Michael Tabman

Lies, Bedroom Eyes And A Career Demise ~ The General Petraeus Fiasco

In Crime and Security on November 12, 2012 at 10:59 am

Recently, I was asked to discuss the General Petraeus matter and the FBI investigation on Celebrity Court Radio.  Why was the FBI involved?  Did General Petraeus have to resign?  Was damage done to our national security?

As so often happens when discussing fast breaking and high profile matters, we base our opinions on a blend of facts, falsehoods, rumor, innuendo and the yet-to-be-learned.  This scandal is no different.  There is more to be learned and clarified.   But, based upon what we think we know now, there are some important observations.

From the mythological Sirens to Mata Hari, the demise of men lured by the femme fatale is nothing new.  Yet, we are shocked when a man of prominence and power succumbs to bedrooms eyes, and the inevitable lies.

General Petraeus, as a man of honor appeared to be above men-being-men behavior.  General Petraeus had a brilliant career and is a national hero.  But, he is just a man.

The unraveling of this mess began when a woman in Florida, who was a friend of Petraeus, called a friend of hers at the FBI to report Cyber harassment.  Federal law prohibits telephone or internet communications by someone “…without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass…”   This would fall under FBI investigative authority.  Many are questioning why the FBI would initiate what appears to be a minor investigation that could be handled by local law enforcement.  As noted in my first book, Walking the Corporate Beat: Police School for Business People, while you hear about major FBI investigations, most FBI investigations are not major criminal or terrorist matters; they are often mundane and uninspired.

While the FBI determined that no criminal violations occurred, they did learn of Petraeus’ affair, purportedly with Paula Broadwell.  The potential for compromise via blackmail is obvious.  The more subtle concern however, is that  Broadwell is an author and contributor to newspapers.  Her job is to get information.  Petraeus’ job is to protect information.  The conflict is clear.  The exclusive access that Petraeus apparently gave her was inappropriate in fact and appearance, whether they were having an affair or not.  This was a major indiscretion by Petraeus.

The FBI investigation did not target Petraeus. He has not been implicated in any criminal wrong-doing and nor are there any allegations that sensitive or national security information was disclosed.  But, that does not seem to assuage our concerns.

Did Petraeus have to resign?  Did this affair mean that we could no longer trust Petraeus?  During my 27 year career in law enforcement, I witnessed extra-marital affairs run amok.  Yet, I never saw that interfere with the work getting done.  However, not all affairs have the same implications.

Moral judgments aside, this affair was a bad move.  As a career military man, General Petraeus knew the battle was lost; he knew it was time to surrender.

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  1. You stated in your Blog, ” men-being-men behavior. General Petraeus had a brilliant career and is a national hero. But, he is just a man.”

    All men don’t cheat, just as all women are not virtuous. And this whole animal complex psychology stating that men need to populate the earth with many females is really too much credence being given to Sigmund Fraud.

    Look at our society being inundated with sex at every turn, advertisements, commercials, it’s like sex starved children who can’t behave themselves. It’s enough to turn even the most pious person into a sexual fiend.

    Not to be offensive to Police officers, but Patraeus’ position was more heavily weighted in matters of national security and should not be mitigated and compated to that of subordinate positions. So in fact his having an affair carried far more weight. In regard to the FBI being involved there is so much more that they should be involved in as it pertains to national security and certainly as it pertains to policing at state level.

    We have too many people out there trying to serve two gods, meaning the one that signs their paychecks and the other who is willing to pay them under the table to exploit the power of their state and federal positions.

    And these friends who started the investigation, just how long had Patraeus known these people?

    You say:

    Many are questioning why the FBI would initiate what appears to be a minor investigation that could be handled by local law enforcement.

    Obviously these people have not had to deal with local law enforcement, and it is especially bad when the one who is sent out is helping to protect the crime factions operating in the local area. Or the crime being committed is too far below or above the local law enforcements radar and they simply don’t know how to handle it, or lack the proper funds, training and staff.

    This was indeed a matter for the FBI.

    Back to what you say about men being men let’s not disgrace our American men. I agree with the fact that Patraeus is only human, we are humans and we fail by design. I would also venture to say that Patraeus had many successes as well. But I feel we do a great injustice by saying his failure was due to him being a man, that is disgraceful, he failed as all of us do from time to time because he is human.

    A question that I have is how is Paula sleeping these days? After all she participated in actions that help take down a well decorated General and head of the CIA.

    I would think that is not how she would want to be remembered in the history books.

    • You bring up a lot points. But as to men-being-men, in the context used, it was to point out that Gen Petraeus must be held to a higher standard. No disrespect to anyone intended. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Michael

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