The Other Petraeus Scandal: The Sex Police

Ah, the FBI. Ask them to prove any case involving a triviality like torture or financial fraud, you’re out of luck. But if someone might be involved in the sexytime in their email — especially if it might sort of vaguely affect a Democratic administration — they’ll be right on it:

According to a senior U.S. defense official, the FBI has uncovered between 20,000 and 30,000 pages of documents — most of them e-mails — that contain “potentially inappropriate” communication between Allen and Jill Kelley, the 37-year-old Tampa woman whose report of harassment by a person who turned out to be Petraeus’s mistress ultimately led to Petraeus’s downfall.

1)If by “inappropriate” — oh, wait, sorry, potentially inappropriate, now there’s a standard for a fishing expedition through someone’s email I’m comfortable with –  nothing more is meant than “emails with the sexytime in them” this investigation is a massive scandal, and 2)I’m pretty confident that if anything more was meant by it, we would be hearing about it now.   Kelley and the generals are all adults and weren’t involved in any kind of supervisory relationship, so anything “inappropriate” about their communications would really not seem to be any of the FBI’s business.

And the same problem exists with the initial investigation. Apparently, there was nothing in Broadwell’s initial emails that comes remotely close to illegal threats or harassment. As far as I can tell, there’s absolutely nothing here that justifies an ongoing investigation that involves combing through people’s email with the inevitable leaks to the press. Whether or not it was the result of partisan motivations, it’s outrageous that this investigation didn’t die after Broadwell’s emails to Kelley revealed no illegal threats.   And if “potentially” “inappropriate” behavior justifies extensive looks into people’s private communications, we might as well just pass a constitutional amendment doing away with that obsolete Fourth one.

…more here.

185 comments on this post.
  1. john:

    Try this: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/13/jill-kelley-petraeus-fbi_n_2120526.html

    The FBI agent who started this mess is another horny republican.

  2. Pinko Punko:

    They just can’t help but read e-mails. It is too tempting,

  3. Informant:

    Whether or not it was the result of partisan motivations, it’s outrageous that this investigation didn’t die after Broadwell’s emails to Kelley revealed no illegal threats.

    This overlooks the issue that I’ve seen reported elsewhere: Broadwell’s anonymous e-mails to Kelly, while reportedly containing no threats rising to the level of being illegal in and of themselves, revealed that she was someone who (a) knew the travel patterns and whereabouts of top military personnel, and (b) was spreading that information. I think, from a national security, perspective, it would make sense in that situation to at least find out the sender’s identity and question them about the security leak issue.

  4. Incontinentia Buttocks:

    You know what would be great? If there were a law, a constitutional amendment even, that declared the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures…and that no warrants shall be issued, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. Such a law would really limit abuses like this…assuming that the surveillance state didn’t come around with clever legal doctrines to circumvent it, of course.

  5. c u n d gulag:

    The FBI and CIA have been mortal internal enemies since the CIA was formed.

    And, maybe I’m being either stupid or naive here (not a rare thing at all), but, what do we have a National SECURITY Agency for, and why weren’t they the ones looking into this?
    I mean, didn’t this involve the possiblity of a compromised CIA Director, and whether there were some national SECURITY ramifications?

    This is obviously beyond my pay grade.

    But this whole thing stinks like a dead fish floating in a puddle of oil in the Gulf.

  6. Scott Lemieux:

    I know! What a utopia that would be.

  7. J.W. Hamner:

    How does “a volunteer who organizes social events for military personnel in the Tampa area” qualify as “top military personnel” exactly?

  8. Malaclypse:

    That’s crazy talk.

  9. rea:

    Well, the NSA’s jursidiction is foriegn communications and cryptanalysis. Despite the name, it’s not generally tasked with national security. And of course, thee were not foriegn communications, and that jursidictional limit is somewhat touchy.

  10. john:

    Josh Marshall:
    “So basically this entire scandal both at the outset and in the denouement was driven by Freakshow FBI Agent X who both wanted to bed the victim of the alleged harassment and also decided that the FBI was covering up it’s investigation of the Tampa socialite to protect President Obama. And this because of his “worldview”. Please let us meet this awesome example of American law enforcement.”
    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/2012/11/petraeus_likely_most_mentally_balanced_individual.php?ref=fpblg

  11. c u n d gulag:

    Socialist!
    Fascist!!
    Communist Liberal Heathen!!!

  12. Lindsay Beyerstein:

    I gather from Informant’s comment that the emails showed that Broadwell knew about Petraeus’s travel plans and was spreading them around to “a volunteer who organizes social events.” Petraeus would have been top CIA personnel rather than top military personnel at the time, though.

  13. c u n d gulag:

    I figured it probably has something to do with jurisdiction, but I wasn’t sure.

    But by having the FBI take the lead on this, doesn’t it beg the question of what the agency would have done if this was the Director of the FBI, and not CIA?

  14. rea:

    There has to be something more to this, doesn’t there?

    And why the heck were the rigthwingnuts so instrumental in taking down Petreus and Allen? I thought the rightwingnuts liked those guys?

  15. Jonas:

    If our founders wanted email to remain private, they would have explicitly said so. That’s what strict constructionism is all about.

