Collateral Damage

Refer to this if you need a reminder of the characters.

Unless some new information arises, it seems that General Allen, at least, is just collateral damage in the Petraeus situation. Clearly he exercised bad judgment in his relationship with Jill Kelley, but associating with a loon is not a national security concern. I still can’t quite get my hands around his decision to intervene in her sister’s custody dispute, but whatever. None of that should derail the guy’s career.

Broadwell has already paid a huge price in terms of her reputation. My suspicion is that she’ll face additional problems over mishandling classified info, unless those stories are inaccurate. But at this point, I, at least, wish everyone would just leave her alone.

Shirtless FBI guy needs to be investigated.

Kelley is, um, a piece of work. But she’s a private citizen. It’d be nice if she were left alone as well.

Which leaves a few things:

(1) Petraeus himself. As I’ve said many times, forget about the sex, and focus on his abuses of power and position. That is the real story here. A man so wrapped up in his own myth that he continually transgresses norms. Even if he were the savior of Iraq (and he wasn’t), his refusal to play by the rules is the problem. It is also worth shedding some light on his defenders, and in particular asking why they remain so gung ho to excuse his conduct at every turn. And the reason is clear, a tangled web of conflicts of interest.

(2) The FBI investigation. It looks to me like the investigation was legit, although unduly aggressive. There are questions about leaks. But the real story is, I think, just how vulnerable we all are to this sort of snooping. As a practical matter, I think that it is more productive to look at this issue in terms of the privacy rights of the millions without high-level clearances rather than the thousands with such clearances who ought to be under higher scrutiny. But look, I’ve talked about this before. We need to develop a robust “use” regime to counter-balance the technology-driven collection regime we all live under.

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