LOCAL SPIN: General Disorder
Sexy time with the nation’s military elite.
Thursday, November 15, 2012
A friend of mine has, for the past few weeks, spent almost every waking moment at a Natividad Medical Center rehab facility, where her mother is recuperating from a stroke. She hasn’t had much time to follow the news, so Monday night she asks me, “What’s up with the Petraeus thing?”
“Hmm, how do I explain this one?” I say. “I really need a cocktail napkin and a few different colors of Sharpies so I can timeline it or maybe use a Venn diagram and… ”
She had neither time nor patience. I sketched out the Regional Desalination Plant debacle in the same fashion, and she still complains about the minutes of her life that are never coming back. Really, she just wanted to know what was up with all the horny talk emanating from D.C.
And in the time it took me to launch into the sordid tale of the naughty general and his buff biographer, I hit the refresh button on my Safari browser and the story had morphed to include the naughty general, the buff biographer, her doctor husband, the clueless Washington Post ghostwriter, the shirtless FBI agent, the socialite/military-community liaison, yet another doctor husband, the liaison’s twin sister, the twin’s boatload of legal problems and – sweet fancy Moses – a second possibly naughty general.
Oh, and NATO too. You can almost hear preternaturally calm Defense Secretary Leon Panetta kicking a trash can or two.
How, exactly, ex-CIA director Gen. David Petraeus found the time for an affair with biographer Paula Broadwell (and for the hundreds of emails he sent after she supposedly ended said affair), and Gen. John Allen, commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, found time to send reportedly flirty emails to Jill Kelley, the doctor’s wife/military liaison Broadwell perceived as her rival for Petraeus’ affection, is beyond me. I get tired just thinking about it. Who was running stuff while all this was going on? Have none of these people seen Fatal Attraction?
YOU CAN ALMOST HEAR LEON PANETTA KICKING A TRASH CAN OR TWO.
“Deployment,” my veteran husband says with a shrug. “It’s not like they had to worry about home life on deployment. And really, if you delegate properly, you have a lot of free time.”
As my pal Laurie Notaro – alt-weekly columnist and author of The Idiot Girls Action-Adventure Club – put it on Facebook, “If you ever want to see how crazy people are, read a little bit about the Petraeus affair. It is like Twin Peaks. All it needs is a little person.”
In this sordid saga, nothing would surprise me. To recap: Broadwell, a Ph.D. student and West Point grad like Petraeus, embeds (no pun intended) with him in Afghanistan while researching a biography titled All In: The Education of General David Petraeus (seriously, no pun intended), ghostwritten by the world’s most clueless writer, Washington Post community editor Vernon Loeb, who swears he knew nothing about the affair while helping Broadwell write the book.
Petraeus retires from the Army, is named to head the CIA, Broadwell dumps him, he keeps sending her emails and, in the meantime, Broadwell also starts sending anonymous catty emails to Jill Kelley, who knows Petraeus and his wife, Holly – the only sympathetic character in this clusterfuck – through her volunteer work as a liaison between the military and Tampa’s elite.
Kelley reports the emails to a pal at the FBI, who is so obsessed with her he sent her shirtless pics of himself. And as the FBI starts examining Kelley’s emails (despite that, so far, no actual crime has been committed), they stumble onto the shirtless pics and have to start investigating their investigator. A warrant later, even though Petraeus and Broadwell thought they were clever by only writing draft emails saved in an account both of them could access, whammo! Petraeus is resigning, the FBI is searching Broadwell’s house and Allen, who is supposed to be running Afghanistan, is waving goodbye to his nomination as Supreme Allied Commander in Europe and explaining his emails to Kelley (and his support of her twin sister, who’s involved in a nasty custody battle.)
Is this all private, non-criminal behavior? Well, not so private anymore. Is it criminal? Congress is ticked off, and FBI director Robert Mueller and Attorney General Eric Holder have a lot of ’splaining to do about who knew what and when. And while Broadwell, Kelley and at least Petraeus are a boatload of crazy – and totally lacking in the judgment department – so far nobody’s been charged with a crime. Broadwell had a lot of confidential documents she shouldn’t have, though.
So what’s the takeaway? One: Keep your pants zipped and think before you type. And two: Who needs reality TV?
MARY DUAN is the Weekly’s editor. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her at twitter.com/maryrduan.