  16. Josh G.:

    The sex is pretty much the least scandalous of all the things going on with this Petraus nonsense. I don’t care about who these guys are sleeping with, but I do care a great deal about abuse of law enforcement, and the conflicts of interest by someone who posed as an objective scholar on Petraus’s life and works. (See this article for the sort of vile apologia that Broadwell cranked out. According to Broadwell, someone who complains about their home being destroyed by American forces is engaging in “theatrics”.)

  17. Manta:

    Are you seriously defending Petraeus right to privacy?

    He was at the head of CIA: so, hoisted on his own petard.

  18. mark f:

    They agreed to work with the enemy. True Patriots would’ve resigned or, better, initiated a coup to restore constitutional republicanism.

  19. john:

    Maybe because they are idiots blinded by hatred of Obama and unable to make rational decisions. plus “socialism” and “Benghazi”

  20. J.W. Hamner:

    The only thing I’ve seen about the content (linked above) consists of:

    The messages were instead what the source terms “kind of cat-fight stuff.”

    “More like, ‘Who do you think you are? … You parade around the base … You need to take it down a notch,’” according to the source, who was until recently at the highest levels of the intelligence community and prefers not to be identified by name.

    The base described is MacDill Air Force Base in Florida, where Kelley serves as an unpaid “social liaison.” The source reports that the emails did make one reference to Gen. David Petraeus, but it was oblique and offered no manifest suggestion of a personal relationship or even that he was central to the sender’s spite.

    If this characterization is accurate, I’m having difficulty seeing how anyone could justify an investigation based on it. Certainly I see no evidence of a national security threat.

  21. Manta:

    Also, I would reserve judgement until facts get out in public: the articles linked rely on anonymous sources, and I would be a bit wary of trusting anonymous people working for the government.

  22. Warren Terra:

    To be fair, even our current rather lamentable Court rejected this principle, and even invoked privacy, recently RE GPS tagging.

  23. somethingblue:

    There has to be something more to this, doesn’t there?

    God, let’s hope so. I didn’t think it was possible for things to get any stupider.

  24. John:

    Yeah, when you take a job as head of the CIA, you’re agreeing to have a lot less privacy than a private citizen.

  25. Informant:

    From this article: http://openchannel.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/11/12/15119872-emails-on-coming-and-goings-of-petraeus-other-military-officials-escalated-fbi-concerns

    “Menacing” anonymous emails that launched the FBI investigation which ultimately brought down CIA Director David Petraeus contained references to the “comings and goings” of high-level U.S. military officials, raising concerns that someone had improperly gained access to sensitive and classified information, a source close to the recipient tells NBC News.

  26. Warren Terra:

    Petraeus is rumored to once have politicked to the benefit of a previous Republican Commander-In-Chief, but all mention of the alleged President in question has been lost to history, and especially his name. More importantly, Petraeus has always been at war with Eastasia been in the service of the Kenyan Usurper, and as said Dusky Muslim Atheist Communist’s CIA apparatchik Petraeus is suspected to have personally ordered the deaths of those four Americans in Benghazi.

    Look: we’re talking about Republicans. They’re nuts, they despise anyone who can stand to be in the same room as Obama, and they’d rather jump at every shadow than stop, reflect, and preserve the viability of this nationally famous and respected presumptive Republican.

  27. spencer:

    Does the NSA historically give a shit about its jurisdictional limitations, though?

  28. tonycpsu:

    This is true, but the incursions on privacy should be related to your clearance background check and other things related to doing your job, not to find out “who were you fucking and when were you fucking them?”

  29. DrDick:

    You dreamer. Civil rights is sooo 20th century.

  30. DrDick:

    That was my thought when I heard about this angle. They view cooperation as treason to the cause.

  31. Bill Altreuter:

    No. No goddamnit, it does not “beg the question”. It raises the question.

  32. Manta:

    I thought the government could spy on everybody with impunity, and nobody would be in position to protest.

  33. Halloween Jack:

    Twenty to thirty thousand? Fuck me, there’s cybering and then there’s being compulsive about it.

  34. rea:

    I suspect that there is no search-and-seizure issue here because the emails were recovered from government-owned computers.

  35. greylocks:

    It wasn’t just his privacy that was invaded, wired with detcord and C4, then detonated.

    None of the other characters in this play deserves any sympathy either, but that didn’t give the FBI the right to fuck up their lives. Broadwell and the Kelleys are private citizens, and haven’t broken any laws. Regardless of what you think of their conduct, they shouldn’t have been outed by the FBI.

  36. Scott Lemieux:

    And if that’s “harassment” in the legal sense, pretty much every blogger with an audience of more than 20 has enough ammunition to trigger dozens of FBI investigations.

  37. Scott Lemieux:

    There has to be something more to this, doesn’t there?

    You were asleep from 1992-1999, I take it.

  38. David Mathias:

    I believe one of the reasons, or at least rationalizations, is “emails that launched the FBI investigation which ultimately brought down CIA Director David Petraeus contained references to the “comings and goings” of high-level U.S. military officials, raising concerns that someone had improperly gained access to sensitive and classified information.”
    I don’t know how seriously I take that.

  39. Scott Lemieux:

    Let’s, for the sake of argument, say that Petraeus gives up any basic privacy rights when he became head of the CIA. The thing is, his name should never have come up. This should have stopped way before his name came into it. Kelley and Broadwell aren’t senior government officials.

  40. Jonas:

    That may be true. But Scalia interpreting the 14th Amendment so that the equal protection doesn’t apply to women because the 14th amendment doesn’t explicitly mention women was defended on the strict constructionist grounds.

