Last week, General David Petraeus resigned as director of the CIA after admitting to an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. The scandal has resulted in a media firestorm, with politicians asking why the White House wasn’t notified sooner and questioning whether Broadwell had access to classified information. Should General Petraeus have stepped down? We’ll get the latest on the scandal, and what it means for the Obama administration and the intelligence community.

Thomas Ricks, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, author of books including "The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-2008," senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security and contributing editor at Foreign Policy magazine. Ricks will be speaking tonight (Nov. 14) at the Marine Memorial Club at 6:30 pm and on Thursday (Nov. 15) at Book Passage in Corte Madera at 7 pm.
Scott Shane, reporter with The New York Times' Washington bureau
Jane Wales, president and CEO of the World Affairs Council and former senior director of the National Security Council

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    So many people are saying his sex life was a private situation, but these folks obviously have not been to a military academy such as West Point, where ones lifestyle is one where being true to oaths and pledges is paramount. Yes, General Petraeus started the affair after he had left the military, but being a General the code of conduct should have stayed with him.

    And as a woman I am livid at Ms. Broadwell who being a graduate of West Point, would dare ignore the code of conduct and then add insult to injury by hurting another woman, Mrs Petraeus. And as a woman I am livid that Ms. Broadwell would ignore the code of conduct and in turn hurt her husband.

    Aren’t feminists supposed to NOT want to hurt another woman, a ‘sister’? Is this why feminists fought to open up the military academies to women?

  • Hugh

    I am so sick of this story. Since when is having an affair more important that effectively managing the CIA, Pentagon, or military forces? Other countries are laughing at our priorities here. & the Taliban couldn’t have planned it better if they’d decided to recruit beautiful middle eastern expats to dispose of the top brass of our armed forces.

    Oh wait, that’s what’s actually happening? Ludicrous!

    Now the Republicans are going to try to somehow link this to President Obama, and the media (including NPR) is going to cover every last minute of it. (Just to prove they’re not liberal, they follow Fox News around like lemurs…).

    PS. Remember, just because the media says it’s relevant doesn’t mean it should be.

    • Carol

      I agree with you even though I know that infidelity causes a great deal of pain to the cheated-on partners. Americans’ prudish attitudes–while at the same time we have no problem with violence, and sex used in violent movies, etc.–are ridiculous, and I do know that other countries think we are nuts. I was in Poland and other countries during the Clinton impeachment process, and Europeans there simply could not believe that we would make such a huge, political fiasco out of extramarital affairs. I also think the Republicans must feel they’ve died and gone to heaven–not only the Ben Gazi so-called scandal but the Petraeus affair as well! Have they forgotten that Mr Petraeus is a Republican? That some have thought of him as a future Republican presidential candidate? But so what, right? when because it’s the Obama administration, Pres. Obama can be blamed for all of this.

  • Rhet

    It’s all fake. I don’t believe an affair is the real reason why Petreus is out. We live in a time of vast criminal scams perpetrated by banksters and the military industrial complex. (Remember Eisenhower’s warning?) To give credence to official claims about the Petreus scandal, which have been bouncing around the mainstream media echo chamber with hardly any critical analysis, would be willfully naive.

    A few weeks ago we were told that an anti-Muslim video had something to do the killing of the ambassador in Libya. Then we learned that the CIA leadership told our Marines a few miles away to not go and help and that the ambassador was involved in flying “good” Sunni terrorists into Turkey, from where they entered Syria to become the so-called “rebels”. No doubt Chris Stevens was purposely offed, and now Petreus is being purposely eliminated. These events represent a power shift.

    Show me a 10 year old who falls for this childish nonsense. I bet you can’t.

  • OldVet

    This is not about sex in my opinion. But about positioning. NeoCon and very political David Petraeus was a follower of the PENAC vision of let the biggest (military) hammer rule. Period. What was a NeoCon doing leading our Army in Afghanistan, and then our drone assassination squadrons out of the CIA? A major question.

    Do we have a Democratic administration, or is Cheney still in charge of the military. My distant sniff of this reek is that Petraeus was positioned for a Romney victory and now with Romney’s flame out, will position himself to run for president in 2016.

    My question is what is a NeoCon doing, running the military, and militarizing our secret agents( the CIA) in a Democratic administration?

    One uncle of mine fought in WWI, another stopped the fascists in WWII and I served during Viet Nam. From my viewpoint, neocons are fascists, and I believe we defeated them with force in WWII, and de-selected them in repudiating W, Rumsfeld et al.

