If U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus was trying to keep his resignation as CIA director out of the headlines by revealing he had an extramarital affair on a Friday afternoon, he underestimated Beltway media and national gossip columnists.
Petraeus stepped down after a career that encompassed command of U.S. troops in both Afghanistan and Iraq. He was reportedly having an affair with his biographer. Even more salacious is the possibility that the apparent cuckold in this case previously wrote to an advice column in the New York Times.
Slate reported the general was having an affair with Paula Broadwell, the woman who co-wrote “All In: The Education of David Petraeus.” The book has been described as a “valentine” to Petraeus, and Broadwell has correspondended with him since they met during a Petraeus visit to Harvard University, where the biographer was studying. She was later embedded with him in Afghanistan and often spent time alone with the general, reportedly bonding during long exercise runs.
After President Barack Obama accepted Petraeus’ resignation -- it took him 24 hours to do so -- NBC News reported Broadwell has been under FBI investigation for seeking access to the general’s classified emails.
“An extramarital affair has significant implications for an official in a highly sensitive post, because it can open an official to blackmail,” the Wall Street Journal noted. “Security officials are sensitive to misuse of personal email accounts-not only official accounts-because there have been multiple instances of foreign hackers targeting personal emails.”
Adding fuel to the fire is the speculation by Gawker and others that Broadwell’s husband may have written a letter to the "The Ethicist" advice column, written by Chuck Klosterman for the New York Times. In a letter published July 13, the anonymous writer said his “wife is having an affair with a government executive [whose] role is to manage a project whose progress is seen worldwide as a demonstration of American leadership."
The anonymous writer added: “I have watched the affair intensify over the last year, and I have also benefited from his generosity. He is engaged in work that I am passionate about and is absolutely the right person for the job. I strongly feel that exposing the affair will create a major distraction that would adversely impact the success of an important effort.”
Gawker noted the intensification over the last year pointed to in the letter coincides with a timeline presented by the Wall Street Journal that detailed the alleged Broadwell/Petraeus affair.
If the current reports are true, Klosterman’s response at the time now seems less like advice and more like a prediction: “I halfway suspect you’re writing this letter because you want specific people to read this column and deduce who is involved and what’s really going on behind closed doors (without actually addressing the conflict in person). That’s not ethical, either.”