  41. catclub:

    There is supposed to be a DNI – who is boss of both CIA and NSA, not sure about FBI.

    But DNI is still a paper tiger with no budget authority.

    DNI is not even mentioned in these discussions – except by me!

  42. NonyNony:

    Apparently only if you’re friends with an FBI agent though.

    If you don’t personally know an FBI agent then they will just tell you to go away.

    This is not surprising – anyone who has ever worked anywhere knows that you can get support staff to help you when they normally wouldn’t if you have a buddy on the staff that they don’t want to piss off or they owe a favor to or they just want to help out. That’s why there should be more checks on what jobs the agents of a police agency like the FBI take than there are on what tickets the help desk at your company services. Sadly, from knowing cops, I suspect that the help desk has more oversight on these things.

  43. greylocks:

    AFAIK, the whereabouts and travel plans of “top military personnel” or the CIA director would not normally be classified unless they were mission-related.

  44. catclub:

    What about comings and comings?
    never mind the goings.

  45. NonyNony:

    The answer is – the FBI. Because the initial case was about someone receiving harassing e-mails from an anonymous account, which is part of the FBI’s mandate when it comes to … ahem .. “cyber-crime” (sigh – that battle is lost, but I still hate it).

    And honestly – the only reason this seems to NOT have been handled “internally” and dealt with seems to be because Eric Cantor got involved. Is that story still accurate?

    This whole thing is a big-ass mess. And if it turns out that Petraeus actually lost his job because the Fox News Benghazi Bubble convinced a wingnut FBI agent and a wingnut Congressman that this crap was part of a CIA coverup, I think I might laugh my ass off.

  46. Richard:

    And government workers would have already signed written documents acknowledging that they have no privacy interest in their emails and that they are subject to review by supervisors and law enforcement.

  47. Richard:

    Broadwell gave up any privacy rights to her emails (and the emails sent to her) when she complained to the FBI. The FBI then traced the anonymous emails to Kelley and her identity isn’t protected. However, at that point, the FBI should have been able to conclude that the anonymous emails didn’t violate any law and, unless there was something in Broadwell’s emails indicating that she had access to confidential information, end the investigation. I don’t see how they had the right to read Kelley’s emails to anyone other than Broadwell.

    Then again, there might be more stuff than what is being leaked piecemail to the press.

  48. joel hanes:

    Bless you, my brother in pedantry.

  49. LosGatosCA:

    I thought the mission at the CIA is to fuck all of the people all of the time.

    Or am I missing something?

  50. Richard:

    From another news story:

    What most alarmed Kelley and the FBI, the source said, were references to “the comings and goings” of high-level generals from the U.S. Central Command, which is based at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, and the U.S. Southern Command, as well as Petraeus — including events that were not on any public schedule. This raised the question as to whether somebody had access to sensitive — and classified — information”

    This would indicate something more than the travel plans of Petraeus.

  51. LosGatosCA:

    I think you mixed up Kelly and Broadwell. Or maybe Allen and Petraeus. Or Mueller and the box of rocks stupid FBI guy.

  52. Richard:

    Well looking at more news stories, its being said that once the FBI found Kelley’s identity and started looking at her emails (presumably the ones to Broadwell first but who knows), it found references to the private travel schedules of numerous high ranking army personnel, not just Petraeus, leading to a possibility that she had inappropriate access to confidential information.

  53. Pooh:

    What the hell is an “unpaid social liasion?

    On the substance of this, isn’t it possible that somebody in the FBI knew something about Petreaus and Broadwell already and this gave them the hook they needed to investigate possible security breaches?

  54. LosGatosCA:

    I’m thinking this box of rocks stupid FBI guy who called Cantor should team up with Jeff Novitzky – like Tango and Cash.

  55. JohnR:

    A stitch in your side saves nine.
    Haste makes radioactive waste.
    What goes around gets dizzy and falls over.
    No pain, no amplification.
    Don’t Elmo your chickens before they’re hatched.
    etc., etc.
    Of course, all this begs the question: “what does “beg the question mean, anyway?”"

  56. J. Edgar Hoover:

    We cannot be hamstrung this way!

  57. LosGatosCA:

    Someone who socially liases for free.

  58. Lily von Shtupp:

    Maybe I sing it for you, liebling.

  59. Murc:

    Common usage is going to win this philological battle, my friend.

  60. Vance Maverick:

    That was a count, not of messages, but of “pages”. (I believe the FBI can’t investigate electronic mail without printing it out, and probably putting each sheet in a plastic pocket in a three-ring binder.) And the page count would be inflated by long reply chains, making it proportional in general to the square of the number of messages.

  61. Manta:

    Kelly was the woman who called the FBI: her privacy was not violated.
    And, according to the usual anonymous sources,
    “When Petraeus’s name surfaced, FBI investigators were concerned that the CIA director’s personal e-mail account had been hacked and that national security had been threatened. The officials said further investigation, including FBI interviews with Broadwell and Petraeus, led to the discovery that the two were engaged in an affair.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/fbi-probe-of-petraeus-triggered-by-e-mail-threats-from-biographer-officials-say/2012/11/10/d2fc52de-2b68-11e2-bab2-eda299503684_story.html

    But, to reiterate: relying on those kind of sources is not recommended, unless one wants to be lied to.

  62. mark f:

    As it should, because that’s the way people use it.

