The Petraeus Affair in Context


We’ve all encountered the media spectacle of General Petraeus’ affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell. In fact I’m sure most of us are quite sick of hearing about it. For me it hearkens back to the days of President Clinton and the 24-7 coverage of that sex scandal. Today, just as then, the media is fascinated by the sexual element rather than what this tells us about the political element, and it obscures the reality of what is happening.

I need to say at the outset that I do not offer this as an independent journalist, but as a biased commentator expressing a view and drawing a conclusion from the available information. Frankly, I wish the rest of the media commentators would admit the same.

Now, what we have in this scandal is actually a reverse wag the dog principle. In the wake of the Lewinsky scandal, a movie was produced called “Wag the dog”, where the president used a war to cover up the sex scandal. It was said that Clinton had stepped up operations in Serbia and Iraq in order to keep eyes focused there rather than to a stained dress. Today we have the opposite, we have a sex scandal which has been lowered onto the public stage in order to cover up a war.

Or should I say wars? There are many facets of this story and many questions which are not being asked, such as how does the FBI get the authority to spy on the CIA director without warrants? What does this say about the relationship between journalists and the government? What is the reason behind all of the personnel shifts in the military? Why did Obama sit on this info until just after the election?

The “access” of access journalism

In the first place this reveals what has become more apparent over the years, although it makes literal what we usually say figuratively, the prostitution of the media. A very close and intimate relationship between the media, academia and the military was created in the new war fighting model that had been forged since the passing of the Patriot Act and the integration between the media, high tech companies and cyber warfare both via viruses and unmanned agents of death, namely drones. In this war fighting model, failures such as the complete fiasco in Iraq and the massive drug war in Afghanistan had been covered up by journalists and academics serving the interests of one branch of the military. This cover-up has been buttressed by partisan accounts of the role of differing Generals. Paula Broadwell’s biography of Petraeus is no exception to this. In fact, her biography was criticized for being too glowing with respect to Petraeus even before the affair became public. This brings to mind “embedded” journalists in general. Although they actually get out of a hotel room and keep fit with troops, where is their real interest? The relationship necessary for the scoop or reporting facts? As critical as it appears liberals are of the military, they very rarely talk about real things. Just as they never speak of the bravery of some troops who do good things for people in the theater of operations, they likewise do not report on the crimes of others, until it is much, much, later, and then only begrudgingly. The Paula Broadwell case should bring a new level of scrutiny to Access journalism in particular, and anything the media puts out in general.

The security breach and conflict of interest

It is reported that Broadwell had classified documents on her computer (source). Did she abuse her access to Petraeus or worse did she steal information? Did he give it to her? Was she a spy? Was she a voracious journalist satiating a different appetite, namely for the scoop? What else does she know? Similar concerns, I recall, were raised during the Lewinsky affair. Did the President compromise himself? Did he open himself up to blackmail? In this case could someone have blackmailed Petraeus to get info? This is why the moral law ought to be followed. Not only could Broadwell obtain information she shouldn’t have, she could be a spy or she could be the source for blackmail.

This story gets more interesting when we see that there is another woman involved, Jill Kelly. The news reports she is a “socialite”. I have to confess I hadn’t the faintest idea what that was and had to look it up. She is someone who hangs out with important people, and she has dined at the White House 3 times this year. Petraeus also had some involvement with this woman, what kind is not clear, both have denied any romantic entanglement. Nevertheless, this irritated Broadwell who then sent harassing e-mails to Jill Kelly. Folks, never send e-mails. As the facets of this story show, nothing is private. This is how the FBI discovered the affair between Petraeus and Broadwell. But wait! The FBI agent gets so excited over this woman, he sends a photo of himself topless! And again, General Allen, who is the top commander in Afghanistan and was in the wings to become the commander of NATO’s European theater, attempted to take the more classical route through poetry. Who is this woman that leaders of the government are prostrating themselves for the chance of a night out? Perhaps this might help the reader to understand my apathy when it comes to our government, to elections and everything else. These are not men.

Yet we need to step away from the honeypot, that is Broadwell, Jill Kelly and the love triangle. That is just a cover to distract us from what is really going on. In good fashion, the media, which is obsessed with sex, will do nothing but focus on this facet and ignore the real story. As we said above, the media has become the whore of government officials though normally in a figurative sense. They cozy up and limit themselves to what the government wants reported, and ignore important things. What is most important in the Broadwell case is not what’s uncovered, but what has been covered over and quickly forgotten. I hope to bring this out just a bit.

