Home / General / The Surge’s General

The Surge’s General


Gen. and Broadwell

Gen and Kelley

For P4, as Petraeus is known in military circles, this is about the fourth high-profile book he has collaborated on. He debuted on the literary scene as a young general “coming of age” during the 2003 invasion of Iraq in Rick Atkinson’s In The Company of Soldiers. (“Petraeus kept me at his elbow virtually all day, every day,” writes Atkinson.) He reappeared as a brilliant strategist in a 2008 snoozer called Tell Me How This Ends by Linda Robinson. (Soon after publishing the book, Robinson, a reporter for U.S. News and World Report, went on to take a job working for Petraeus as an analyst at the U.S. Central Command.) Then, retired journalist turned military blogger Tom Ricks thoroughly lionized him in the highly readable and on-the-knees-admiring The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, which credits the general’s “surge” strategy with turning that war around. Three for three.

Broadwell’s contribution to the genre started brewing after she met Petraeus at the Harvard Kennedy School of government in 2006, while getting her master’s degree. As she recalls in her book’s preface, the two hit it off, the general viewing Broadwell as “an aspiring soldier-scholar.” Both were West Point grads, sharing interests in counterinsurgency and counterterrorism. They soon started emailing. “I took full advantage of his open-door policy to seek insight and share perspectives,” she writes. In 2008, Broadwell began her doctoral dissertation, “a case study of General Petraeus’s leadership.” After President Obama picked Petraeus, in June 2010, to take over the war in Afghanistan, she decided to turn the dissertation into a book. Petraeus invited her to Kabul, where she would spend several months “observing Petraeus and his team” and conducting “numerous interviews and email exchanges with Petraeus and his inner circle.”

The result is a work of fan fiction so fawning that not even Max Boot – a Petraeus buddy and Pentagon sock puppet – could bring himself to rave about it, grouching in The Wall Street Journal about All In’s “lack of independent perspective” and the authors’ tendency to skirt conflict. (Boot, the hackiest of the neocon hacks, is now an advisor to Mitt Romney.)

The saga, which would ultimately end the public service career of one of the most respected military minds of this generation, began when harassing emails were sent to Kelley, who in turn, notified the FBI.

The emails were traced to Broadwell’s inbox, where investigators are said to have found intimate emails that indicated Petraeus was having an extramarital affair with his biographer.

Investigators uncovered no compromising of classified information or criminal activity, sources familiar with the probe said, adding that all that was found was a lot of “human drama.”

Clearly, Gen. Petraeus does not avoid women. Nor does he deny them his essence.

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  • tonycpsu

    I can’t figure out what sort of advantage Eric Cantor thought he would get by being associated with Petraeus’ downfall. And why would an FBI agent jeopardize their career by blabbing about it to Cantor’s staff after being pulled off the case?

    • There’s no such thing a s bad pub.

      Plus, he’s put Boehner on notice – ‘I own the eye in the FBI, so don’t try anything stupid with me.’

  • cpinva

    i can’t figure out how this woman passed her psych evals, to gain entrance to west point, much less not get booted out of the army? clearly, she has emotional issues, which should have automatically disqualified her for a commission. so, the question needs to be asked, who else has she been boinking, and for how long?

    • tonycpsu

      Please to not be letting this get into slut-shaming. Otherwise-rational people get into extramarital affairs all the time when desire takes over. Obviously when it gets to the “sending threatening emails to government officials” stage it’s a sign of psychological trouble, but that does not mean she was always a nut, slept her way to the top, or anything else.

      • Tehanu

        Thank you! I’m all for criticizing Broadwell on grounds of bad journalism, and Petraeus on grounds of setting himself up as a blackmail target, but NOT — for either one of them — on grounds of having sexual feelings (or failings). If Petraeus should have resigned, it should have been for fucking up Afghanistan, not his girlfriend.

        • Scott Lemieux

          I just read a doozy of slut-shaming Bradwell that I should probably blog. She “got her claws” into Petraeus, doncha know.

          • Personally, if they didn’t apprehend her in her running suit doing a solo mega-marathon down to Tampa from NC wearing DependZ, I don’t think there’s much going on that’s unusual.

          • Hogan

            Obviously the guy who commanded the 101st Fucking Airborne in fucking combat in Iraq had no chance against the wiles of Pauline Whoever. Cuz bitchez.

            • Right.

              Men are totally helpless creatures when it comes to…you know…THAT.

              There’s just nothing they can do about it. NOTHING!

              But women, now…It’s the source of all their evil. They USE it, oh yes they do. Deliberately, and with malice aforethought.