  63. Vance Maverick:

    (Or rather, the product of the number of messages and the average length of the chains. But if there’s only one subject to talk about, the chains can get long. Or so I’ve heard.)

  64. Richard:

    You’re right. Kelley complains about harassing emails. FBI investigates and finds out they were sent by Broadwell but no crime committed. In reveiwing Kelley’s emails (which she game them permission to look at by making the complaint), it appear that Kelley might have had access to confidential information. In reviewing Petraeus emails, which he gave them permission to do so by reason of his status as head of the CIA and probably explicitly, FBI finds out that he was having affair with Broadwell. In reviewing Kelley’s emails, FBI also finds information about a relationship with Allen. In reviewing Allen’s emails, FBI finds out he has some sort of inappropriate relationship with Kelley.

  65. Richard:

    Got the names wrong again. Its in looking at Kelley’s emails, to which she seems to have given permission in making her complaint, that the FBI finds that Kelley may have had access to private travel schedules of high ranking army personnel. However, this is getting so complicated that who the hell knows what happened.

  66. sharculese:

    Is it really so hard to believe that a dude who thought the President of the United States conspired to cover up an extramarital affair involving a dude who didn’t really have any strong loyalties to him because he just hates America that much would be devastatingly wrong about just who would get burned by this story?

  67. Anonymous:

    are you sure you don’t mean Turner and Hooch?

  68. Manta:

    Again, I think you are mixing up Kelly & Broadwell:
    Synopisis of today’s episode:
    B. is P.’ lover
    K. is P.’s friend (and maybe A.’s lover?)
    B. writes to K. threatening letters.
    K. goes to FBI.
    Hilarity ensues.

  69. Manta:

    And to spy on them: and P. got spied for fucking.
    Karma is a bitch!

  70. mark f:

    I hope so. The last thing I want Shirtless Agent to have is that killer minivan.

  71. Richard:

    Good summary

  72. Manta:

    So, you are saying that for once what the FBI did was legal?

    That’s an unexpected twist!

  73. AAB:

    In the 4th Amendment context, even Scalia agrees that it the provision has to be read in light of technological changes. See Kyllo v. United States, for example (search of a home using thermal imaging).

  74. Njorl:

    They would not be classified in general, but might be considered “sensitive”. Itineraries for work related travel probably are “For official use only (FOUO)”, at least until after the travel is completed. If the emails were about one individual, it could be assumed to be a personal contact of that individual not bound by any agreement to keep the information private. With many individuals’ travel plans compromised, the likelihood that someone was violating an employment agreement or a contract increased significantly.

  75. Richard:

    I think the supposition of hacking might relate to the way in which Broadwell and Petraeus reportedly exchanged e-mail messages. Not wanting to leave an email trail (presumably because they are both married), they set up a joint email account and left messages in the “draft” file. When the other party read the message, that party erased it. Petraeus and Broadwell believed there would be no record of the emails because they were never sent but, presumably, the FBI was able to retrieve the messages.

  76. John:

    An extra-marital affair leaves someone open to blackmail, which you don’t want in the intelligence field.

    I think it’s reasonable to expect that a CIA head should, at the very least, be super, super discreet if they’re going to cheat on their wife. Someone who cheats on his wife with his biographer, who then starts sending vaguely threatening anonymous emails to a third woman, probably shouldn’t be running our main intelligence service.

  77. Dave Petraeus:

    Good, now I can lay low while everyone’s focused on Allen….

  78. George W. Bush:

    I’ve got a guest room all set up for ya, bud

  79. FridayNext:

    Kind of late in the thread, but I just read an article in the Post about Broadwell’s ghostwriter.

    What is a PhD candidate doing with a ghostwriter when she is writing about her dissertation topic. (though not, admittedly, her dissertation)

    I’m a PhD candidate. Can I get a ghostwriter?

  80. John:

    Well, “professional social liaison” sounds like a euphemism for “high class prostitute.” So I guess an unpaid social liaison is like an amateur escort?

  81. John:

    I would assume “because she is a terrible writer.” The whole thing is ridiculous, though.

  82. rea:

    groupie?

  83. Uncle Ebeneezer:

    Plus there’s the font size to consider. I’m guessing they used Wing Dings primarily for security purposes.

  84. Njorl:

    Agreed. It has taken almost five centuries of common people using the language sensibly to correct the ridiculous translation mistake that resulted in “begs the question” in the first place. There should be no tolerance for people who stand in the way.

    If people don’t like the way the phrase is used now, I have another suggestion. “Begs the question” can mean enshrinement of original academic error which gets repeated and maintained due to stubbornness of academics who don’t like to be appropriately corrected by those with less learning.

  85. Scott Lemieux:

    I’m not sure why everyone thinks that the only privacy interest involved here is Petraeus’s.

  86. Lindsay Beyerstein:

    So, Kelley turns over some mean anonymous emails to the FBI and the FBI traces them back to a gmail account. It sounds like they proceeded to look inside the gmail account.

    Did they need a warrant to look inside the account? Did they get one?

  87. Scott Lemieux:

    The standards of writing for a PhD dissertation and a book on a trade press are, of course, not remotely the same. As a quick browse through any academic journal will confirm, expertise and the ability to write good prose are only accidentally cojoined.

  88. Njorl:

    We really do need a federal concubine corps of dedicated and discreet individuals of all combinations of sex and sexual orientation.

  89. CaptBackslap:

    How are such smart people so terrible at having affairs? Does no one listen to Tech-n9ne? Does no one listen to Too $hort?

