Tuesday, November 13, 2012

These are our best? Really?

General Petraeus (Army) and General Allen (Marines) seem to be part of  a TV sitcom much like a reality show. A group of people seemed to have found themselves exposed by the petulance of one Paula Broadwell.

A fun read, and informing too, are these articles. The New York Times - F.B.I. Inquiry Into E-Mails Raises Questions on Motives.  The Washington Post has the Allen part - Scandal probe ensnares commander of U.S., NATO troops in Afghanistan.  And NPR provides a handy guide - Petraeus Affair Widens: Who's Who & What's What? Here's A Guide.

At first it was two - Petraeus and his biographer Broadwell. Then it spread to include Allen and Jill Kelly, a 'friend' of the Patraeuses. And it now seems to include an FBI agent (he sent a shirtless photo of himself to Kelly) that one would guess is out of his league. Don't you just wonder what is an FBI agent, apparently not far up the ladder, is doing sending photos of himself to Kelly?

So far it seems nothing more than tawdry affair, i.e., national security doesn't seem to have been compromised. But there are hints of national security issues in the stories. E.g., the New York Times relates that one of the emails that Broadwell sent to Kelly: ". . . the author of the e-mails [...] seemed to have an insider’s knowledge of the C.I.A. director’s activities. " [NY Times].

It is being described as cyber-stalking, but I am not so sure.  This started out as one woman becoming jealous of another who was perceived as being too flirtatious with'her man' Petraeus because Ms. Kelley "touch[ed] Mr. Petraeus inappropriately under a dinner table." And, not only did Broadwell send emails to Jill Kelly, but also sent at least one to General Allen.

Kelly, it can be argued, knew that Broadwell was the author. She thought that she would put fear in the heart of Broadwell by having her over friendly FBI agent investigate. Apparently he followed procedure and submitted the complaint to the appropriate agents within the FBI.

But his role became a 'whistle-blower.' He somehow became convinced that the investigation had been stalled because of President Obama. Really! He then passes information to Representative Eric Cantor's office.

Little did Kelly realize (apparently) that her complaint would lead to an examination of her emails. Accordingly, "the FBI has uncovered between 20,000 and 30,000 pages of documents — most of them e-mails — that contain “potentially inappropriate” communication between [General] Allen and Jill Kelley." [Washington Post].

General Allen's role in all of this may well be innocent, but the story has a decadent sense to it. In the rubric of 'good ole southern boy,' "Allen sometimes used words such as “sweetheart”  [in his emails] to refer to her [Kelley] . . . ." But a senior official said "that Allen, who was raised in Virginia, employed that language as a term of platonic friendship, not romantic interest." [Washington Post].

It is the context. There is some evidence that Southerners use the term "sweetheart" without any romantic intent. But usually it is Southern women using the term. E.g., it would not be uncommon for a waitress to call a customer sweetheart. But, Southern men using that term more often than not have a demeaning intent. One wonders just how the general addresses his female counterparts and officers under his command?

The Washington Post, and others, so far see no national security issues, but it rightly "calls into question the personal behavior of two of the U.S. military’s highest-ranking and most respected figures, who apparently ignored concerns about the highly sensitive nature of their positions as they embraced personal relationships with younger women who were not their wives."

Oh what a tangled web Broadwell and Kelly have weaved.

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