    Watch David Petraeus get Huge speaking fees, and consult fees to set up private armies in how to deploy drones.

    I did not support Obama because he has had no control of the military. Nor Romney. The wonderful career of Leon Panetta crashed on the same shoals as did the previously honorable Colin Powell. As Ike said: the military- industrial – congressional complex is a danger to us all.

    Now, since Cheney has loosed the venom of this viper into the world of private contracting it will be nearly impossible to pull back into control.

    There are honorable military men. You will note they are in charge when justice is swift and …. just.

    • David Grace

      Well said. When I called I had hoped to raise the issue of Petraeus’ role in the black market that occurs in wars. The book “Catch 22” is still an important advisory to the people of America.

      • OldVet

        Thank you David. Did you ever note chapter 22 of Catch 22? It talks about selling eggs in Malta. and yes, we are in a drone boom. What goes around…. comes around. What mature soul thinks we won’t be assassinationville as the technology matures.

  • Steven

    This is the “Top Tier” of the “Military Industrial Complex” … has anyone done the math … a medium 25,000 emails for a generous 2.5 years equals 27 emails a day. Really?

  • Storm

    Admired Patraeus for a long time, but had he put national security at risk by embezzling or other “crime” no one would defend him, but when it’s a sexual matter, does this now become defensible because it’s “private”??? This is not rational – the blackmail risk to national security is the same. Some jobs are inherently public in their responsibility. Anyone who choses a job like Director of the CIA, or president of the US, with access to extremely important decisions and information choses to give up the right to anything in private life that puts them at risk for blackmail. They know this when they take the job. When confronted by his actions, Gen. Patraeus resigned because he knew he’d screwed up – Obviously Patreaus himself viewed his actions as having so seriously compromised his position that he resigned. He should never have put himself in a position which made him so vulnerable.

    • vicky friedman

      Finally, a thoughtful comment. OF COURSE affairs are not just harmless or merely private sexual peccadilloes when you are in such a sensitive and vulnerable position as POTUS or Director of the CIA (our Spying Agency!) or wartime General. Res ispa loquitor-look at the national security fallout here. What spectacular results are made possible for whomever has a motive-jealous mistress, foreign govts, Al Qaeda, political foes! Look at Clinton’s notorious scandal,resulting, among other things, in Gore losing the election and the world then at the mercy of the Bush Admin.(no, it was not Florida) Look at Mata Hari, the Profumo affair, the Guy Burgess affair, (Bond movies, if you don’t know history). In nearly every spy scandal scenario, REAL or fictional–sexual relationships are the ultimate access! DUH. For this reason the FBI had to investigate anonymous emails involving Petraeus and Allen, or leave themselves open to the same politically-motivated hue and cry charging so-called “FAILURE to act” ( Benghazi.) “Obama Admin. FBI cover-up” is the instant charge: it doesn’t matter whether they had/had not investigated. We don’t know the details, but nonetheless pundits and experts are even now questioning and second-guessing that investigation, including today’s guest, T. Ricks.
      (And Scott Shafer goes so far as to twice describe one of the women as “a social climber”. How did he come by that opinion? I haven’t heard her so-described anywhere else….)

      So, for those who yammer about rampant invasion of email, NSA excesses, privacy and privacy rights; those who say infidelity is merely private behavior and only we Puritanical Americans make a big deal about it…well, when you become a public figure, hold high office, when judgement or influence is within your power, then your behavior-who you sleep with, who you talk to, who you accept gifts from or give gifts/jobs/contracts/access to–these things are NOT just your private business, nor should they be!

      • Storm

        Well said – and I appreciate the research you’ve shown with your examples.

  • dman2010

    Who cares about the affair — seems to be larger issues here: clearly he is too public a figure for his staff to not know about this. If he lied during any CIA interviews prior to taking the job is his staff culpable? How could someone who has so many people around him have staff that did not know about the affair? How could the CIA in vetting him not find out about it either through his staff interviews or his own questioning (assume they give everyone a lie detector test like all other employees at CIA)?

  • pm05

    Does anyone consider that Mr Petreus wanted to resign… Maybe he cannot take the humiliation and keep working as head of the CIA. Maybe it is his decision alone to do this.

  • Someone should of said to the last caller that the comfort women were not there voluntarily. Men and women cheat and access is not the reason. Married men who live at home cheat.

  • $11165038

    I’m sorry but I find the “men will be men” excuse to be a poor one. It is used to excuse all manner of bad behavior and needs to be done away with and not used at all. I’m sorry but if you are high ranking military official shouldn’t your behavior be held to a higher standard than the average soldier?