  90. NonyNony:

    expertise and the ability to write good prose are only accidentally cojoined.

    This. No matter what PhD academics who insist that they “write for a living” so they “know how to write” may think, they do not all actually have the skill to write for a general audience. (And many of them don’t have the skill to write for their target audience either, but that’s another complaint).

  91. Anonymous:

    He’s the real victim here, obviously.

  92. greylocks:

    That would still be a civil matter, not a criminal one.

  93. cpinva:

    by golly, you may be on to something there!

    I know! What a utopia that would be.

    except, of course, for that pesky UCMJ. this would be the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which all military personel fall under. adultery is still a prosecutable offense under it, which means you are subject to court martial, etc, etc.

    this is so, for two basic reasons:

    1. morale/unit cohesion: the guy who’s supposed to be covering your ass, and the unit’s rear, might be less than enthusiastic, if you’re banging his wife. he/she might be less than attentive to their duties, if they’re upset about their spouse being banged by a fellow soldier/sailor/marine/airman.

    2. it potentially makes you subject to blackmail. the KGB was famous for this, during the cold war. in fact, a couple of the marine guards, stationed at the US pavilion, during Expo 67, in montreal, ended up in trouble, because they hooked up with soviet spies, who were connected to the USSR pavilion (both were very cool pavilions, i saw them in person).

    being retired won’t get you out of being prosecuted, you can be called back to active service, through JAG, if they feel it’s a serious enough offense.

    depending on when the affair began, both petraus & broadwell could conceivably be prosecuted, since she was also a commissioned officer.

    while adultery clearly isn’t prosecutable, by itself, under the constitution, you agree to give up certain of those rights, when you take the oath.

    FBI special agent “horndog” may also find himself in trouble with the firm, for similar reasons.

  94. Sharon:

    It’s looking that way isn’t it.

    Their fake cover-up took out one of their heroes.

  95. rea:

    Well, if the target had been Democrat, I’d understand it. But Petreus? Why would Cantor and a rightwingnut FBI agent go after Petreus?

  96. mark f:

    I was joking. Knowing the “real” meaning of the phrase gives me a cheap way to feel superior several times a week.

  97. tucker:

    Think Bengazi. There was a CIA black house next to consulate. That was the target not the consulate. Think the ambassador, he was career state department not poltical. Important position most likely CIA or NSA. They knew he was there and he was the target.

    They knew about the affair since spring but they didn’t give a sh*t. But in investigating Libya they fould classified information on peoples schedules that’s when it became a problem. They gave him a choice, resign over the affair or we have a real problem. The wildcard was the FBI agent who screwed up the ongoing investigation and forced everyone’s hand.

    Just my theory.

  98. Manta:

    Let’s see whose else privacy was involved:
    1) the woman who called the FBI and
    2) the woman sending the threatening e-mails.

    Regarding 1) I am not sure, but if you call the FBI to investigate threatening e-mails, it’s quite normal that the FBI will read your e-mails: so, no points for that.

    Regarding 2), as explained by the anonymous sources, she was suspected of hacking Petraeus’s account: until they discovered that they were lover, the FBI had good reasons to investigate.

    Of course, I don’t believe much point 2), but it’s at least as well-sourced and credible as the story you are linking to.

  99. Richard:

    There are several privacy interests involved. I believe Petraeus waived his as director of the CIA (and probably signed explicit waivers as well). Kelley most probably waived hers when she went to the FBI and claimed that she was receiving anonymous electronic threats (since the FBI most likely told her they would have to examine all her electronic communications and she didn’t object). . Broadwell doesn’t have a privacy interest in the emails she sent to Kelly or in the emails she sent to Petraeus. With regard to a joint email account with Petraeus, she wouldn’t have a privacy interest in that given the fact that Petraeus had waived his interest (see above). She would have a privacy interest in the emails she sent to others and I don’t understand, as of yet, the argument that gave the FBI the right to look into those emails (if indeed that happened). Allen would have no privacy interest in his emails, either sent or received, as a result of his position and probably as a result of signed waivers.

  100. mark f:

    But if Obama wanted to fire Petraeus for Benghazi, and considering that Benghazi is a public “scandal,” wouldn’t he want some credit for firing Petraeus because of Benghazi?

  101. Manta:

    So, the FBI investigation was legal AND discovered an actual crime?

    Stranger and stranger!

  102. Pooh:

    Yeah that was kinda the euphemistic vibe I was getting too.

  103. Sherm:

    Except they weren’t investigating “adultery” when they started looking through the e-mails — they just happened to stumble upon it.

  104. tucker:

    No because it’s not just Benghazi. There is probably a lot of other embarrassing stuff they don’t want to come out. If they to lay blame, Obama wouldn’t been questioned for firing the “best General” since Lee. Remember the villagers thought he was a god.

  105. tucker:

    Embarassing meaning “national security” type information. If he was truly as reckless as it appears…

  106. Richard:

    I dont think Cantor did. From the reports I have read, Cantor reported what he heard from the FBI agent to FBI Director Mueller but not to anybody else (and not to Boehner or other members of Republican leadership). If true, this seems to be appropriate.

  107. Manta:

    True: they were looking into hacking, which is even a more legitimate target.

  108. Hogan:

    Unless it’s about contraception.

