Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Petraeus Scandal

Never ceases to amaze me how stupid powerful men can be. I just can't ignore the coverage of the truly bizarre, oddly compelling Petraeus Affair. Such a perfect case of the truth being stranger than fiction.

Even though this is all arguably about lawful sex between two consenting adults, I'm convinced Petraeus still should have been automatically disqualified as head of the CIA - not for his failure to keep it in his pants though - but for lacking the basic common sense to avoid conducting his affair over Gmail. Holy hell. I get that old guys might not be particularly tech savvy, but come on! Blackmail could have happened. State secrets could have fallen into the wrong hands (insert plot of most recent Bond film here. And since we're on the topic of Bond, I'd like to award Tweet of the Year to @feMOMhist for this one: "Daniel Craig's face looks like a hide.  If a female star had that skin she'd be peeled & lasered until her face looked like a newborn's ass").

As for the "real" Petraeus scandal? I absolutely loved Glenn Greenwald's piece in The Guardian: "FBI's abuse of the surveillance state is the real scandal needing investigation":
So all based on a handful of rather unremarkable emails sent to a woman fortunate enough to have a friend at the FBI, the FBI traced all of [Petraeus paramour Paula] Broadwell's physical locations, learned of all the accounts she uses, ended up reading all of her emails, investigated the identity of her anonymous lover (who turned out to be Petraeus), and then possibly read his emails as well. They dug around in all of this without any evidence of any real crime - at most, they had a case of "cyber-harassment" more benign than what regularly appears in my email inbox and that of countless of other people - and, in large part, without the need for any warrant from a court... 
But, as unwarranted and invasive as this all is, there is some sweet justice in having the stars of America's national security state destroyed by the very surveillance system which they implemented and over which they preside. As Trevor Timm of the Electronic Frontier Foundation put it this morning: "Who knew the key to stopping the Surveillance State was to just wait until it got so big that it ate itself?"
Exactly. Though the most recent brouhaha this week suggests that Broadwell's emails were overtly threatening of Kelley's life... who (besides that jokey, shirtless FBI agent) really knows anyway?

Two other aspects of this scandal are pushing some buttons for me.

First, seeing pictures of Mrs. Holly Petraeus just breaks my heart a little bit. Maybe it's her vulnerability as an older, cheated upon, career-less wife that I'm feeling. I just hate how folks are taking this opportunity to critique her appearance, which, to my eyes, frankly, she appears dignified, refreshingly surgically un-altered, and perfectly age-appropriate. I find the obvious victim-blaming and ageism damn depressing. Nice reminder that women are too often valued only for their sexual attractiveness to men.

Secondly, it disturbed me to see this creepy picture of Ms. Broadwell, presumably taken by the paparazzi from outside, clearly showing her inside the private home of her brother. The obvious invasion of privacy is totally jarring.

Your thoughts?


Anonymous said...

I can't get the Daily Show's "Rock me Dave Petraeus" song out of my head.

Lisa @ Trapped In North Jersey said...

I too feel bad for Holly Petraeus, but refreshingly she is actually not career-less. She is actually kind of a big-wig herself, she heads the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's service members arm. She has long been involved with charities and government agencies that serve the military. So she has the financial security to dump her idiot husband if she wants to.

hush said...

@nicoleandmaggie - It's infectious!

@Lisa - Good point, and I agree she's a big wig now, but OTOH making $179k a year seems small potatoes for someone that high profile and accomplished (sorry if that sounds crass). Semantics maybe, but I don't necessarily consider a temporary job held for less than 2 years as part of a gov't agency appointment to be synonymous with a career. I also realize she worked and volunteered for approximately 6 years prior to her appointment in the field of consumer protection.

When I referred to her as "career-less" I was thinking in terms of the loss and opportunity costs of "moving 24 times in 37 years" and of the 30 years she spent "enduring long separations from her husband during his repeated deployments overseas" and "being Mrs. Dad, too." So it seems to me it's possible to have a high profile job but at the same time to be career-less. That said, I think her prospects for having a career going forward are bright, especially if she loses the douchebag she married.

Vacationland Mom said...

Hi hush, thank you for the comment :) I keep wanting to post a comment on your blog but run out of time (no internet at home at the moment). My reaction is two-fold- 1. I don't know most of what's going on with this "scandal", and 2. when I saw something about it on the news I immediately said out loud to the hub: "Is there a crime here?" So my humble opinion is what a huge waste of time and money, and also a huge privacy violation. But I see your point, maybe it will help these surveillance state see that people's private lives are called just that for a reason, and if it happened between consenting adults then it's none-ya. Kinda (sorta) reminds me of the Clinton-Lewinsky "scandal."

Got It, Ma! said...

From a privacy standpoint, I'm totally with you that this a perfect example surveillance run amok. There is something troubling and dangerous about people in positions of power opening themselves up to blackmail, but you're right, there's no real crime here.

On the other hand there is a (admittedly judgy) part of me that looks at yet another instance of a powerful man with lousy judgment being politically, professionally and personally undone because he couldn't keep it in his pants, and I think, "and they used to put chastity belts on women??!!??" Somebody needs to invent a locking zipper for these idiots."

Read an interesting piece back during the whole Weiner wiener debacle about how our political system, being as cut throat as it is, actually selects for people who cannot judge risk accurately. After all, if you could, would you really run for office? So unless things change, we're going to continue to fill our most important jobs with people who think they could actually get away with tweeting a picture of their johnson. Not a very bright future.

Cloud said...

IMO, the reason Petraeus had to resign is that he broke the rules of security clearance, and that is sort of an untenable position for the director of the CIA. I don't care of previous directors were able to get away with that- they should not have been. Secret affairs are security risks. Full stop.

But now that he's resigned, I will not care about this story until and unless the investigators find he actually disclosed something he should not have.

I do feel bad for Holly Petraeus and the people saying mean things about her looks are horrible. I hope she rises above this and has a second (or third?) act in her life that is just awesome.