Political Animal


November 13, 2012 9:29 AM Sex and Benghazi! Benghazi!

By Ed Kilgore

So let’s get this straight: a woman who is a close friend of CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus and his wife triggers a FBI investigation of threatening emails from another woman, who is instantly found to have been engaged in an illicit sexual relationship with Petraeus, and apparently thought the first woman was a rival for the general’s favor, although the FBI almost instantly discovered the theoretically unrelated fact that said first woman had actually exchanged a few thousand “potentially inappropriate” emails with Petraeus’ successor to Petraeus in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen. None of these people are single or married to each other.

As the Obama administration tries to sort all this out (with an inevitable side-issue being the legendarily tense relationship between the FBI and CIA) and provide some continuity of direction to the CIA and the U.S. mission to Afghanistan (and to NATO, where Allen was slated to become Supreme Commander Europe), from the sidelines congressional Republicans and conservative gabbers, still under the influence of their post-election meds, are shrieking Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! just as they were before there was any issue with Petraeus. Everything, even illicit sex, it seems, is actually about Benghazi!

Wish I could say “I’ll just wait for the movie” about this convoluted situation, but doubt any of us will have that luxury.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on November 13, 2012 9:41 AM:

    First, my guess is that this might not have been the first time General Petreaus found a younger holster for his pistol.

    Second, who knew that West Point taught cadet's how to throw a "key party?" Or is that something they learn later on?

  • boatboy_srq on November 13, 2012 9:43 AM:

    Considering Petraeus was the GOP's man (that's GOP, pre-GOTea), I suppose the whole thing is just below the burkha.

    Captcha: scarcely layDon. How does Captcha always know?

  • T2 on November 13, 2012 9:44 AM:

    a bit off thread....but I love this quote from Paul Ryan about the election -
    " The numbers we were looking at looked like we stood a pretty good chance of winning,"
    This would be THE Paul Ryan....you know, the one with the Budget Plan the Republicans all voted for and championed...Maybe he's not the guy you want crunching numbers for you, GOPers.

  • BillFromPA on November 13, 2012 9:45 AM:

    What our side needs is a junkyard dog who would take this story, create the narrative that it's all a wingnut conspiracy centered around Eric Cantor who forced the issue on the public, then flog it to death.

  • jhm on November 13, 2012 9:57 AM:

    You forgot the part about the enterprising (and I believe as yet unnamed) young FBI agent who, apparently under the influence of one of the women in question, convinced the cyber crimes division to spend gods know how many hours, tracing these "threatening" emails, then taking the initiative to leak the affair (so to speak) to, of all people, the distinguished and Hon. Rep. Cantor.

  • martin on November 13, 2012 9:58 AM:

    Forget waiting for the movie, at the very least this is a Very Special Episode Ripped From The Headlines of Law & Order:SVU with crossover potential to NCIS and Bones. I bet there are 27 spec scripts in the works as I type this. Homeland can run a whole season off of this. This could give Burn Notice a reason to exist.

  • Ronald on November 13, 2012 10:05 AM:

    Yeah...I can see how the next couple of years are going to play out in the House...investigation after investigation once again and, once again, a lack of actual business getting taken care of.
    Fu***ng Oi.
    We (Democrats) really need to start now on making sure 2014 is another GOTV effort worthy of the name. Raising money now for that cause to 'take back the House'.

  • Peter C on November 13, 2012 10:05 AM:

    Modern Conservative Puritanism - the haunting fear that somewhere, someone might be having consentual sex.

  • James on November 13, 2012 10:05 AM:

    The White House press briefing promises to be ... ... ... entertaining....

    You can watch it live on CSPAN or the White House video site, which has far better video quality.

    Can't wait to see Jake Tapper and Ed Henry in full self-righteously jowl-quivering, finger-waggingly wingnut mode. And PressSec Carney doing his cool calm understandingly helpful patiently explanatory exjourno routine. Never let 'em see you sweat.

