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Le Point, France

The Petraeus Affair:
Obama, CIA, FBI, All Guilty


By Michel Colomès

It is not General Petraeus' infidelity that is scandalous, but the time it took for security agencies to notice.

Translated By Tara Ferguson

15 November 2012

Edited by Lau­rence Bouvard


France - Le Point - Original Article (French)

11 years after September 11, American security agencies still have major weaknesses in both their means of investigation and their coordination, amongst themselves and with executive power. Along with these shortcomings of the FBI and the CIA, the immoral actions, revealed on November 9, of a general going through a mid-life crisis are no more than an indicator of the failures of these organizations. However, American puritanism today puts much more emphasis on General Petraeus’ faux pas than on the vulnerability to which political and security officials have, in their blindness, exposed the intelligence of the world’s most powerful country for many months.

This is because, while neither tolerated nor accepted by morality as understood in the United States, General Petraeus’ infidelity only becomes a concern because the faux pas of the one who had been appointed director of the CIA, thanks to Obama’s support, put national security at risk. This is both due to the fact that his mistress’s access to a joint inbox may have been the source of the leaking of national defense secrets which could have passed through the address where he received his e-mails, and also because the existence of this connection with his biographer, the luscious Paula Broadwell, could have become a way for foreign agencies to blackmail the head of the American intelligence agency.

The KGB worked in this way during the many years of the Cold War by putting creatures into the beds of diplomats and naïve high officials whose mission was to extort information and to put them in a position of weakness if some services were required by those who handled the women. The Quay d’Orsay still mocks General de Gaulle’s rude remark to one of our ambassadors in Moscow, recalled to Paris after one of these “indiscretions”: "So, Dejean..., we’ll sleep together!"

Pathetic Vaudeville

Petraeus met Paula Broadwell in 2006 at Harvard, while she was preparing a thesis on the art of command. The young woman prolonged the interview, which began at the New England university, by means of regular correspondence. She went to see him when he was appointed in Tampa, Florida. The visits particularly increased when he became commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan in 2010. The ease and especially the authorization which the general granted to her and with which she was able to follow him everywhere, officially transforming her from a student into his biographer, did not fail to surprise the officers of his staff.

However, this proximity, which is said not yet to have been an affair because it suits them to say so now, does not seem to have worried the FBI and the CIA when Obama decided to put Petraeus at the head of the American intelligence agency during the course of 2011. Yet such an appointment is always preceded by a careful investigation by the FBI as well as the CIA. Apparently, they did not find anything that was likely to discourage the president from appointing him.

It was only 18 months later, after a pathetic vaudeville revealed in insulting e-mails from the general’s mistress to another of his loved ones whom she considered a potential rival, that the FBI seized the case and quickly became aware that the infidel was the head of the CIA, that confidential e-mails may wander and that the head of U.S. intelligence had ipso facto become a potential target for blackmailing by foreign powers.

Wednesday night, in the first press conference since the election, after having paid homage to the one he had chosen (“We are safer because of the work that Dave Petraeus has done."), Obama cautiously added that the investigation was ongoing and that the FBI still had his trust. At that point, what else could he say?



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