              It’s why the world is going to hell, you know, the perfidy of women when it comes to…THAT.

              • There are only two rules on relationships:

                1. In committed heterosexual relationships, it’s always the man’s fault.

                2. In illicit heterosexual relationships (anything not committed), it’s always the slut’s woman’s fault.

                Granted, there is often confusion for men at times which type of heterosexual relationship they are in, but they can always get clarification from the woman, the official arbiter in all relationships.

                It’s usually at this point of clarification that a man may find himself in more than one committed relationship which was not his good faith intent and he’s likely helpless to deal with it effectively, because, after all, he’s just a man. And one who has been misled at that. Since he thought it was just some meaningless, harmless fun with no consequences, like hanging out the bowling alley with the buddies – but with sex, too.

      • cpinva

        clearly, you have no clue what you’re rambling on incoherently about, if that’s what you got out of my post. go back, read it again, slowly. or, if necessary, find a smart person, have them read it, and then explain it to you.

        as i noted elsewhere, the gen. made the mistake of having an affair, with someone not his wife, who, at some point, forgot that she is not his wife. it was at that point, that she started sending the emails (that eventually outed both of them), castigating another women, who she believed was also interested in the gen. this is a clear sign of emotianal/mental instability, and should have been caught very early on, when she took the physical for west point.

        it’s the standard physical that everyone attempting to enter the military takes (i took it at AFEES, in baltimore), which includes a psychological evaluation, to make sure (as much as possible), that they don’t let in people who will be a danger to their comrades, or commit war crimes. this is the same psych eval that allowed alan west in, and shouldn’t have.

        “slut shaming” has nothing to do with it, nor did i imply any such thing. that came out of your brain, so i think it’s your issue, not mine.

        • tonycpsu

          So the psych eval was going to determine “who else she had been boinking”? There’s no reason to believe she was boinking anyone else, and her behavior in going after another woman so strongly strongly suggests that she was very attached to Petraeus.

          Besides, if Bradley Manning was able to get as far as he did without getting booted, I don’t think that a psych eval discovering someone who’s going to go on to commit adultery some day is a realistic expectation.

          • Anonymous

            Is that a crack at Manning being trans*? ‘Cos that’s not helping, dude.

            • I think maybe it’s a reference to Manning leaking state secrets, but what do I know.

              • Anonymous

                Psychological evaluations will predict that somebody’s likely to grass?

                Try harder.

            • tonycpsu

              Don’t be ridiculous. I’m talking about his lashing out at peers, superiors, etc. which led to his demotion, etc.

              • Anonymous

                I never normally go so far as to stoop to acronyms, but LOL to everything you’ve said in this post, dude. A hearty LOL in your direction.

            • timb

              not to mention, as an enlisted man, Manning never attended West Point

        • Julian

          “this is a clear sign of emotianal/mental instability, and should have been caught very early on, when she took the physical for west point.”

          Of course, if she developed the instability you allege after she took the physical, you’re wrong.

          Also, is it just me, or is a “physical” probably not intended to catch “mental” instability?

          Do west point cadets take a psych exam?

        • catclub

          So Allen West took this same battery of tests?
          And they did not throw him out on his ass.
          How about General Boykin?

          It seems to me that if she is a West point grad and is now 39, then this psych eval was 20 years ago. Is that correct?

          • But psych tests administered at 17/18 can detect future emotional instability or even just bad judgment 22 years in the future.

            In fact, if a whole battery of psychological tests are administered, Nate Silver can deduce the odds of extra-marital affairs with 95% confidence and the cross-tabs will show the likelihood of drunk dialing your ex-lover, emailing your ex-lovers might-be successor girlfriends, or in the case of TeaBaggers drunk dialing ex-employees your husband may have sexually harrassed.

            It’s all very scientific.

            • Scott Lemieux

              I’m pretty sure that this math will also show that affairs aren’t the result of psychological problems so long as you have a penis.

              • You said it so much better (and more succinctly) than I did.

              • Make that a white penis that goes to church, please.

          • Timb

            Allen West was commissioned after finishing an ROTC program. He did not attend West Point

        • timb

          a psych eval at age 18 should be able to predict her behavior at age 40?

          Not only were you slut shaming, you have no ideas what psyche evals can do.

          Besides, where’s the criticism of gen p’s evaluation? Since, as Fred Kaplan has noted, he liked to enforce regs on fidelity?

  • So what are people’s theories on a) why the harassing emails were sent to Kelley and b) why Cantor got entangled in this?

    • Paul Campos

      As to (a) it’s very common for people who are cheating on their partners to become paranoid about being cheated on themselves.