    You shouldn't miss it. (9:30 am PST)

  • c u n d gulag on November 13, 2012 10:08 AM:

    This, THIS, is the Hollywood movie the Conservatves have been waiting for!

    Only instead of the great comedy duo of Hope and Crosby, they want to cast 'Hopey and Changey" in "The Road to Benghazi!"

  • Ronald on November 13, 2012 10:11 AM:

    @jhm- The FBI agent wasn't so much under the influence of the 'other woman' as he was obsessed by her. And when he found out about the emails, he was convinced 'based on his world view' that they were covering up something for the White House.
    Fu***ng Oi again.
    Here's the story:
    "Jill Kelley FBI Contact Who Launched Petraeus Investigation Was Reportedly Dismissed From Case Over Conflict Of Interest"

  • Ronald on November 13, 2012 10:18 AM:

    From the NY Times article:
    "Ms. Kelley, a volunteer with wounded veterans and military families, brought her complaint to a rank-and-file agent she knew from a previous encounter with the F.B.I. office, the official also said. That agent, who had previously pursued a friendship with Ms. Kelley and had earlier sent her shirtless photographs of himself, was “just a conduit” for the complaint, he said. He had no training in cybercrime, was not part of the cyber squad handling the case and was never assigned to the investigation.

    But the agent, who was not identified, continued to “nose around” about the case, and eventually his superiors “told him to stay the hell away from it, and he was not invited to briefings,” the official said. The Wall Street Journal first reported on Monday night that the agent had been barred from the case.

    Later, the agent became convinced — incorrectly, the official said — that the case had stalled. Because of his “worldview,” as the official put it, he suspected a politically motivated cover-up to protect President Obama. The agent alerted Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, who called the F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III, on Oct. 31 to tell him of the agent’s concerns."
    (Emphasis mine)


  • Honeyboy Wilson on November 13, 2012 10:19 AM:

    Why do I think the term "military groupie" is about to become very popular.

  • Mimikatz on November 13, 2012 10:31 AM:

    The detail I found flabbergasting was that Eric Holder was informed in late summer about the Investigation and apparently didn't inform the WH? Was he too busy fighting fast and furious? Was Petraeus too busy trying to calm down Paula Broadwell to properly oversee whatever Benghazi operation triggered that mess?

    People who say an affair shouldn't matter are ignoring how these things can metastasize and come to dominate a person's existence, as may have happened here.

    I don't think extramarital affairs are a big deal, but I do think men have to decide whether they want power or the freedom to have sex with whomever they want. If they want to rise to the top they should behave better than Petraeus. If they want lots of sex they should be satisfied with a lower level job. Unfortunately, power is the ultimate aphrodisiac, as Henry Kissinger said, and too many men who get to the top think they should be able to have everything they want.

  • tcinaz on November 13, 2012 10:32 AM:

    Ya gotta' love it. A rightwing Obama-hater and FBI agent uses his position to push a conspiracy theory. The ultimate victim of exposure in the conspiracy turns out to be David Patraeus, a potential GOP presidential candidate in 2016. Only in the fever-swamps of winger's imaginations. Justice is even sweeter than revenge.

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on November 13, 2012 10:33 AM:

    Wow... So I go away for a few days (to Romneyville, Nawf Kackalacki), and this is what is making the headlines. I heard about Patraeus' resignation/affair but, silly me, I didn't pay attention to all the following bylines... And now I am fabulously confused. It's like tuning in to an episode of Maury 20 minutes into the broadcast: You did what with whose baby's daddy's sister's cousin????

    I'll wait for prime-time network tv dramatic interpretations...

  • liam foote on November 13, 2012 10:34 AM:

    As Brother Ronald alludes to above, tt appears that the young FBI agent working on the complaint by Jill Kelley became obssessed with her, according to a supervisor, and was removed from the case. He had also apparently emailed Ms. Kelley barechested photos of himself in a Weiner-like display of affection.