  109. Richard:

    All your electronic communications are fair game when you’re director of the CIA. If they reveal that your’e having an affair, when you’re still subject to the Uniform Code of Military Conduct which subjects you to court martial for adultery, you don’t have any claim of violated rights to stand on.

  110. Chatham:

    And have for decades, no less. The older meaning is seldom used – in fact, if I come across the older meaning 99% of the time it’s being used to complain about the newer meaning, not in its own right.

  111. Kurzleg:

    I do. Kelley was involved in providing “escorts” for high-ranking military personnel.

  112. Kurzleg:

    Me too. This might be why Broadwell “threatened” Kelley. Perhaps Kelley was being a bit too obvious around the base, though it’s not clear why Broadwell should care.

  113. Richard:

    Are there any reliable reports of this?

  114. SeanH:

    That would be a much better use of the three-letter acronym.

  115. NonyNony:

    Your theory requires me to believe that people in DC can get fired for incompetence rather than because they do something politically embarrassing.

    I’m afraid I can’t buy it. I don’t think that’s what happens in DC.

    Also too – there is no way that a cover-up like that stays covered up. Somebody whose ass got burned by the Director would leak something as payback. They wouldn’t let him “get away” with exiting like that.

    OTOH – I wouldn’t be surprised if Petraeus decided to drop his resignation letter on Obama as soon as possible once the election was over but before he had to go sit in front of Congress and give testimony about Benghazi. Because that sounds like the kind of thing a political ladder climber would do once they knew that their political career was effectively over.

  116. Richard:

    According to the WSJ, once they identified Broadwell as the sender of the anonymous emails, they got a warrant to monitor her email accounts (and in the course of examining emails pursuant to that warrant found out about the affair with Petraeus.

  117. herr doktor bimler:

    Generally if the NSA wants information about a US citizen they’ll ask GCHQ or another of the non-US members of the network to do it for them. And vice versa.

  118. Richard:

    And it appears they were doing it pursuant to a warrant (if the WSJ is to be believed). Although I think they were initially investigating threats and only found about the possible hacking as they continued their investigation under the warrant (but I could be wrong about that).

  119. Richard:

    Plus it appears they got a warrant for the examination of Broadwell’s emails

  120. Reasonable 4ce:

    And “Solyndra.” Don’t forget Solyndra!

  121. herr doktor bimler:

    I thought this was an interesting sidelight, from the ghost-writer who actually wrote Broadwell’s hagiographyof Petraeus:

    I certainly wasn’t alone. The unusually close relationship between subject and biographer was no secret by the time President Obama nominated Petraeus as CIA director in the summer of 2011 following his command year in Kabul. America’s most famous and heralded general had granted Broadwell extraordinary access for her book, “All In: The Education of General David Petraeus.” Nor has Broadwell done anything to hide this access or her great admiration of Petraeus since the book was published in January, describing him in terms that are, well, effusive.

    IOW, everyone* knew that someone who was supposedly an objective journalist was in fact a member of Petraeus’ staff as a Repairer of Reputations, his personal spin doctor. No-one saw anything untoward about this because, I suppose, it is normal behaviour for high-ranking military officers in the age of Embedded Journalmalism. They were only surprised when the figurative fluffing turned out to be literal.

    * Everyone who counted, anyway.

  122. herr doktor bimler:

    I think she was having too much fun in the field conducting research, while the ghostwriter “sat in my basement in Maryland and wrote what was virtually a real-time narrative fashioned from the torrent of e-mails, documents and interview transcripts Broadwell sent my way.”

  123. Rob in Buffalo:

    I had a clever post, tweaking you for misspelling conjoined in a sentence about deficient writing (it included a reference to big cojones), all queued up. But now I see that cojoin is actually a word, too.

    Damn you.

  124. Hob:

    My problem with this is thatthe new usage expresses a simpler idea that you can already say in other ways; the original meaning of “beg the question” refers to a different specific fallacy that really deserves to have its own term. It’s like if people started thinking that “squirrel” was a general term for all small animals, and now if you want to describe a squirrel to someone you have to say “the kind of squirrel that has a fluffy tail and runs up trees and eats acorns.”

  125. witless chum:

    Schnitzengrueben?

  126. AuRevoirGopher:

    Is it twoo what they say about you fou’ staw genewals, that you awe . . . how do you say . . . gifted? Oh, it’s twoo . . . it’s twoo!

  127. Scott Lemieux:

    threatening e-mails.

    Just in case anybody needs a lesson in the proper use of “begging the question,” this is a classic example.

    Given that the emails seem pretty clearly not to have been “threatening,” the whole edifice of your police state apoligism collapses.

  128. M. Bouffant:

    Rumsfeld paraphrased:
    “You cheat w/ the mistresses you have, not the mistresses you want.”

  129. Balu:

    Looking, unsuccessfully, for her dissertation. Book based on dissertation (right?)? Odd though that book had co-author if indeed based on her dissertation. (Did she complete the PhD?) These questions “beg an answer”!

  130. Sherm:

    And while I must concede that I have not been following the case very closely, I can’t help but be reminded of the justice department investigating Clinton before he had allegedly committed perjury.

  131. Hogan:

    Can’t you see she’s tired?!

  132. Balu:

    Where is her dissertation? Has it been embargoed? A check of ProQuest shows the most recent doctoral dissertation by author with last name of “Broadwell” (first name NOT Pamela, and PhD not from Harvard). The diss title: “Swashbucklers on Stage: Musical Depictions of Pirates and Bandits in English Theater, 1650–1820.” Hmm, maybe a metaphor for the “scandal”.

