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Petraeus and the Media He Manipulated

THE STORIES from national security writers now pouring forth aren’t half of what we should be reading. However, considering people are still lauding Colin Powell after his spectacle at the United Nations selling the Iraq war, with President Obama having unloaded a campaign ad on his behalf, nothing surprises me anymore. The whole sorry affair puts new light on the policy David Petraeus championed, but also on the press he played, giving new meaning to MoveOn.org’s “General Betrayus.”

But what does it say about President Obama, DNI Clapper and the entire administration that they were close to the last to know? Well, unless you count Sen. Diane Feinstein and the crew in Congress.

Clapper was told by the Justice Department of the Petraeus investigation at about 5 p.m. on Election Day, and then called Petraeus and urged him to resign, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly. [Associated Press]

NBC’s justice correspondent Pete Williams reports the FBI and the Justice Department “doesn’t tell members of Congress… who they are investigating.” Need to know in its starkest terms.

Jill Kelly is the woman at the center of Paul Broadwell’s harassment.

From the New York Times:

High-level officials at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department were notified in the late summer that F.B.I. agents had uncovered what appeared to be an extramarital affair involving the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, David H. Petraeus, government officials said Sunday.

But law enforcement officials did not notify anyone outside the F.B.I. or the Justice Department until last week because the investigation was incomplete and initial concerns about possible security breaches, which would demand more immediate action, did not appear to be justified, the officials said.

Read Spencer Ackerman for a sobering mea culpa from a seduced reporter covering Petraeus.

Michael Hastings unloads.

Whether we’ll here from Tom Ricks, the man who aided Paula Broadwell’s gauzy biography is another story. Ricks was once the finest we had, but he too got suckered by coziness that comes with laudatory coverage.

Access journalism and the competition to get eyes to the web page has led our media to be wet nurses to people who don’t deserve it.

Was David Petraeus a man who gave his life to his country? Absolutely. Did he deserve the god status he was afforded. No person does.

I wonder how John McCain is feeling today? Considering he helped sell Petraeus’s surge, which was never all that, sucked in by the celebrity of the general, perhaps it would be a good idea to remember what this country is about.

Civilians are to run our wars and decide policy, not generals on the ground, whether McChrystal or Petraeus. Men and women we owe a debt of gratitude for their sacrifice, but aren’t meant to be celebrities.

If this spectacle doesn’t make you look at the media yet again then you’re part of the problem, too.

When Benghazi happened, how many people were asking questions of DCIA David Petraeus out of the gate? If you’re regular readers around here you can name at least one.

This piece has been updated.

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6 Responses to Petraeus and the Media He Manipulated

  1. jjamele November 12, 2012 at 9:49 am #

    By Sunday morning I was turning off the tv and radio whenever Petraeus came up, because I couldn’t stand to listen to any more of the nonstop hero-worship. Seriously, you’d think the guy was a combination of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Jesus Christ, except better. You’d also think that he was worshipped so intently in the media and political circles that the swoon MacArthur inspired in 1952 was nothing by comparison. Petraeus demonstrates the danger of places people on pedestals. My guess is that 99 percent of Americans didn’t have a clue what the media and our elected officials were getting in such a froth over- Diane Feinstein in particular was ridiculous, she actually told her interviewer that she was “devastated” and “in shock” over Petraeus.

    A caller to CSPAN asked why Petraeus was under such scrutiny, considering “when Clinton had his affair, nobody cared.” Apparently this idiot was asleep throughout the second half of 1998. But the point is, this isn’t about a general having an affair. This is about the head of the CIA leaving himself open to possible blackmail and security leaks. The sooner the media and the politicians get over their “Fallen Hero” schtick and back to serious work, the better.

  2. Jane Austen November 12, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

    It kind of reminds me of the old saying, “the bigger they are, the harder they fall.”

    • Cujo359 November 12, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

      Reminds me of the expression “DC is a village, and the press are its idiots”. Maybe I made up that expression…

      At any rate, I’m reminded again of how incestuous and insular DC is. How much concern is there for returning servicemembers who kill themselves at a far greater rate than the general population? How much for their relatives and friends who can’t find work, or can’t pay the bills despite having a job, let alone can afford to have medical care? Even now, Patraeus has it good compared to those people. He had a long career in a profession he loved. It’s over now, and that’s sad for him, but his fall is at least partly due to his own actions.

      From what little comment I could find from the rank and file, plus his being given what he asked for publicly and having failed to achieve what was needed, Patraeus seemed to be no great shakes as a general. His main talent appears to be having been able to create a positive public image of himself. All the hero worship would, IMHO, best be spent on the folks who did the fighting, suffering, and dying in his campaigns. But those folks don’t live in DC, so it’s not going to happen.

  3. spincitysd November 13, 2012 at 3:34 pm #

    http://bit.ly/SpinOnDave

    Just a few days ago General David Petraeus went from hero of the age to flawed mortal. The immediate source of this transition was a woman. I know, surprise, surprise. Suddenly there was no shortage of hagiographers putting on sack cloth and covering their heads with ashes. The Moron Media got suckered again– big surprise.

    Forgive me for being so cynical, but I was never buying what Dave The Dolt was selling. For me the man was just another careerist hack in a brass hat. A little harsh you might say? Well gentle reader, sometimes harshness is called for when far too many people buy into a dog and pony show.

    http://bit.ly/SpinOnDave

    • Cujo359 November 13, 2012 at 8:00 pm #

      A good rundown of the situation, and well worth the read. I also liked Pat Lang’s take on Patraeus’ career. I don’t find what he wrote at all surprising.

      • Cujo359 November 13, 2012 at 8:22 pm #

        Oops. Here’s the permalink to that Pat Lang article. In a few days, it will be off the front page, I’m sure.

.... a writer is someone who takes the universal whore of language
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