      • Adrian Luca

        Exactly. Look at Ayn Rand’s reaction when the married guy she was boinking decided to move further afield.

    • tonycpsu

      I asked these same questions, but with a farless hilarious pseudonym.

      • *hat tip*

        I also think Sam Bacile – the guy behind “The Innocence of Muslims” and known Illuminati affiliate – orchestrated Benghazi and, disguised as Broadwell, seduced Petraeus…

        • tonycpsu

          Wasn’t looking for a hat-tip, more of a “me too” and a tip of my own hat for the awesome nickname.

          I find your Bacile theory intriguing, and wish to subscribe to your newsletter. But surely this goes all the way up to the top, by which I mean ACORN, right?

          • James O’Keefe

            I have incriminating video that I’ll share exclusively with Steve Doocy tomorrow. Bacile is a known New Black Panther.

  • Davis X. Machina

    Was reading (actually listening to, during a commute) What Hath God Wrought and Battle Cry of Freedom this summer.

    From Jackson to Cass to Taylor to Harrison to right down to Wesley Clark, and apologies to whomever I left out, there’s always been a hankering to make generals presidents, afoot since the earliest days of the Republic, and affecting all parties….

    It’s a wonder we’ve dodged a man on a white horse for so long.

    • Davis X. Machina

      Aargh. Haven’t properly closed a tag all day. I should just let the buttons do it.

      • catclub

        That sounds like a euphemism.
        Navy pants still have buttons, right?

    • catclub

      apologies to whomever I left out

      Grant, Eisenhower, MacArthur, McClellan, Washington

      Smedley Butler?

    • Well, we DID like Ike.

    • herr doktor bimler

      It’s a wonder we’ve dodged a man on a white horse for so long.

      Isn’t that a Clint Eastwood movie?

      • JoyfulA

        Isn’t the White Horse supposed to be Mitt Romney?

        • Pseudonym

          Are you referring to the White and Delightsome Dancing Horse Prophecy?

    • Warren Terra

      It is a stain upon the honor of this blog, noted for its Battleship Blogging, that this subthread about clamorings for American military leaders to seek the Presidency does not already invoke Admiral George Dewey, of Battle Of Manila Bay fame.

      I need hardly add that old’ George had a very solid mustache.

  • herr doktor bimler

    I am wondering how Petraeus received his security clearance when he was already embedded with a journalist. Do they no longer bother for political appointments?
    Also wondering how Petraeus thought he was in a position to accept the job and enforce the “no sleeping with journalists” rule upon his underlings.

    “Believing one’s own bullshit” is becoming a recurring theme in current US politics.

    • tonycpsu

      He would have already had most of the necessary clearances from his Army days — at worst, they would have just read him into a CIA-specific compartment or two, which would not have necessitated an extensive background check. Not to mention that the background check would have been unlikely to discover his schtuppage unless he had shared it with very loose-lipped people on his reference list.

    • Warren Terra

      Do we even know what clearances are necessary? He was nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. And as I recall from the Valerie Plama contretemps, the whim of the President trumps all classification.

      • tonycpsu

        Everyone who accesses classified material up to and including the President has to possess the relevant security clearance. Obviously the President just gets one and I don’t think he can have it taken away, but Petraeus would need one, and could have it taken away.

  • As I was reading the linked article, I heard ‘nudge, nudge, wink, wink’ at several points.

    It’s me. I know.

  • James O’Keefe

    I have incriminating video that I’ll share exclusively with Steve Doocy tomorrow. Bacile is a known New Black Panther.

    • Warren Terra

      I’m getting confused. Isn’t Bacile a victim of jackbooted Obama brownshirts?

      (seriously, this was a Winger meme when the khaki-clad state troopers showed up at his house to ask him about his violating his terms of parole)

      Also, of course, Islamofascism.

  • Leeds man


    Isn’t that standard American treatment of generals, unless they lie about WMD or something? OK, Jon Stewart and Lara Logan may not be representative.

    • Pestilence

      Yes: they’re also apparently universally lauded as brilliant strategists and leaders of men, with as little cause for it as Petraeus.

  • Nor does he deny them his essence

    But is it pure?

  • Anderson

    Without further evidence of a romantic liaison, I’d be slow to assume Ricks got on his knees in front of Petraeus.

    • avattoir

      Looking at Ricks, the wonder would be as to how he’d ever get down … or up again.

  • The thing about Petraeus is that he’s involved with 2 women without much judgment. Broadwell is obviously not seeing straight and the other woman can’t be too bright if she didn’t realize this would be very embarrassing for Petraeus. Of course that would be harsh on her if she already went to him and he denied anything or said he would take care of it and didn’t.