  133. Hogan:

    I think it was more book based on research done for dissertation.

  134. Hogan:

    the original meaning of “beg the question” refers to a different specific fallacy that really deserves to have its own term.

    Circular reasoning?

  135. Hogan:

    Maybe she hasn’t written it yet. (And at this point, maybe she never will.)

  136. Balu:

    The intertubes does provide information when one searches. From Broadwell’s Penguin Press’ “Speakers Bureau” bio: “Paula Broadwell is a research associate at Harvard University’s Center for Public Leadership and a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of War Studies, King’s College London.” Why does nearly every news story report Harvard PhD (when it is actually M.A.).

  137. Malaclypse:

    Knowing the “real” meaning of the phrase gives me a cheap way to feel superior several times a week.

    Irregardless of that, you should not be feeling smug.

  138. Kurzleg:

    Not that I know of.

  139. Downpuppy:

    DNI James “Dit” Clapper gave Petraeus the message that it was time to resign.

  140. John:

    The fact that an author that nobody has ever heard of before employs a ghost writer is an enormous red flag in and of itself.

    Why was someone who cannot write being given this amount of access? If Loeb was going to actually write the book, why not just give him the access?

  141. Hogan:

    Now you’re just painting the lily.

  142. mark f:

    For all intensive purposes I will remain self-satisfied.

  143. herr doktor bimler:

    Petraeus confidants thought it strange, given her lack of writing experience. ”I sensed she was very ambitious,” says retired Army Col. Pete Mansoor, who served as Petraeus’ executive officer in Baghdad. Broadwell interviewed Mansoor for her biography, All In: The Education of General David Petraeus, and it left Mansoor puzzled. “I never told General Petraeus this, but I thought it was fairly strange that he would give so much access to someone who had never written a book before,”
    – Or, as it proves, has not written a book yet either.

    Sounds like the entire press establishment knew that the book was bullshit… certainly the Washington Post did, as one of their editors was moonlighting as the ghostwriter.

    They knew that the circle of information-management around Petraeus was tightly incestuous to the point that Broadwell was controlling his interaction with other reporters. But they saw no reason to share this datum with their paying audience.

  144. Anonymous:

    Or consenting adults could just choose to fuck who they want, any old time they want, without the pesky ethical dilemma of government-contracted “sex workers.” I know you dudes are just itching to gab about prostitution, but there’s a simpler course of action.

  145. Linnaeus:

    There’s an interesting discussion about this by linguist Mark Liberman, which you can read here.

    Liberman’s recommendation is to avoid using the phrase “beg(ging) the question” entirely, no matter which sense you mean. He suggests “assuming the conclusion” if you want to refer to the logical fallacy and “raise the question” if you mean a question that is implied or suggested.

  146. LosGatosCA:

    That works, too.

  147. LosGatosCA:

    It’s too bad for Petraeus that Broadwell wasn’t learning to fly airplanes in Arizona or a friend of a terrorist like Moussaoui, then all investigations would have gone nowhere.

  148. Linnaeus:

    Yeah, that’s what it looks like to me. I haven’t seen Broadwell referred to as anything other than a Ph.D. candidate, which means she hasn’t defended, unless that information is out of date. I’ve also seen reports about Broadwell in which people who know her say she told them that after the book was out that she was going back to her dissertation to finish it. Granted, that was a while ago, but it’s not unreasonable to think that she hasn’t yet finished it.

    Though, as I’ve mentioned before, I would think her committee would raise a few objections about the scholarly integrity of the dissertation, given that she had an affair with the subject of her dissertation.

  149. Arouet:

    Sorry, but in my eyes this is absolutely related to your clearance, background check, and other things. If you are participating in an adulterous relationship, you are open to blackmail. At the very least, people within the CIA and the Obama administration needed to be advised of this so they could judge the risk to sensitive information. Having your CIA chief sleeping around behind his wife’s back is absolutely a national security threat of the highest order.

    Now, that has little to do with the question of whether, once the information was public, he need have resigned. I don’t think it was necessary, but I also think it was a personal decision.

  150. Manta:

    “Pretty clearly”? Both the woman who called the FBI and the FBI found them threatening enough.

    Anyhow, points 1 & 2 stand even if you substitute “mails that seemed threatening”: the FBI was called to investigate, and discovered what seemed hacking of P. account.

    But, please, do continue to defend the privacy of a biographer who fucked with the subject of her biography, while pretending to be objective: she absolutely does not deserve to have her reputation destroyed.
    And do that by relaying on anonymous sources: it’s not as if they would have any reason to smear the people who investigated P.

  151. somethingblue:

    I think the technical term is “camp follower.”

  152. advocatethis:

    Much the way some people say “coke” to refer to any cola or even soda, and “monkey” to refer to any ape.

    Man, I hate that.

  153. Richard:

    And this just in on Ms. Kelley. You couldn’t make this stuff up:

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/2012/11/just_gets_better_and_better.php?ref=fpblg

  154. Warren Terra:

    You can see how she was such a lunatic that she called in the FBI regarding some emails that – according to what I’ve read elsewhere – did not constitute actionable threats.

  155. Richard:

    I agree that the emails didn’t constitute a crime. But the emails were pretty weird and anonymous (and did appear to come from somebody who knew who she was and what she was doing). I could see why she would be concerned at receiving them and why she would report them to someone she knew in the FBI.

