwell's book. "The real controversy here is, 'Is he awesome or incredibly awesome?'" Stewart said.
  • Did he make his life worse by resigning? Did he really need to resign?
  • Did Broadwell really send crazy e-mails to another woman using Petraeus e-mail account? 
  • Forgive me for being an ass, but I do have to wonder how her husband could be a "Mr. Mom" when he was a radiologist. Certainly she had a full staff of helpers, who enabled her to have the time to run marathons and jet off to Afghanistan. Why didn't she thank them in the acknowledgments to the book? 
  • Hanna Rosin talks about the dual portrayal of Broadwell in the media – soccer mom and slutty witch. 

UPDATE:

 

9 thoughts on “The Broadwell Affair

  1. Also, how did Petraeus’s problems play into the Benghazi debacle? Did it mean that he had a weaker voice within the administration during the decision-making process?

  2. My fascination is with the journalism of it all, as per this post, which references Spencer Ackerman’s. I know I’m a broken record, but I saw this happening in entertainment journalism over the last decade or so. People who are supposed to be reporting the truth get sucked into cults of celebrity.
    I’ve been watching way too much Homeland for me to trust anything related to the CIA. I could easily believe any conspiracy theory related to Petraeus, and each crazy theory has just about equal likelihood of being true. Right now I lean slightly to this theory.
    It is interesting that the FBI knew about it, but so did Eric Cantor, apparently.
    Btw, Obama’s strength as a president may lie in one area in particular: fidelity. It seems like if you can keep it in your pants, your power is unlimited.

  3. He had to resign. This is not the same as some Congressional back-bencher. Given his office, he had put himself in a potentially compromised position for months. Not good for the top spook. Maybe he thought he was Bond…which he wasn’t…

  4. I think he did have to resign, because he’s a CIA chief. If he were, say, a senator, like Vitter, he wouldn’t have had to resign. But, a secret affair (especially with someone who is behaving unpredictably) definitely compromises him, and his ability to do his job.
    I’d like to know the timeline, too. But, I think the real problem they had with this info, is that in the process of investigating something that could have been a crime (harassing emails sent to the woman at the state department), they uncovered embarrassing (and explosive) information that would attract a lot of attention. Since he’s a CIA director, I think they needed to take the information up the chain of command within their organization (i.e. federal government). But, what if the person had been, say, undersecretary of HUD, or even secretary of HUD). It’s hard to say exactly what is relevant, and digital information increases the probability that information will be found dramatically.

  5. And there’s also the speculation that her husband wrote to Klosterman’s Ethicist column on July 13th. I remember reading that one and thinking that it was obvious to SOMEONE who knows the back story.
    He did have to resign because of the blackmail potential. And the distraction. I’d prefer my spooks to have their focus on the job rather than self-manufactured drama in their real lives. Stuff happens to all of us but in a position like head of the CIA, I expect someone to have even MORE judgement than the average bear.

  6. “Stuff happens to all of us but in a position like head of the CIA, I expect someone to have even MORE judgement than the average bear.”
    It’s possible, though, that 90% of men with that kind of power and that kind of opportunity will transgress (yes, I’m making up the number completely out of the air). If so, are we really willing to restrict all significant positions of power (or just the CIA head) to the 10% of men (or, alternatively, women)?
    Anyone noting that the incoming chairman of Lockheed has also just resigned over a sex scandal (this time with an affair with an underling).
    I do tend to believe that women are less likely to transgress, but I’m thinking, potentialy, that the story could be that women are more likely to transgress when they’re the underling/admirer with opportunity (videographer making a documentary, biographer, reporter covering someone with power, as well as the traditional positions of intern, secretary, graduate student, and un-defined underling) and men transgress when they are in power, being feted and admired.
    If so maybe the solution is that all the bosses have to be women, and the men the underlings.
    But, also, I think that if this is human behavior, and all that’s changed is that we now have the power to uncover it, we might just have to learn to accept it (not, say if we’re their wives, but if we’re looking for people to lead our nation).

  7. The NYT is saying Dr. Broadwell is NOT the letter writer, and I’m inclined to believe them. He could easily have time to “be Mr. Mom” – these days it’s possible for a radiologist to work remotely, depending on the practice: some review films all day long, type up their findings, and don’t interact with anyone.
    Did Petraeus really need to resign? Yes – there’s no question about it. It was conduct unbecoming an officer, for starters. The blackmail potential (as @Sandra mentioned upthread) put lives and national security at risk. The appallingly poor judgment renders him completely unfit for command.

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