Virtually every journalist in D.C. is feasting on the sex scandal. Howard Kurtz on the irresistible lure of tawdry affairs.
There’s no escaping Petraeus madness.
Former Commander of International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan Gen. David Petraeus speaks during an armed forces ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, Va., Aug. 31, 2011. (Susan Walsh/ AP Photo)
Pick up the paper, turn on the tube, crack open the laptop, stop at any Starbucks, and the chatter is all about Dave and Paula and John and Jill.
The news that Petraeus’s paramour is hiding out here in the nation’s capital, at her brother’s house, prompted this breaking-news tweet from Politico’s Byron Tau: “After an hour in the cold, I can report that Paula Broadwell eats food and wears sweaters.” But it did produce a through-the-window photo that replaced the sleeveless-blouse pictures of Broadwell from her Daily Show appearance plugging her Petraeus-walks-on-water book.
Forget the fiscal cliff. Inside the Beltway, at least, we are all climbing Petraeus Mountain. There is no other topic. Every reporter, columnist, commentator, and blogger is finding an angle. Every conversation circles back to a scandalous tidbit: Jill Kelley and Gen. John Allen exchanged 30,000 emails! (Um, when did he have time to run the war in Afghanistan?) Broadwell called Kelley a “seductress” in those harassing e-mails that led Kelley to complain to the FBI. And what’s with that agent sending shirtless photos? Some of the details turned out to be overhyped—OK, maybe there weren’t 30,000 emails—but why let the details get in the way of a good wallow?
Even Barack Obama’s first postelection news conference began with the obsession du jour: So, prez, what do you think of the Petraeus affair?
The commander of U.S. Special Operations Command called Petraeus “an American hero,” reports Eli Lake.
Charlie Rose talks with Adm. McRaven.
The man who commanded and devised the raid that killed Osama bin Laden said David Petraeus—who resigned Friday as director of the CIA after acknowledging an extramarital affair—was “the finest general” he had ever served under.
Speaking at The Hero Summit, presented by Newsweek & The Daily Beast, Admiral William McRaven, the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, called Petraeus an “American hero” who made thousands of decisions that saved lives as a commander of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. He added: “I obviously don’t condone what he did because Holly Petraeus is also an American hero.”
McRaven’s remarks were one of the first public comments from an elite U.S. military leader on the biggest scandal to hit the CIA under the Obama administration. His comments suggest Petraeus will maintain influence within the military—where he spent his career before retiring as a four-star general to become director of the CIA.
Navy Adm. William McRaven, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, testifies during the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on "The U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command in review of the Defense Authorization Request for FY2013 and the Future Years Defense Program" on Tuesday, March 6, 2012. (Bill Clark / Getty Images)
Inside the military, adultery is a serious charge. It can lead to demotion and other penalties. Colleagues of Petraeus say his affair with Paula Broadwell, a former military intelligence officer and the former general’s biographer, began after he began his job at the agency.
Gen. David Petraeus’s affair was busted by a shared Gmail account. From encrypting emails to instant messaging off the record and never sharing passwords, The Daily Beast’s guide to keeping your correspondence under wraps.
The news that Gen. David Petraeus had been engaging in a romantic affair with his biographer was shocking. But the revelation that a sloppy email chain led to the exposure of the former CIA director’s infidelity is particularly hard to swallow. After all, if the man in charge of U.S. intelligence can’t protect his personal emails, who can? While the scandal reinforces the message that nothing is private on the Internet, The Daily Beast consulted some experts on the best ways to shield emails from prying eyes.
Jed Share / Getty Images
Step one: pick the perfect password. Yes, this advice may sound like it comes straight from the first page of Using the Internet for Dummies, but it’s a tried and true rule that, when broken, gets a lot of people into trouble. Just take a few extra minutes to come up with some combination of capital and lower-case letters and numbers that’s easy enough to remember but tricky enough that anyone with some slight knowledge of your life won’t be able to guess. (Addresses, birthdates, pets' names, and the like should be avoided.)