  156. sapient:

    She has no privacy interest in emails she sent to other people. Once you send mail, you don’t have privacy right to it anymore. Copyright, yes. Privacy right, no.

  157. LosGatosCA:

    Looks like her 911 call certifies her lunacy:

    “I’m an honorary consul general, so I have inviolability, so they should not be able to cross my property,” she told the 911 operator. “I don’t know if you want to get diplomatic protection involved as well, because that’s against the law to cross my property because, you know, it’s inviolable.”

    “Ok, no problem, I’ll let the officer know,” the 911 operator responded.

    And her twin:

    “The generals’ letters to the court — written in the past two months — supported a motion to overturn a ruling made nearly a year earlier by a judge who resoundingly denied custody to Khawam, because of serious reservations about her honesty and mental stability, court records show.

    The father, Grayson Wolfe, was unable to see the child for more than a year, according to court documents. The judge overseeing the case cited Khawam with “outrageous conduct,” “bad faith litigation tactics,” and “illogical thinking,” awarding full custody to the father and socking the mom with $350,000 in legal fees in 2011.”

    Wow. And these guys are writing letters and sharing email accounts.

  158. LosGatosCA:

    Plus the charity.

  159. LFC:

    I read the Glenn Greenwald column (or most of it) that Scott Lemieux links and then I looked at the first ten or fifteen or so comments in the Guardian comment thread attached to Greenwald’s column.

    That Guardian comment thread is something else. Right off the bat — conspiracy theories, nonsense, and some idiot asserting that “ethics has not been taught in universities for 100 years” or something to that effect. What rocks do these Guardian commenters crawl out from under? (Note: I haven’t really read this comment thread but I’m assuming it’s within the usual fairly sane bounds that obtain here.)

  160. LFC:

    i haven’t seen the phrase “honorary consul” since reading the Graham Greene novel of that name decades ago.

  161. DocAmazing:

    All your base instincts belong to us.

  162. Chad:

    What means reliable…?

  163. RhZ:

    Or drug sniffing dogs.

  164. Holden Pattern:

    If true, this seems to be appropriate.

    Which fascinates, given Cantor’s wingnutty bonafides. “Appropriate” is not so much in that behavioral DNA.

  165. Hogan:

    Jane Mayer suggests that Cantor called Mueller not because he didn’t think the FBI director would be aware of the investigation (which would be unlikely), but to let him know that House Republicans were aware of it and had, shall we way, certain expectations.

  166. Hogan:

    unaware. also, duh. too many negatives

  167. Chad:

    Someone who socially liases for free.

    Is that anythihg like “leases” ?

  168. leinad:

    Guardian comments threads have always been a swirling pit of joyless, bitter cranks. For misanthropists only.

  169. NonyNony:

    Newspaper comment threads in general are a swirling pit of joyless bitter cranks. It’s given me some insight into how much “gatekeeping” newspaper editors have done over the years with their letters to the editor.

  170. leinad:

    I’ll defend the Guardian commenters from that comparison: they’re a superior pack of joyless fanatics, both in style and imaginative range of their dismal monomania.

  171. leinad:

    and this despite multiple attempts by CiF editors to generate something resembling a civil discussion forum.

  172. Toe:

    Old time bureaucrating

  173. Nigel Holmes:

    I think most of the times I’ve seen “beg the question” “misused”, the usage still showed awareness that the phrase refers to the logical fallacy: “begs the question how do we know x in the first place” is quite common.

  174. Guest:

    You were right the first time.

  175. ironic irony:

    Do you really think they’d call Petraeus back to active duty over this? A four-star???

    I’d be shocked to see it. Stuff like that is for the enlisted, not for the big wigs. We shall see, though!

  176. Halloween Jack:

    I bet that Anthony Weiner feels a bit better about his own little indiscretion, at least.

  177. Halloween Jack:

    So the domestic security agency responsible for being on the cutting edge of criminal investigation in the 21st century has about the same amount of cyber-savvy as the elderly aunt who clogs up my Facebook feed every day with dozens of pictures of puppies and piety. Got it.

  178. Popeye:

    No, they still love these guys. They’re just idiots.

  179. ironic irony:

    I’m gonna go with “tag chaser.”

  180. RedSquareBear:

    If there was going to have been an Eisenhower-type rehabilitation of the GOP, Petraeus would have been on my shortlist of Ikes.

    Powell would have been on it a decade ago but that ship has pretty well pulled out of the station and crashed into the mountain.

  181. RedSquareBear:

    Could you say that these binders would be…

    Full of women?

  182. RedSquareBear:

    In this parade of pedantry I’m going to get mine in:

    Surely it’s actually-actually an A.M., right?

    (And why does Harvard but the A before the degree-level? Anyone?)

  183. The Librarian:

    Much the way some people say “coke” to refer to any cola or even soda, and “monkey” to refer to any ape.

    Oook! OOOOK! OOOK! EEEK!

  184. The Librarian:

    No matter what PhD academics who insist that they “write for a living” so they “know how to write” may think, they do not all actually have the skill to write for a general audience.

    Exactly – makes about as much sense as a trucker saying “I drive for a living, of course I can manage Formula 1″.

  185. Freak Nasty Friday, #71 « The Shortest Road:

    [...] The real scandal in the Petraeus affair is the privacy overreach from the FBI. [...]

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