    In almost all variations Petraeus does not look too swift on handling these situations.

    You can say though that he does have way better taste than Bill Clinton.

    • catclub

      so why did cpinva ask about the woman’s psych evals, but not his?

      • Because the psych evals don’t work on men nearly as well.

        The answers show little variation in men’s character

        And they expire after 25 years, Petraeus is 60.

        It’s all scientifically based.

      • Because women are always the source of the problem! I told you the facts about men’s inherent helplessness in a post above. Try to keep up!

        It’s precious that anyone thinks that official psychological evaluations of women would ever uncover anything “crazy” about their standard modus operandi. Hell, most of those psychological test are WRITTEN by women! Just look how much more often they show that men are crazy!

        This is why people who know the truth only ask about the woman in situations like this: Paula used her infallible sexual wiles to trap the general in a web he couldn’t escape! She USED him, turned him into a gibbering wreck, and then when she didn’t need him any more, she got rid of him.

        But, see, women are power-mad, and they like to maintain their control even when they’re finished with a guy, so Paula didn’t want anyone else to have him, either, so….

        Certainly didn’t have anything to do with misguided LOVE or anything else that seems, you know, human. Because women aren’t.

        Therefore only men are forgivable when it comes to …THAT.

      • timb


    • mch

      Do we have any evidence yet that P was sexually involved with two women, with Jill Kelley as well as Broadwell? Perhaps we have evidence that Broadwell (who seems to have been distraught — is that so unusual under the circumstances, life being what it is?) thought P was involved (or considering involvement) with Ms. Kelley. Nothing more.

      Maybe he was, but maybe he wasn’t sexually involved with Kelley. Let’s wait for evidence before assuming anything, since Kelley’s “reputation” does matter — to her and her family, and it should also matter to us. (I feel like this whole discussion is the worst of high school.)

      • Warren Terra

        To be fair, it appears that Ms. Broadwell was not the most firmly hinged of people, and so could have erred factually in lashing out.

        • Anonymous

          There’s that ever-present Ms. thing happening again.

  • herr doktor bimler
  • Dave Patraeus

    Oh man, I can’t believe I got found out so easily! Well it looks like Paula and I will be spending our days at the Crawford ranch from here on out…

    • Dick Cheney

      I’ve got the couch already. Sleeping bags are in the gun room

      • slybrarian

        For some reason, the words “gun room” and “Dick Cheney” fill me with a sense of dread.

        • hubbardsmill
        • Just remember to wear your hockey goalie mask.

          Have your insurance paid up.

          And pre-write an apology to save time in the emergency room later.

  • jon

    It’s not the sex. It’s the breach of security and violation of Petraeus’ code of conduct. It’s also journanimalism at its finest. There may also be some power politics motivating this.

    Getting all ‘Somebody’s had some sexytime’ is to focus on exactly the wrong thing.

    • Don’t ruin the fun.

    • Warren Terra

      Yup. David Patreus could be doing consenting adults of all stripes two or three at a time for all I care, so long as he wasn’t leaking to them, it wasn’t taking him away from his duties too much, and he wasn’t liable to be blackmailed about it.

      • timb

        I never called on him to esign

  • asdf

    As funny as all these comments are – and there are some great ones! – nothing and I do mean nothing compares with the attempts over at NRO to tie this a Benghazi cover up.

    • herr doktor bimler

      Boing Boing commenter ‘SedanChair’ attempts to sum up the narrative:

      David Petraeus’ wife, a minion of Obama in the CFPB, was sent by Obama (in 1974) to sabotage Petraeus by marrying him, then withholding sex and also placing one of those mind-controlling bugs from The Wrath of Khan into his ear, forcing him to seek out strange pussy.

      For years, Petraeus manfully suppressed his urges, stoically enduring his sexless lot, until finally came the cauldron of Afghanistan. There, in the Swat valley, dodging gunfire, playing polo with tribal lords, he found a woman who truly understood him: a West Pointer, lithe, young, auburn-haired, caring in a way his frigid Obamanoid wife never was. Christ himself would have been unable to resist…

      And so Petraeus, unable simultaneously to endure the machinations of the Global Left, the biological imperative from his loins and the parasite shrieking PUSSY PUSSY PUSSY in his ear, finally gave in, and you’d better believe he was the most sensitive and giving lover in the history of adultery.

      Now the Global Left/Soros/Cloward-Piven/Eric Holder/Mau Mau endgame approaches. Get ready for CIA Director Dennis Kucinich.