Oh, and don’t share your password with anyone else. I know, roll your eyes if you must, but this is not obvious to everyone. Joseph Mahaffee, chief information security officer at Booz Allen Hamilton, marvels at how often people, the young in particular, share Internet passwords as a symbol of having reached a certain stage of closeness in their relationships. Mahaffee advises quashing such romantic notions, as someone you trust now may turn out to be a future foe. And there’s nothing worse than an angry ex with access to your personal emails. Just ask Gen. Petraeus.
If you have enough foresight to realize that you’d sooner die than have your emails read by anyone, you can go a step beyond creating a super secret password and make sure your emails and other correspondence are encrypted. Encryption algorithms are basically like locks on a website that block your online activities from anyone who might be snooping on an unprotected network, like when you use wifi at an airport or forget to set a password on your Internet router at home. Systems like Google, eBay, PayPal, and most banks go ahead and do this for you to ensure that you can use their services safely.
Sent shirtless photos years ago as a ‘joke.’
The New York Times claims to have uncovered the identity of the FBI agent who started the investigation eventually resulting in Gen. David Petraeus’s resignation. Fredrick W. Humphries allegedly looked into a complaint from his friend and Tampa socialite Jill Kelley—who had received unnerving emails regarding her relationship with Petraeus. Colleagues say Humphries is “a solid agent with experience in counterterrorism, conservative political views, and a reputation for aggressiveness.” Lawrence Berger, general counsel for the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, denies the now rampant rumor that Humphries sent Kelley shirtless photos, saying “it was sent as part of a larger context of what I would call social relations in which the families would exchange numerous photos of each other,” and was a “joke.”
Resigning hasn’t stopped Congress. Gen. David Petraeus will reportedly still testify before the House and Senate Intelligence Committees this week about the attack in Benghazi that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three others. Petraeus resigned last week as head of the CIA after his extramarital affair with Paula Broadwell was exposed, and since then, the scandal has widened to include Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and Tampa socialite Jill Kelley. Acting CIA director Michael J. Morrell has agreed to testify in Petraeus’s place, but sources confirmed to Fox News on Wednesday that Petraeus would still be there.
Seized several documents at her home.
Senior law-enforcement officials told The Washington Post that Paula Broadwell, the woman who had an extramarital affair with Gen. David Petraeus that eventually led to his resignation as CIA director, is being investigated for classified documents. The FBI searched Broadwell’s Charlotte, N.C., home on Monday night, leaving with several boxes of material that they are currently snooping through, with one official calling it an “issue of national security.” Both Broadwell and Petraeus have denied that Broadwell, who wrote a biography of Petraeus, had access to classified documents.
While Panetta defends investigation.
The head of NATO said on Wednesday that he has “full confidence” in Gen. John Allen, the U.S. and NATO’s top commander in Europe who is currently under an FBI investigation for his relationship with Jill Kelley. Allen has denied any wrongdoing with Kelley, who has been linked to Paula Broadwell, the woman who had an affair with retired four-star Gen. David Petraeus, resulting in his resignation as director of the CIA. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta cautioned that nobody should jump to any conclusions about Allen, although he called his decision to put Allen’s nomination for NATO top general on hold “prudent.”
Sure, David Petraeus had an affair. But can’t we forgive him a little? He’s a hard-core alpha male who’s spent his life serving our country—and we should mind our business, says Michelle Cottle.
First, allow me to make an argument for adultery. Then we’ll run through the qualifiers.
Gen. David Petraeus in Kabul, Afghanistan, July 2011. (Charles Ommanney / Getty Images)
David Petraeus had an affair. Like so many men, he was sloppy about it. He was stupid about it. And, increasingly, it sounds as though the woman he chose to frolic with is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. (Firing off jealous, Jersey Shore-style emails warning another woman to stop flashing her stuff in front of the married dude for whom you are already the Other Woman? Classy. And clever.)
