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Security Affairs Monday December 3, 2012

SECURITY AFFAIRS

I've been chewing on this for a while, and I've come to the conclusion that I really don't understand America's preoccupation with sexual dalliances. Okay, I realize that we don't yet know everything that may come out in the future, but as it stands now, I'm not seeing how David Petraeus having an affair in any way compromised his ability to do his job either as a field general, or as Director of The CIA.

I don't RESPECT Bill Clinton for having affairs with Gennifer Flowers and Monica Lewinsky, but I don't think these affairs affected America's security or his ability to be President. Nor do I think that John Kennedy's affair with Marilyn Monroe affected America's security, and we currently have no reason to believe that General Petraeus shared any national security information with Paula Broadwell, the woman he had his affair with. She is not a Soviet agent or North Korean spy. In fact, she's a woman that had some US security clearances of her own.

If we're going to be concerned that Petraeus shared state secrets with Paula Broadwell, shouldn't we also be concerned that he may have shared state secrets with his wife over the years? What's HER security clearance? Is a wife inherently more discreet than a mistress? You know, if mistresses are a security breach, then France must have a very long history of security breaches, because it has a very long history of its leaders having mistresses, and pretty openly, at that.

Here is the crux of the matter. If David Petraeus was not married and he had a relationship with a woman, would that be a matter of national security? Would it be front-page news? And if not, does it really matter to national security if he is married? Didn't former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich have several affairs and several wives? And yet no one is screaming that he was a security leak.

If it's eventually proven that General Petraeus' pillow talk included classified information, that would be cause for concern. A man with his level of security and responsibility should not be telling anyone - spouse, mistress, or poker buddy - classified information. If General Petraeus is CLEARED of giving national security information to his paramour, it won't matter. His private life will have been laid bare to the world, and his reputation will have been sullied beyond repair. He will have lost his position as a result of it and he will not get it back. The media ruins you on Page 1, but retracts on page 20.

You know, ancient monarchs guarded their harem with eunuchs because they believed only eunuchs could be trusted not to dally with their women. Unless we plan to literally neuter our public officials, we need to accept that all people are capable of having affairs, and that should not automatically disqualify them from holding public office. It's worth mentioning, too, that the threat of exposure may be the most serious leverage a foreign agent has against a powerful person who's having an affair. If society is less obsessed and judgmental about these affairs, that leverage is gone. Maybe France's laissez-faire attitude towards affairs, is something we could learn from.