Sunday, November 11, 2012


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The FBI began the investigation of CIA Director David Petraeus after receiving a complaint that his biographer Paula Broadwell was sending harassing e-mails to another woman close to him. During the investigation, other communications surfaced between Petraeus and Broadwell, a married mother of two. The woman who made the initial complaint and her relationship with Petraeus is unknown at the time of this posting. General Petraeus’ quick resignation emanates from his sense of obligation to the men and women working for the CIA and from a devotion to personal honesty and honor, which he broke. 

General Petraeus is unlike the other adultery-guilty leaders like Newt Gingrich, Larry Craig, David Vitter, John Ensign, Mark Sanford, Senator John McCain, Bob Livingston, Bill Clinton, President John F. Kennedy, Anthony Weiner…the list is endless. He didn‘t resort to lies, cover ups, deceptions and mendacity's, like the others…he simply fessed up to the truth and assumed all blame.

Personally, I don't think he should have resigned. First, neither Broadwell or the other woman she was emailing was a "Honey Trap", a CIA term for female foreign agents who befriend Americans and obtain vital classified information from them. Even if either woman turned out to be, and Petraeus found out about it, he would have privately informed CIA counterintelligence, assumed the role of a double agent and fed her false information to harm whatever foreign intelligence service she was working for. General Petraeus is well aware of the importance counterintelligence plays in  protecting secrets and in aggressively thwarting, penetrating, and deceiving hostile intelligence organizations to neutralize or even manipulate their operations. 

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I also wonder if the FBI’s underlying motive for the Petraeus investigation was to demonstrate their supremacy over the CIA on American turf. After all, for years there has been a battle between law enforcement (LE), like the FBI and counterintelligence (CI), like the CIA over who should take over domestic counter- intelligence. This battle between the LE and CI cultures has grown and the FBI may play a diminishing role in domestic surveillance activities. The CI professionals in the CIA say that the FBI’s LE culture cannot fight terrorism effectively by slapping the cuffs on and making arrests as soon as enough evidence is collected to prosecute effectively in court. The CI culture, which lacks the power to arrest, desires to postpone arrest and continue surveillance in order to gather ever more vital information about the suspects, their friends and visitors, strangers they meet, etc.

I wonder how much of this law enforcement mentality was behind the releasing of General Petraeus' extramarital affair. If there was a remote possibility that either Broadwell or the other woman were a possible "Honey Trap", this whole affair should not have been exposed so quickly and both women should have been put under intense surveillance... everywhere they went and everyone they met should have been collated and observed as well....until they were proven not guilty...which would have lessened the impact on General Petraeus.

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Does the General Petraeus affair highlight the division between the LE and CI cultures? I attended an AFIO seminar 6 years ago in Tyson Corner, VA, and listened to members of the Intelligence Community (IC) explain why domestic spying and counterintelligence should be conducted by the CIA counterintelligence community (CI) and not by the FBI (LE). During the all-day meeting, one FBI agent grew so angry that he stood up and began swearing (using 4-letter words) at the CI panel members.

I wonder if this on-going LE and CI culture clash may be behind the reason why the FBI released this information about Petraeus, simply because he was CIA Director. Even if this cultural divide didn't play a part, I wonder if some FBI brass are toasting the event at the local pub. I hope not, for it was this rift between the FBI and CIA counterintelligence that did NOT prevent 9/11 from happening. I believe the United States needs a dedicated domestic counterintelligence division, and it should be centered at the CIA headquarters in Langley, Va. I've written articles justifying that we permit the CIA to conduct counterintelligence inside America.  Excuse me whilst I duck.

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Paula Broadwell wrote a book about CIA Director Petraeus and we offer her book, "All In".  It describes his intellectual development as a soldier and his impact on the United States military, due to his strategic leadership. Broadwell was embedded with the general, his staff, and his soldiers on the front lines to chronicle his command in the crucible of war. She was allowed unprecedented access by Petraeus, his mentors, and his subordinates, and she draws on hundreds of hours of exclusive interviews to tell the inside story of this commander's development and leadership from every vantage point. Things happen, and the more than professional relationship that developed led to his resignation.

Note: Please take the POLL: "Should Gen. Petraeus Have Resigned" in the upper right-hand margin.

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CIA Should Conduct Counterintelligence Inside America

Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. is a member of the Association For Intelligence Officers (AFIO) and writes about the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC). A portion of Ad revenues generated on this site is donated to the AFIO. His ideas are his own and do not represent those of any organization he's a member of. We will publish your ideas and comments at no charge...for the good of the order! Contact us on the Secure Contact Form

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