When information surfaced linking CIA Director David Petraeus to an adulterous relationship with his biographer Paula Broadwell, the media firestorm was instantaneous. Yet another lewd scandal has broken free of the clandestine veil of the United States Government. Moral questions immediately arose concerning how a highly respected and powerful member of the U.S. intelligence community could be involved in such a bawdy display of personal character. Soon after, the mainstream press initiated their imprudent criticism of Petraeus’ actions and used this tabloid scandal to focus the attention of American people away from pertinent journalism.
There is no denying that what David Petraeus did is contemptible, but the constant focus of public coverage on his ethical wrongdoing is misguided. The Petraeus scandal has become an obvious red herring, deliberately positioned to capture the attention of American people through sensationalism. Taking an unbiased look at the role of the CIA in American government reveals the profound irony of this coverage. This issue surrounds the leader of an agency with a well documented history marred by scandal, dishonesty, illegality, and inefficiency. The CIA has evolved into an arm of the US government willing to carry out operations without concern for public disclosure.
In the modern war on terror, the CIA is left woefully unsupervised to conduct secretive operations involving national security and defense. These operations range from illegal civilian surveillance, to direct violations of the Geneva Convention, to the unsanctioned drone attacks that persist across Pakistan, Iran, and Yemen. In May of 2011 the agency conducted a drone strike in Pakistan that claimed no collateral casualties in its official report. Despite this, it was soon discovered by journalists in the area that a different story was the truth. The strike killed 12 suspected terrorist operatives, however collateral damage included a nearby restaurant where 6 civilians were also killed.
It is profoundly disingenuous for popular news outlets to posture the Petraeus story as one of upmost concern; considering the range of more pertinent stories that could be covered. The past several years have revealed sensitive information that changes the view of America and its global war efforts. Vital investigative journalism has recently become associated with whistle-blowing, and is often considered unsavory or unpatriotic. Concern for the personal affairs of a man who also directs a government agency perpetrating war crimes on a daily basis is truly trivial.
-J. A. Young-