Sex, Google, and Videotape

The jokes won’t stop coming.  He has an “open door policy” that gives her “full access.”  She’s “all in.”

The FBI investigation of David Petraeus “started with two women.”  Well let’s meet the main one, a soldier-scholar with great arms.

Here she is, waiting for any number of engagements.  The author of All In never knew a book title could become her own personal destiny.  Paula Broadwell showed off her Michelle Obama-worthy uppers on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart.

And here is an especially cringe-worthy interview with someone named Arthur Kade who cannot disguise his enthusiasm for sitting next to Broadwell.

Here is a photo of David Petraeus and his wife Holly, who have been married for 38 years.

Where does one begin with the Grecian fall of David Petraeus and his biographer/lover Paula Broadwell?  Petraeus, arguably one of the most highly decorated retired military men in U.S. history, was the civilian head of the Central Intelligence Agency until tendering his resignation on Friday, November 9th.  What seemed to be a simple “head to bed” transition in Petraeus’ relationship with Broadwell does not explain the reason for his resignation.  We live in an age when top government officials (e.g., Clinton, Gingrich) engage in extramarital affairs, but many manage to survive these peccadilloes in our “anything goes as long as you don’t wake up the cows” age.

It is not the extramarital affair an intelligence agency like the CIA cared about in this case.  Rather it was the opportunity by the lover or a third party to breach top security.  The FBI had been contacted months ago by Petraeus family friend Jill Kelley of Tampa, Florida, identified now as an unpaid social liaison to the Joint Special Operations Command, who complained that she was being sent anonymous threatening emails.  It turns out that Broadwell was sending said emails and the trail of threats wound up snaring Broadwell’s lover Petraeus through their Google email accounts.  Let’s hope that Petraeus’ Google email wasn’t something like “I’m too sexy” at Google dot com.  Google, like Yahoo! and other secondary emails that many of us use outside of work, do not have the same firewall protection from hackers of an official account used for formal communications in business, government or the academy.

Oh what a tangled web indeed.

The videotape angle of this story is not a sex tape.  I’m referring to the conspiracy theory that the real reason David Petraeus resigned was to avoid giving testimony to Congress on the Benghazi attacks of 9/11/12.  Remember how the Obama administration originally linked these attacks to the “Innocence of Muslims” video?  Some think that Petraeus wanted to step aside so he wouldn’t have to answer any tough questions related to the Benghazi narrative.  I’m not so sure about that given the power of Congress to subpoena witnesses.

What we have here is an opportunity for political opportunists to run with this scandal while the parties involved just want to hide.  This is so much bigger than any sex scandal, despite the sad wake such an affair leaves with the two married partners, one of whom (Broadwell), has two young children.


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About socalnancysnow

I'm Professor of Communications at California State University, Fullerton, what we sometimes refer to as "Disney U" given its proximity to the famous mouse kingdom. I specialize in political and persuasive communication (e.g., media and politics, rhetoric, propaganda studies, image management), which explains my social media handles: Twitter (drpersuasion) and Skype (drpropaganda). My best known books are "Propaganda, Inc." and "Information War," though I have also edited several books on the post-9/11 era, including the "Routledge Handbook of Public Diplomacy" and "War, Media and Propaganda." I have published nine books altogether. My latest are "Truth is the Best Propaganda" and "Propaganda and American Democracy."

4 responses to “Sex, Google, and Videotape”

  1. kheller66 says :

    No matter the level of education achieved, said education does not always equate to common sense. This is rather amazing for an individual (Broadwell) who had served in the military and understands the sensitivities surrounding online identification. DoD mandates the use of Common Access Card (CAC) with a personal pin number when corresponding via email for authentication purposes. Did he give that to her as well? Really?

    Some interesting further analysis:

  2. Helena Reed says :

    OK am I missing something? I understand that there is far more to this than just the sex scandal between Broadwell and Petraeus, but were these videos made before the scandal was discovered? If not, in both interviews Broadwell seems very unaffected by her actions or what has happened. Maybe these videos were made before hand but it’s just all weird to me. Also, Broadwell, regardless of her personal life seems like a very accomplished and experienced individual, but this reporter Arthur Kade was almost distracting to me. In my opinion at times he almost seemed as if he was flirting with her (awkward interview). Maybe this wasn’t the proper response on my hand but this is just simply what I felt while watching the interview. As for everything else, my ignorance (I guess you could call it), lies in the fact that I don’t really understand how Broadwell breached top security. As sad as it is, I guess the whole extramarital situation is not the main concern. I think the main question is how or if this affects our national security. I’m not by any means belittling the affair or calling it unimportant. But all of these extramarital issues need to be squared away because there is a greater concern and that is the war our country is fighting and where our leader’s heads are.

    • socalnancysnow says :

      Helena, I posted my blog about Petraeus and Broadwell in the early hours of the scandal’s breaking. I agree with you that this is much more than sex. Sex isn’t the issue at all, but rather how their affair may have connected around issues of national security. There is another video of Paula Broadwell giving a speech at one of her many alma mater universities. In this case, she’s speaking at the University of Denver in October where she announces that the Benghazi attack was an attempt to release Libyans who were being held there under the auspices of the CIA! Now the CIA is never going to admit to any such “secret jail,” and furthermore, President Obama issued an executive order in 2009 banning such CIA detention jails [see They were still in operation during the Bush-Cheney administration.

      Clearly Broadwell has spoken out of turn and the FBI spent five hours in her home in Charlotte going through documents she accrued for her biography of Petraeus and removing all her computer equipment. Her security clearance as a member of the armed reserves has been revoked at this time. There are many more pieces to this “sex scandal” that yet have to be revealed and some of the implications will affect us all.

  3. Keith Goldstein says :

    The scandals issue is on information she may( or may not) have received from Petraeus that was revealed through email. naturally she denies receiving the high-security information from Petraeus, but that raises the question of where she got it from. CIA found thousands of emails that revealed the scandal, but also showed she has internal information that she should not have. The sex scandal is not anybody’s problem but their own(although entertaining) the issue is in national security. Does this show the weakness in national security? I feel it certainly shows the “human” nature of such a heroic figure as Petraeus. Society holds him higher as someone we trust with our security and secrets, but this makes me wonder if he spills secrets like a 13 year old girl. Whether or not he personally gave up this information, there are leaks that need to be fixed.

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