But as the chattering classes gorge themselves on this scandal, a recurring theme keeps popping up. Yeah, Petraeus screwed up, but the guy has spent his life fighting the baddest of bad guys and getting shot at. Can’t we forgive him having a little on the side?
More often than not, it’s women that I’ve heard making this argument. (Perhaps men are more hesitant to voice such a view publicly.) Obviously, not all gals feel this way, and even many of those who do would be loath to admit it. But it’s not hard to grasp the gut-level reasoning at work here.
Unlike, say, some preening, gas-bagging politician who spends half his time expressing moral outrage at the personal shortcomings of his opponents (yes, I’m looking at you, Newt Gingrich), Petraeus is a genuine hero who does the jobs that most of us (and now at you, John Edwards) are too scared to even contemplate. The people willing to do these jobs, to take these risks, tend to be hard-core alpha males, with all of the testosterone poisoning and adrenaline addiction that comes with that. They are what we need them to be, even when that sometimes isn’t what we want them to be.
As the David Petraeus scandal unfolds, physicians everywhere are wondering: why are the suckers in this story both doctors? Internist Kent Sepkowitz on the truth about love lives in lab coats.
With all our recent excitement in discovering just how horny generals, West Pointers, and unpaid social liaisons seem to be, a very basic important and altogether alarming aspect of the All In affair has been overlooked. It’s something that threatens to cripple health care nationwide and cast even longer shadows in the already dim hallways of American hospitals everywhere.
Scott and Paula Broadwell are seen at an annual black-tie event in Charlotte on Nov. 4. (Daniel Coston, Charlotte Observer / MCT / Getty Images)
Granted, the exact carnal details are not yet sorted out, but physicians everywhere are crying out in unison: why oh why are the cuckold and maybe-not-a-cuckold-the-story-isn’t-confirmed both practicing doctors? (And both named Scott?)
Is there something, er, deficient about the type of guy who earns a living saving lives, succoring the sick, abetting the needy? I mean we have so many TV shows about us and we earn a nice living! People used to like us, really like us. What happened? Is it that we are too busy looking at X-rays, taking out gall bladders, returning phone calls late into the night? Do we just lack the necessities? Are we that inferior to a guy in a stiff wool uniform? Maybe our long white coat is too familiar and unadorned and butcherlike to garner respect anymore—and the man with bars and epaulettes is the new hot thing. Oh, Lieutenant Brody, this is all your fault.
The key to understanding this diverting scandal is not to be found in the thousands of emails between David and Paula and John and Jill and Scott and Scott or by designing a conspiracy theory clever enough to incorporate Benghazi and Tampa with women who do pushups on The Daily Show but by considering this one issue: are physicians lousy spouses? Doctors long have worried about this. Indeed, in 1997, a major article in The New England Journal of Medicine examined just how good (or not) M.D. marriages were compared with the rest of the pack. The authors looked at more than 1,000 doctors and found that the rate of divorce overall was more or less the same as other occupations—but varied greatly according to medical specialty (and by anger score; those in the top rage quartile also were at the top in divorce rate. Ah, those grade-grubbing, overachieving doctors). Surprisingly (or extremely unsurprisingly) psychiatrists led the pack at 50 percent, leaving the runners-up (surgeons) in the dust at 33 percent.
As a tip, reading about divorce rates can be confusing. (Wiki offers a decent primer.)
The second woman in the Petraeus scandal is a canny socialite who doggedly cultivated the CIA director and Gen. John Allen, got them to write letters backing her sister in a custody case—and even talked her way into jumping with an elite parachute unit. Michael Daly reports.
There is still no telling how many fates were about to turn when an FBI agent handed 37-year-old Jill Kelley his card after speaking at one of the “civilian academies” the bureau runs as part of its public-relations effort.