    • Guest

      Yes. So long as ordinary soldiers are being punished for adultery, the leadership should be too. But maybe it’s time for the army to get rid of its ‘adultery is illegal’ rule. Once homosexuality was illegal in the army for simillar reasons: it was fodder for blackmail. Nowadays, adultery, like homosexuality, has less serious consequences (it used to be the only grounds for divorce in many states); if it’s legal for everyone in the army maybe it will be less fraught with fears over blackmail.

  • Is it possible that Paula Broadwell was set up with someone hacking her e-mail and sending those threatening messages to Ms. Kelley? I’m asking because Paula Broadwell stated at a public speaking engagement that the Benghazi attacks were directed at a secret CIA prison located at the site that was attacked. Of course the CIA denied her suggestion. But then the FBI found classified documents at her house that Petreaus says he did not give her. hmmmm:

  • chrisco

    Now come the Republicans. Losing the election and McCain is calling for a Watergate Commission into Benghazi, Congress is crying about a cover up of Petraeus etc. Here are Obama’s scandals and why he should be impeached apparently, Benghazi and Petraeus.

    • francisoc

      Sadly, Obama agrees with Republicans more than voters know. He just talks nice to geyt the votes. Obama is a phoney and it so sad for young people in this country.

  • Suzanne

    The use of the term “comfort women ” in comparison with Petraeus’ mistress is unfortunate. Comfort women were Chinese and Korean women forced to give sexual favors to the Japanese military against their will in the WW2 era. Not quite the same.

    • Guest

      Absolutely. Japanese committed a war crime by taking “comfort women.” The US army should never do that in any war. And visiting prostitutes in many desperately poor countries is only a little better, since the women have relatively little choice if they want to survive. When soldiers exploiting poor women in that way, often leaving them with illegitamate kids, they contribute to a poor image for the US.
      In Iraq & Afghanistan dating & prostituation with local women is forbidden to US personnel because those cultures are even more “puritanical” about extra marital sex than the US is alleged to be. Sex between non-Muslim men & Muslim women is illegal accroding to most interpretations of “Islamic law.” If there was much of it, it would be exploited by the anti-Western Islamist proganda mills to show how decadent “the infidels” are.
      Do the men need relief? Try masturbation.

  • I really hope that comment using WWII Japanese “Comfort Women” as an example is a misspoken moment. These “comfort women” were often taken from their homes and forced to sexually serve soldiers, not to mention that a lot of them were not Japanese– many of these raped women are Chinese and Koreans. Comparing an extramarital affair with “Comfort Women” is extremely disrespectful and not right.

    • Guest

      Agree %100.

  • It is alarming that so many people are willing to separate private actions from professional ones, and that people say men will be men, and he should not be judged for a lapse of judgment. It wasn’t a lapse of judgment but rather dozens or hundreds of lapses of judgments. If men will be men, should women serving abroad be having affairs too? If he is willing to break one vow, what other vows has he been willing to break? Lastly, they say, “after so many years of service to the country…” Petraeus was paid for every minute of that service and chose the profession. He signed up to be a public figure and an example to his fellow military men, he should have behaved like one.

  • Selostaja

    The separation of church and state is no longer clear in our political environment and many now feel justified to judge others by their own religious bias. Popular media is constantly bombarding us with the affairs of celebrities and now everyday people feel morally superior when they see the great fall.

  • erictremont

    It is really weird that adultery involving consenting adults is still a firing offense in the military while sexual assault in the military is still rampant yet not enough commanding officers are being held accountable for this egregious behavior.

  • Alix

    I’m really glad there are a number of critical comments about the disgusting and misogynistic “comfort women” suggestion. I wish that call had been challenged on-air. To the caller who seemed to be offering up other women (probably not herself) to sexually service men in the military – “comfort women” is a euphemistic term for girls and women who were sexually trafficked, held captive, and repeatedly raped by large numbers of men. Most died. This “men will be men” thing needs to be laid to rest. It’s a ready an excuse for rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment.

  • observer

    A good old American scandal, the fall from grace. Every red-blooded American loves this stuff that’s why the media in on it like a pack of wolves, including NPR. Another commenter noted that NPR has seemingly moved way to the political right, with lots of Heritage Foundation pundits and pointing out every scurrilous rumor or sound bite that dings the liberals. I have noticed that too and think it is related to the change of management at NPR over the last year and a move towards commercialization. Just an observation.

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