The Benghazi connection

What is interesting is what Petraeus may or may not have known what happened in Benghazi, Libya. Apart from the horrors and devastation that the NATO intervention caused in Libya, a stable country with growing economic opportunities in a difficult region turned into a 3rd world war-zone, was the allegation that the Benghazi consulate had prisoners inside. The death of the American ambassador in Benghazi is at the center of the scandal. The White House changed its story numerous times and then blamed the intelligence community for not getting him the information. The real story is different.

In the first place it is necessary to understand what happened in Libya. Qaddafi,  had brought literacy from 20% to 80%, provided free schools and free health-care with the oil and gas surpluses that the state industry had yielded. He was providing jobs to sub-Saharan Africans and drilling underground for water, which large international corporations wish to privatize (source). He also killed political opponents and did bad things, like most rulers. This is not a defense of Qaddafi but a clarification of the situation. Last year Obama and Hillary simply decided it was time for him to go, for largely economic reasons. Qaddafi, in improving Libya, was bringing his country into conflict with a Nixon era memorandum that is still gospel in the state department: NSSM 200. This memo, authored by Henry Kissinger, states that 3rd world countries realizing their resources, are a threat (!) to American security because we won’t be able to steal their resources anymore. So Obama’s regime, just as the Bush regime had done in Iraq, created a phony case using such unsubstantiated and fantastical phantasms of “troops on viagra to rape the population”. These type of things, apart from being unsubstantiated by any intelligence, in any way, much like the mobile production centers in Iraq in 2003, are just ridiculous. Nay more, they’re absurd. The real cause was the consternation of the Obama regime and its corporate contributors that Libya treated its people like human beings and not serfs.

None of Qaddafi’s achievements could stop NATO from bombing schools, hospitals and civilian areas with drone strikes. The US African command, AFRICOM, established by the Bush regime in 2007, coordinated with and armed the Libyan “rebels”, much in the same way the State department and NATO is openly arming the Syrian “rebels” today. Yet many of these “rebels” were not Libyan at all, they were veteran Al Qaeda fighters from Iraq who had killed American soldiers in that conflict, and who later were the recipients of American funding.

That, however, is not the story. After toppling Qaddafi, an utterly unnecessary action, we established a consulate there with a CIA facility nearby. During the September 11 2012 attack on the consulate, in which Ambassador Steven’s was killed, we now know what actually happened. At 10:15 pm local time armed assailants opened fire. Teams of troops were re-directed to Benghazi, and a first attempt to retake the consulate was unsuccessful. The second attempt around 11pm was successful, but fighting continued to midnight at a second facility next to the consulate, the CIA annex. This is the important part of the issue. What was this CIA annex doing? What was their actual role? We’ll hash that out in a minute. Yet in this process ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed. Though reports have been denied, Admiral Ham, in charge of naval forces in the area, was calling for air support of the Annex and was ordered to stand down. Then he was relieved of his command, an order which came from Defense Secretary Panetta. Apparently, Navy seals teams and paramilitary forces were also ordered to stand down, though this is being denied presently as well.

Interestingly, of all people, Paul Broadwell, in the wake of the attack, alleged that the CIA annex had taken some Libyan militants as prisoner. As the director of the CIA, Petraeus would have known and overseen all of this. This goes to what we said above. Petraeus communicating state secrets to his mistress during various encounters, constitutes a huge breach of security. True, she could be making it up, but why? Why put that out there? This was before the affair was exposed, she doesn’t have any reason to make it up. If true, it is possible this admission gave motivation for making this into a public scandal. If true it would also be illegal, since Obama signed an executive order in 2009 that stripped the CIA of its ability to run prisons. Now Blackwater can do that I suppose. That the CIA has denied it carries zero credibility with me, the CIA has routinely denied documented facts. Broadwell allegedly also had classified info on her computer, which begs the question what else did she know? It seems to me that the murder of Ambassador Stevens was a professional assassination, not a random action of mob violence. I think this opinion also helps explain the changing of talking points and shifting of blame, then sex scandal and cover-up. Without facts of course that is what it is, an opinion.