Jill Kelley leaves her home in Tampa, Nov. 13, 2012. (Chris O'Meara / AP Phoot)
Kelly later dialed the number on the card to tell the agent she had been receiving a series of unnerving emails. The chain of events that followed would see the agent shamed for supposedly sending Kelley a shirtless picture of himself, although according to one knowledgeable law-enforcement source, it actually was a photo of himself with what appears to be a prominent politician and some other guys at a casual outing where they had their shirts undone.
There were far more serious repercussions for Gen. David Petraeus, who would be forced to step down as director of the CIA.
Gen. John Allen would find his confirmation as NATO chief suddenly in jeopardy as officials began to review thousands of emails originating either with him or with Kelley, though only a few hundred of them appear to actually be directly to each other.
The Pentagon has described some of these emails as “flirtatious” and “of an affectionate nature,” but Allen is unwavering in his insistence that he did nothing untoward.
The hundreds of thousands of other military spouses who stand by their loved ones as they fight, move bases, and take part in an unusual culture. Army wife Bethanne Patrick on the unsung and noble plight of the military’s spouses.
The recent Veterans Day weekend has been overlaid by a scandal hanging over one of our veterans, the much-lauded Gen. David Petraeus, whose resignation as director of the Central Intelligence Agency comes after admitting to an extramarital affair, reportedly with Paula Broadwell, his biographer. Like Petraeus, Broadwell is a graduate of the United States Military Academy. Like Petraeus, Broadwell is a married parent of two.
Holly Petraeus looks on as her husband, David Petraeus, testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 23, 2011. (Cliff Owen / AP Photo)
Neither one of them has ever been a dependent military spouse.
I’m talking about “Army wives” and Army husbands, too—meaning those of us who do not take oaths of military service, but who do stand by our men and women. While we honor our servicemen and women, we often forget that many service members marry men and women who do not themselves wear a uniform but must live by the oaths their spouses take. Even though Hollister “Holly” Knowlton Petraeus grew up as “West Point royalty” (her father, Gen. William Knowlton, was the superintendent of the United States Military Academy during Petraeus’s years as a cadet), when she said “I do,” she gave up her own dreams and began following his.
You might wonder how this is different from a person who marries a doctor or any professional whose career requires moves from place to place. I can tell you that it is, because I am a military spouse: Few other marriages involve a beige Dependent Spouse ID card that is necessary for everything from grocery shopping at the post commissary to emergency-room care at any hospital. From my own personal experience as the wife of a West Point cadet, I can tell you that the indoctrination starts early: If you are married in a traditional military ceremony, after your saber arch has formed and you’ve walked through it, the last person will turn his saber flat, whack you on the backside, and yell “Welcome to the Army, Mrs. Patrick!”
The assumption is, from the moment the vows are finished, that a military spouse will “fall in” with whatever her spouse’s career needs. The old joke is that “If the Army wanted you to have a wife, they would have issued you one;” in other words, you’re expendable, and might be troublesome. Women whose love for a soldier transcends their discomfort with field conditions were once known as “camp followers.” Over time, the military adjusted. Pensions were granted to war widows, housing was added to posts and bases, and services provided for the children of military marriages (although the appellation “brats” has never left them). The military is still adjusting, of course, and Holly Petraeus has been an amazing part of that change in her efforts to help families learn more about their consumer rights.
Circle the wagons? Lay out all the facts? Call in the press for a sit-down? Wait it out? Crisis-management experts offer their takes on what players in the Petraeus saga—from the president to the other woman—should do.
How do you manage bombshell in Washington? A crisis of epic proportions? How can you determine the facts, spin the story, and attempt to ameliorate the damage?
Gen.l David Petraeus at the ISAF compound in Kabul, Afghanistan, July 2011. (Charles Ommanney / Getty Images)
1. Call a white-collar defense lawyer.
2. Line up a crisis-management expert.
(Expect a hefty tab for both. Hourly rates can run between $500 and $1,000 on up.)
3. Pray there are no more shoes to drop.
When powerful men stray, the press continues to ogle, and shame, the women they do it with, writes Allison Yarrow.