    And this would be the agent, presumably by now on unpaid leave, who in October initiated unauthorized contact with at least two GOP reps, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Rep. Cantor's chief of staff then called the FBI to report the rascal but Cantor never bothered to mention the matter to the Intelligence Committee of his own House who soon began howling about not being kept abreast, so to speak.

    Not to trivialize this matter, given the national security implications and the obvious emotional trauma suffered by relatives and friends of those involved, but I can't help but think of M*A*S*H* General Hammond and Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan.

    PS: Gotcha beat on Captcha, Boatboy. Mine is "Agent asposer"

  • boatboy_srq on November 13, 2012 10:41 AM:

    @Ronald, tcinaz, and others:

    This is Tampa, FL for BLEEP's sake, and MacDill/CENTCOM at that. Nothing to do there but suntan, ride the coasters at Busch Gardens - and swap spouses at CENTCOM shindigs while pretending to be happily domestically partnered every Sunday. I lost track of the number of times I met "single" volk there who were actually stepping out on husband/boyfriend/girlfriend/whatever. Conservatist values - at their lowest.

  • Stetson Kennedy on November 13, 2012 11:01 AM:

    First point - the idea that Obama wanted Patreus out due to his potential testimony on Benghazi is so mind-numbingly stupid, it's surprising that even the conservative chattering class could come up with it. Congress can STILL compel Patreus to testify; so if you're Obama, which gives you a better chance of Patreus "protecting" you? Keeping him employed, so you still have the legitimate threat of job security to hang over him; or, fire him so that threat no longer exists? I'm pretty sure it's the former. Smarter wingnuts, please.

    Secondly, this entire exercise should give us all pause about the power the FBI has to peruse all of our personal communications. I hope Obama makes that a focus of his second term.

  • Ronald on November 13, 2012 11:12 AM:

    Unfortunately, the chances that Obama makes privacy a concern in his second term are probably about as high as KKKarl Rove admitting he's been wrong all this time.

    As a left-winger, I'm still quite concerned about Mr. Obama 'negotiating away' progressive values to the far Right in an attempt towards 'bipartisanship' like we saw last term.

  • PTate in MN on November 13, 2012 11:35 AM:

    Well, golly. Based on nothing but a love for scandalous narrative (especially one discredits conservatives,) I'm hoping that the next headline will reveal that Jill Kelley was running a high-class prostitution ring for Blackwater, servicing officers at home and abroad.

    As Honeyboy Wilson astutely points out above, "the term "military groupie" is about to become very popular."

  • Ron Woody on November 13, 2012 11:41 AM:

    Baby, lately, I been so sad since I been gone
    Way back to Kabul city
    Where we don't belong
    Honey, I miss your two-tongue kisses
    The kind that drove the agent insane
    If I ever get back to CentComm, girl
    I'm gonna make ya scream my name.

    Honey, baby, you know I got to hear from you
    20-30 emails every day
    Keeps me ragin' real hard too.
    Honey, I miss your two-tongue kisses
    The kind that drove the agent insane
    If I ever get back to CentComm, girl
    I'm gonna make ya scream my name.

    Cause you a WarFucker, WarFucker, WarFucker, WarFucker, War
    Fucker, WarFucker, WarFucker, WarFucker, War
    Fucker, WarFucker, WarFucker, WarFucker, War
    Fucker, WarFucker, WarFucker, WarFucker, War

    Honey I've seen your Instagrams
    Now that's what I call obscene
    The trick with a boot is kinda cute
    Hope to keep my clearance clean
    Honey, I miss your two-tongue kisses
    The kind that drove the agent insane
    If I ever get back to CentComm, girl
    I'm gonna make ya scream my name.

    Now Paula Broadwell got mad with you
    For givin' head to a Marine
    Lord y'all made such a pretty pair
    Ballin' on the Iphone screen
    Honey why you call the FBI?
    Your agent boy is so insane
    If I ever get back to CentComm, girl
    I hope you will forget my name.