It has also been alleged that the CIA Annex in Benghazi was sending heavy weapons to terrorists fighting as “rebels” in Syria. Many of the so-called rebels have come from Benghazi. That is not so impossible when we consider this report in the Telegraph:

Abdulhakim Belhadj, head of the Tripoli Military Council and the former leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, “met with Free Syrian Army leaders in Istanbul and on the border with Turkey,” said a military official working with Mr Belhadj. “Mustafa Abdul Jalil (the interim Libyan president) sent him there.”

The “covert operation” was immediately laid bare when a rival Libyan rebel brigade detained Belhaj at Tripoli airport, accused him of traveling on a fake passport, and declared they would jail the senior military leader.

Only a letter from the country’s interim president was enough to persuade them to let him leave the country.

The meetings came as a sign of a growing ties between Libya’s fledgling government and the Syrian opposition. The Daily Telegraph on Saturday revealed that the new Libyan authorities had offered money and weapons to the growing insurgency against Bashar al-Assad.

Mr Belhaj also discussed sending Libyan fighters to train troops, the source said. Having ousted one dictator, triumphant young men, still filled with revolutionary fervour, are keen to topple the next. The commanders of armed gangs still roaming Tripoli’s streets said yesterday that “hundreds” of fighters wanted to wage war against the Assad regime. (Source)

Personnel shifts, night of the long knives?

There is another interesting facet. In the wake of this, Petraeus is out. Who was Petraeus? A four star general trying to turn the CIA into an efficient force. While I don’t support a lot of what Petraeus wanted or did in the war on abstract nouns, he was a competent general and administrator, even if most of what he is doing is wrong. Moreover, he was supposed to testify at the Benghazi hearings which the Republicans are running. Even though I think both parties are basically the same, that does not mean there is not infighting over who will lead the two headed hydra that is the two-party system. Eventually after some speculation Petraeus did testify, but made only very mild assertions that someone changed the CIA estimation. Yet on September 14, Petraeus was very much apart of those talking points, specifically saying that the attack was spontaneous outrage over an anti-Islam video. As we know now, at the time of the attack scarcely anyone was aware of the video in the Middle East, least of all Libya were NATO’s “successful” intervention has completely destroyed the infrastructure, so that most people don’t even have access to the news. Irrespective of that, what might Petraeus have said if this scandal had not come to the fore? Was he forced into a cover-up to hide the arms going to Syria? Or was something else going on at the CIA-Annex? We probably will never find out.

There is, moreover, the dismissal of Admiral Ham who was in command on the very night of the attack.  Ham was brought in in 2011 to replace the more reluctant general Ward. He was replaced by Pannetta just after the Petraeus scandal broke. Again, Rear Adm. Charles M. Gaouette, the commander of a carrier group being dispatched to the Middle East. It is highly, and I stress highlyunusual for the military to remove a commander from a strike force, especially for something as broad and ambiguous as “inappropriate leadership” decisions.” Why do this and at the same time as Petreus and Ham? There are even more changes, however. Christopher E. Kubasik the CEO of Lockheed Martin, a defense contractor that is very much apart of the military industrial complex has resigned from that post over an extra-marital affair. By itself that might not mean much, but in the wake of the Petraeus scandal it is very interesting. It could be, that he worked with the White House to not send the federally required WARN notices to employees who are in danger of layoffs, a violation of Virginia law. This means, layoff notices would have gone out to Lockheed employees just days before the election (way to win votes, right?), but the White House agreed to pay all legal fees if Lockeed (or any other defense contractor) did not send the notices, as ABC reports. Kubasikz is another person who likely has some information which is harmful to Obama. We also have General George Allen, who was writing love letters (30,000 pages of them!) to Jill Kelly, who was the root at breaking the Petraeus scandal. He had hoped to become the head of NATOs European command, now that is doubtful, he may even be court-marshaled if they can prove an affair. Who is Allen? The commander of American forces in Afghanistan. Furthermore, since the September 11 Benghazi attack the Navy has fired 8 commanders, including Gaouette who was mentioned above, for very small things, misconduct, rowdy behavior, loss of confidence of subordinates, etc. Changes in personnel happen, its true, this many, especially high profile people however, in such a short period raises a lot of questions.

What do all of these shifts, changes, back-stabbings, etc. mean? In fact we do not know, and unless more info might come to light, we probably will not know. Yet, it suggests the Obama regime is trying to replace military commanders who are less pliant to a civilian regime with those more likely to be loyal to the administration. What does the Panetta defense department, strikingly like the Rumsfeld defense department, want to do to shape the military? Reduce personnel and replace them with drones, cyber attacks, etc. It could be that there were a number of generals and others who could somehow defy the White House. This course of resignations in light of affairs, or other misconduct, is somewhat reminiscent of Eliot Spitzer, who was going to investigate banking fraud in New York, suddenly his affair with a high-priced call girl came to light. Given Clinton’s history this shouldn’t have sunk him, but it did. A conspiracy? Not necessarily but highly suspicious.

