“Why do the powerful cheat?” That is the headline of an article published by USA Today reporting on the alleged extramarital affair carried on by CIA Director General David Petraeus (pictured) that resulted in his resignation.
That is a sociologically interesting question regarding the lives of eminent men, but a more important question to the political life of our Republic is why powerful men such as Petraeus and his recently reelected boss cheat on their oaths of office to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution.
Arguably, it was Petraeus’ pursuit of a more overtly military role for the intelligence agency that will be his most devastating legacy.
As Robert Wright says in an Atlantic article:
When, in the fall of 2011, David Petraeus moved from commanding the Afghanistan war effort to commanding the CIA, it was a disturbingly natural transition. I say "natural" because the CIA conducts drone strikes in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region and is involved in other military operations there, so Petraeus, in his new role, was continuing to fight the Afghanistan war. I say "disturbingly" because this overlap of Pentagon and CIA missions is the result of a creeping militarization of the CIA that may be undermining America's national security.
This trend was clear during the Bush administration, but it accelerated under President Obama, who greatly expanded drone strikes, and it reached a kind of symbolic culmination when Obama nominated this four-star general to run things at Langley. That would have been the perfect time to reflect on the wisdom of the convergence of the CIA's and Pentagon's jobs. But, instead, the network of journalists, think tankers, public officials and others who constitute the foreign policy establishment preserved their nearly unblemished record of not focusing on the biggest questions.
An example of this acceleration of the CIA’s role in military operations was provided in a Wired magazine report that 333 drone strikes have been carried out in Afghanistan this year. Notably, the lead on carrying out these attacks has been assumed by the CIA under Petraeus’ watch. The Wired story reports:
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