    Cause you a WarFucker, WarFucker, WarFucker, WarFucker, War
    Fucker, WarFucker, WarFucker, WarFucker, War
    Fucker, WarFucker, WarFucker, WarFucker, War
    Fucker, WarFucker, WarFucker, WarFucker, War

  • Altoid on November 13, 2012 11:57 AM:

    Seems like CENTCOM and environs, with assorted hangers-on, will make Peyton Place look tame.

    Sort of OT, but does anybody else find a remarkable resemblance between Paula Broadwater and Jill Kelley? Something that only feeds the whole narrative of sordidness.

  • Felicia on November 13, 2012 12:38 PM:

    @Mimikatz: You said, "[t]he detail I found flabbergasting was that Eric Holder was informed in late summer about the Investigation and apparently didn't inform the WH?"

    Perhaps Holder didn't think it was anybody's business. This was between Petreaus and his family. No security was breached, and from the looks of it, no laws were broken. Even Eric Cantor was decent enough to not drag the man through the mud. I'm not defending Petreaus because I've always hated the man since his leadership in Iraq. But I don't think it's right for the FBI and Justice Dept. to be investigating and reporting on people's personal lives.

  • DRF on November 13, 2012 12:46 PM:

    In response to mimikatz, who can't understand why, if this came to Holder's attention he didnt' inform the President: There are lots of investigations and matters that come to the Attorney General's attention that are not brought to the White House; there are only so many matters that can be dealt with by the White House. Since apparently nothing in this investigation ever suggested a breach of national security or, for that matter, anything illegal, there was really no reason to bring it to the White House.

  • Fess on November 13, 2012 1:13 PM:

    Felicia and DRF: it depends on how you define breach of national security. Sex outside of an established marriage is always a security concern. For the single folk, it's just a matter of not sleeping with the enemy, the excessively kinky, or someone of the same sex. For married folk, there is always the concern of blackmail. Patraeus had pretty much risen to the top of the pile and, presumably, wanted to stay there. He may even have had presidential aspirations. While many Democrats don't get excited about public persons' sleezy affairs, many of the Republican "godly" do (even the majority who are Class A hypocrites). What info might he have traded if push came to shove? Just a little pillow talk, a non-essential tidbit? If one little tidbit is offered, then of course the info-receiver has an even greater hold to get the next more interesting tidbit. It's that slippery slope thing. So, yeah, the whole situation fell well within the Red Light Security Alert!! Dumb, but that's the way it works. Even dumber of Patraeus to get led around by his dick - he knew better and decided the rules didn't apply to him.

  • beejeez on November 13, 2012 1:21 PM:

    I'm sympathetic to Felicia, DRF and the prez, but the fact is, this affair does not reflect well on them. Either Obama is lying or Holder deliberately withheld information from him.

    1. The CIA chief does not get to have affairs, period, and that goes triple if he's married. It's part of the job description.
    2. If the Attorney General even hears a rumor that the CIA chief is having an affair, he has to tell the Commander in Chief. It's part of his job description.
    3. If the President knows the CIA chief is having an affair, he has to relieve him of his duties the instant he can assure a swift transfer of power. It's part of his job description.

    Now, it appears this is all simply bad timing, and I think Obama was right to keep it from throwing the final days of the election into chaos, if indeed he knew. But the facts are that the ladies involved aren't spies, no state secrets got spilled, and nobody died. It sure looks like a simple case of humans being humans. But, yes, you do have to let the GOP pick at it, and Dems would treat it no differently if the shoe were on the other foot.

  • BJ smith on November 13, 2012 2:48 PM:

    I do tcinaz, especially with way over rated on everything Cantor & sordid novel writer King involved. All in all it hasn't been a very good month for Repubs, so far & looking to get worse.

  • gratuitous on November 13, 2012 3:28 PM:

    As far as movies go, at this point I think we're one dancing midget away from a David Lynch flick.

  • Col Bat Guano on November 13, 2012 4:37 PM:

    gratuitous for the win!