There may be many more things going on behind the scenes that we don’t know. What we can know, is that the women and the media’s obsession with sex is not the story, it is a distraction from the real story, which appears to be a power struggle. Why else is the administration and the FBI spying on 4-star generals to dig up dirt? This thesis that the Obama regime is culling generals who are less pliant to the aims of the civilian government, is further established by the dismissal of 4-star General William Ward, who was appointed by President Bush as the head of AFRICOM in 2007. Ward, who was black, had formed relationships with African generals and opposed the NATO intervention in Libya. Then he was promptly removed in 2011. Now, retiring just a few weeks ago, he was demoted, one star was removed, and forced to repay money he supposedly “misappropriated”. When did this happen? Under the cover of the Petraeus scandal. Again it is reasonable to suppose he has info that could hurt Obama. This suggests a power struggle occurring behind the scenes, the nature of which we can not know, but the fact of which we can discern. All of this in November, under the cover of a sex scandal which is so commonplace in government it is meaningless, even though it is offensive to a well informed moral sense.

War without end

What is paramount in the background of the story are the wars. In 2000, the last time I cast a vote for mainline party candidate, I voted for George Bush because he was, it appeared, pro-life and anti-war. I’m ashamed of that vote, and have not voted Republican since. Neither turned out to be true, and wars expanded all around the globe. Liberals in 2008, rightly disgusted with the war on abstract nouns, voted for Obama because his was the anti-war ticket. Not so, the war on transitive nouns, spurred on by a Nobel peace prize, simply got beefed up to new countries: Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, Indonesia, and Syria. Yet many people are not aware of these wars. This is because, as I noted above, they have been fought mostly with unmanned drones, illegally and not approved by congress, and have wreaked terrible destruction and devastation. The lies in Libya do not end with the CIA annex in Benghazi; much like Bush’s “mission accomplished speech” for Iraq, the “successful NATO intervention” has not been successful.

A generally peaceful and stable country with a terrorist presence emanating out of Benghazi which Qaddafi was able to control, has been transformed into a war-zone where the normal operation of production, education, health care and family life have been destroyed, rival militias still fight each other and Qaddafi loyalists are also still in play, not to mention a CIA building that at the least was/is running guns and mercenaries to fight for Obama in Syria. No wonder Obama lied again and again about the September 11 Benghazi attack!  The NATO “intervention” (read terrorism) fails to meet the Catholic just war doctrine on every level, not just in the failure of demonstrating a real threat, but also in causing more harm than preventing. More of this type of war is just around the corner, continuing in Yemen, Afghansitan where 100,000+ civilians have died, and Syria and Iran. Not only are these things completely un-Catholic, un-Christian, they are even bad and destabilizing in a secular sense of peace, and all those things democracy represents. Frankly, I will go as far as to say what our government, along with the French, British and other participating members of NATO, did in Libya was a terrorist action, like the Allied war crime of bombing Dresden in the second world war. If the allegations of prisoners or arms dealing are true, Obama could be impeached, or at least have a black mark on his legacy.

Distributism is the answer

What does all this have to do with Distributism? It might appear off the map, but in fact is intertwined with the economic woes Distributism seeks to address. Consider all the money which continues to flow into the industrial military complex. Consider the war for resources, in Central Asia, Africa and the middle east? These are the reasons for the war on abstract nouns. Imagine if, the military were brought home and reduced to a small but effective professional force capable of defending our borders and advancing military technology toward that end, and the rest of the troops who have a good deal of technical and engineering skill, had opportunities to develop the wealth of natural resources within our borders (rather than of someone else), producing high paying jobs and in turn producing opportunities for other high-paying jobs and ownership of productive property? This thought experiment, far from requiring far fetched things like the conversion of politicians to Catholic social order, is eminently possible and attainable if the people of this country would but demand it. Instead, alas, they will watch the 24-7 coverage of “all the way in”. It would seem the behavior of high-level bureaucrats, CEOs and soldiers, is endemic of the culture at large in a country where the largest single export is pornography. We get the leaders we deserve.


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