Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Clueless and Shirtless in Scandal-land

Petraeus revelations keep making a bad tale worse as Paula Broadwell’s ghost and Jill Kelley’s pet FBI agent trot onstage. If this be prurience, reader be patient, there is a larger point.

Woman No. 1’s gush book was remarkable for its access to the CIA director, says her writing partner, a Washington Post editor who had no idea of how far it went.

“I always wondered,” he now writes, “how Petraeus justified his relationship with her to his command staff in Afghanistan. Surely, eyebrows were raised...Female colleagues of mine weren’t shy in remarking about Broadwell’s good looks and her affinity for flashy, cocktail party attire even at staid national security conferences.”

Still, Vernon Loeb insists he was clueless about you-know-what.

Even more intriguing is news about Woman No. 2’s growing dossier as a military groupie, which now includes thousands of pages of “inappropriate communication” with Gen. John Allen, US commanding general in Afghanistan.

As the story of Jill Kelley unwinds, the volunteer social planner for troops seems to have been giving more than party advice in Florida. The New York Times discloses she set off Petraeus' downfall by complaining about Broadwell’s e-mails to a local FBI agent “who had previously pursued a friendship with Ms. Kelley and had earlier sent her shirtless photographs of himself.”

That all this salacious stuff has a serious theme is underscored by news that the Armed Forces are training future generals and admirals with such literature as “The Bathsheba Syndrome: The Ethical Failure of Successful Leaders,” recounting the moral lapse of the Old Testament’s King David, who ordered a soldier on a mission of certain death in order to take his wife, Bathsheba.

The FBI may want to consider the same kind of training for horny agents who can set off the downfall of an important American leader in order to make time with one of the local Bathshebas.

Petraeus was certainly guilty of what he calls “extremely bad judgment,” but he was far from alone.

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