The stunning fall from grace of CIA Director David Petraeus surprised me, in a day and age when nothing surprises me.
What we know about General Petraeus and his affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, is the stuff that makes titillating novels — a heavy dose of sex and drama — and now it’s playing out in real life. Some of those novels may have more truth in them than we’d like to believe.
In the wake of Petraeus’s resignation, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered the Pentagon to find out why so many top military leaders become embroiled in legal and ethical problems. Two of the military’s best-known commanders — Petraeus, the four-star general who has led much of our military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, who was allegedly engaged in yet another inappropriate relationship — are now under investigation.
And let’s not forget that it was just two years ago that Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of our troops in Afghanistan, and his colleagues gave a candid interview with a journalist from Rolling Stone magazine and used poor judgment by publicly questioning the commander in chief. McChrystal was also forced to resign.
Remember the old saying, You can’t send a child to do a man’s job? Well, in all of these cases, the men acted like children.
It’s sad when those entrusted with the leadership and security of our nation fall into the traps of their power, but it’s nothing new, and history repeats itself. Power has always been an aphrodisiac, and beautiful women, going back to the time of Julius Caesar, Mark Antony and Cleopatra, have expertly captured the attention of powerful men.
Now we have a similar “love” story, 2,000 years later.
Many powerful Washington figures have had secret affairs, but it’s unfortunate that Petraeus’s was about much more than sex. It wasn’t just his reputation that was on the line. His affair has raised questions of national security and politics.
One of the questions on everyone’s mind has to be, What was going on at the CIA when a U.S. ambassador and three others were killed in Benghazi, Libya?
The FBI had been investigating Petraeus’s affair for months, so the timing of his resignation is certainly suspicious.