      • asdf

        “CIA Director Dennis Kucinich”

        LOL. Best one yet. Thanks.

  • So are we all sure that Broadwell was threatening Kelley only because she is a crazy paranoid woman scorned who merely suspected Petraeus was interested in Kelley, or was she threatening Kelley because she KNEW Petraeus had already gotten himself involved?

    I suppose if Kelley was the one who blew the whistle, it was the former, because if she was guilty of actual involvement with General P, she wouldn’t want to blow the whistle on herself.

    One good thing…it takes Petraeus out of the running for 2016. I mean, IF it had crossed his or anyone else’s mind.

    • I hope they publish the emails.

      I think it’s in the public’s interest to see the source and make up their own minds on the facts about their true origin.

      Specifically, what really happened here? Which alternative applies:

      1. Did Obama trump this whole thing up, or
      2. Did Hillary trump this whole thing up, or
      3. Did Panetta trump this whole thing up, or
      4. Did Biden trump this whole thing up.

      If they don’t publish the emails we may never know who trumped this whole thing up.

      • avattoir

        Al-righty, then: TRUMP!

        • He’s looking for the long form email as we speak.

    • timb

      I was listening to a podcast taped on Friday and the genius wingnut editor of Washington Free Beacon announced the sudden resignation and the added that would shake up the 2016 race already.

      Nothing like a cock going off half-cocked

  • hubbardsmilk
  • LarsMacomb

    I wonder if any if this is in any way connected to those U. S. contractors in Afghanistan who, a couple of years ago, were discovered to be engaged in a ritual activity of drinking vodka out of one another’s asses.

    Would it be irresponsible to speculate? Hmmm. Yeah. I think it would be irresponsible not to.

  • Manju

    This casts doubt on all biographies. Even “Means of Ascent” will never be the same again.

    • The Dark Avenger

      Thanks for demonstrating once again you can’t tell sourced material from a hole in the ground, Manju.

      • Manju

        Well, Coke Stevenson was irresistible…so you can’t really blame Caro.

        • The Dark Avenger

          Except for the fact that Caro never had a sexual affair with LBJ, you’re right, Manju.

          • Manju

            O yeah!? Then explain this:


            I’m telling you, he got his claws in him. His reputation is unrecoverable, in my opinion.

            • The Dark Avenger

              You’re the expert on bungholes around here, Manju, I’ll grant you that.

              • Manju

                I just want to make sure no one slut shames Lady Bird Johnson.

                However, I’m open to the notion that Lyndon big bunghole was the work of Lady Byrd.

              • Manju

                Also, look on the bright side. This is one more thing LBJ has in common with Lincoln.

  • parsec

    All In.


  • herr doktor bimler

    Vis-a-vis that business of “depriving them his essence”, I always understood Gen. Ripper to referring to Taoist semen-retention technique. Just because he is ‘all in’, doesn’t mean that Petraeus isn’t following the same essence-depriving policy.

    • How positively Tantric.

      • herr doktor bimler

        ‘Tantra’ is not the plural of ‘tantrum’. I looked it up.

        • avattoir

          So … Ms. All In was expressing a tantric temper?

  • Jim Lynch

    The best that can be said of this all-too-human episode is that Americans have a absolute right to know the reasons why any high ranking official leaves their job, and it appears that’s what we’re getting.

  • J R in WV

    The generals all have very high sex drives, that’s just a fact of life. Men who wield life-and-death power over millions of other humans find that their whole bodies become sexually aroused most all the time.

    This physical arousal causes their mental faculties to become abstractly fuzzy, unable to think about anything but sexual passion.

    Then they become prey of the women who are aware of this syndrome – military academy graduates themselves, potential wielders of the power of life and death, they understand the web of power and sex that these powerful generals are prey to.

    It’s all so simple if you listen to the sermons of Oral Roberts, whose very name can being enlightenment to those of us who don’t have the gift of sacred illumination.

    • herr doktor bimler

      IIRC a similar argument was made in Night of the Generals.

    • O mi gaud, that is the most divinely hilarious thing I’ve read tonight.

      And people are writing some FUNNY shit.

  • Simple mInd

    Just what is an “unpaid” military/civilian social liaison, anyway? Sounds kinda Heisi Fleissy.

  • But what does Ann Althouse have to say about Jill Kelly’s cleavage?

  • Just what is an “unpaid” military/civilian social liaison, anyway?

    Somebody who LOVES to be in charge of parties.

    Somebody who has an “event planning” business on the side and uses the fact that she Does these big deal events as advertising/exposure.

    Somebody trying to get experience and credentials in PREPARATION for opening her own event planning shop.

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