The more things change: one of the world’s most powerful men stepped out on his marriage, yet much of the public attention and opprobrium has focused on the far-less-powerful woman who was drawn to him, media critics and other observers charged Tuesday—with several comparing the coverage of CIA Director David Petraeus and Paula Broadwell to that of President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.
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Almost none of the coverage of the scandal involving both Petraeus—the retired four-star general who commanded the U.S. and coalition forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan—and Marine Four-Star General John Allen, who’s presently leading the forces in Afghanistan, has connected the behavior of two of the military’s most decorated leaders with the wave of sexual assault and harassment scandals that has plagued the U.S. military.
“She favored sleeveless outfits that showed off toned, muscular arms,” reported her hometown Charlotte Observer. Unnamed Petraeus aides called her “immune to the notion of modesty” in Afghanistan, when she spent time with Petraeus there while writing his biography, and recalled her “tight shirts and pants” that “made a lasting impression.”
“That’s how we cover our highest-ranked, most powerful women leaders. Of course that trickles down to how media cover any woman,” said Women in Media and News founder and critic Jennifer Pozner.
It’s a joke-off! When the CIA director sleeps with his biographer, late-night comedians have a field day. Watch the best punchlines about the Petraeus-Broadwell affair.
Time for some general humor. Get it? Sorry, these jokes are funnier:
Fallon: What Does Petraeus Think of Skyfall?
The general couldn’t have picked a worse weekend to come clean about his affair. (Well, there were probably worse options, like in the middle of a “surge”—but it was pretty bad.) The new James Bond film, Skyfall, happened to hit theaters right as the former CIA chief revealed his scandalous news, which got Jimmy Fallon wondering: with all of Bond’s sexy spy intrigue, how would Petraeus review the flick?
Stewart: Meet the Conspiracy Theorists
Congress wants to know why David Petraeus took a classified trip to the country where U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens was murdered—and what the general found out while he was there. Eli Lake reports.
Last month, as the FBI was closing in on his affair with Paula Broadwell and the political fight over Benghazi was heating up, David Petraeus made an undisclosed trip to Tripoli, Libya. The purpose of the trip, according to congressional and U.S. officials, was to examine what remained of the CIA’s presence in the country after the United States abandoned the agency’s base and nearby U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi after the Sept. 11 assassination of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.
CIA Director David Petraeus resigned Friday, citing an extramarital affair. (Pete Marovich / Newscom)
More than two months after the Benghazi attack, congressional committees are asking for more information about the former CIA director’s trip. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, a Republican from Georgia and the vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, confirmed on Tuesday that the committee was seeking the report from Petraeus on his visit to Libya.
“Yeah, we will eventually get that,” Chambliss said after a hearing on Benghazi on Tuesday. Asked what he thought the committee might learn about Benghazi, he said, “I don’t know. That’s why we have to get the report.”
Thus far, the CIA has not turned over the report from Petraeus, who resigned last week after acknowledging having an adulterous affair. One Senate staffer who works on intelligence issues said the CIA has told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the agency has not yet finished processing the report.
“The CIA intends to provide its oversight committees the information they are looking for on Benghazi,” a spokesman said on Tuesday.
Having trouble keeping track of the saga of David Petraeus's affair with Paula Broadwell? The Daily Beast's timeline has you covered.
On this week's Spin Cycle, Howard Kurtz chats with the longtime Slate editor, who compares the Petraeus story with Bill Clinton's Lewinsky scandal: it was a 'grotesque thing that went out of control, but was so much fun.'
Lessons on leadership from General David Petraeus.
With David Petraeus out as head of the CIA, Michael J. Morell—a 32-year agency veteran—takes over at the top.
Diane Dimond reports on what we know about Gen. Petraeus’s biographer.
It's a joke-off! Watch Jimmy Fallon, Jon Stewart, Seth Meyers and more weigh in on the general.
From suave Jack Ryan to smarmy Eugene Kittridge, potential candidates for America's next top spook.