“Petraeus’ rules for living”

That headline in Newsweek magazine’s Nov. 12 edition appears right under an impressive, full color photograph of Gen. David Petraeus.

Also in this picture are his four general stars, Combat Infantryman Badge, Army Ranger patch and the top four rows of numerous decorations from one of the most widely storied and admired military careers of the 21st century.

The first of these Petraeus “rules for living” is:

“Lead by example from the front of the formation.”

But nowhere in this Petraeus “list of 12 rules for living” is there any quotation – or even related reference – to the Seventh Commandment: Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Precisely that issue of adultery was at the top of Page 1 of the Nov. 10 New York Times: “Petraeus Resigns at CIA; FBI Discovered an Affair.”

The Times reported – with similar front-page coverage in the Washington Post and all over the Internet:

“David H. Petraeus, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency and one of America’s most decorated four-star generals, resigned on Friday after an FBI investigation uncovered evidence that he had been involved in an extramarital affair.

“Mr. Petraeus issued a statement acknowledging the affair after Obama accepted his resignation and it was announced by the CIA.”

Question: Why did this four-star general resign only after the FBI discovered the betrayal of his marriage vows, pledged 37 years ago to the daughter of the superintendent of his alma mater, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point?

Question: Why did Gen. Petraeus wait until after the presidential election to resign? Weeks before the election, FBI agents met with the general. They questioned him about his use of a computer to send love notes to his paramour. She was another West Point graduate who is the author of the book with the memorable title, “All In: The Education of Gen. David Petraeus.”

Question, as posed by another New York Times report:

“The Federal Bureau of Investigation did not inform the Senate and House Intelligence Committees about the inquiry until this week, according to congressional officials, who noted that by law the panels – and especially their chairmen and ranking members – are supposed to be told about significant developments in the intelligence arena. The Senate committee plans to pursue the question of why it was not told, one official said.”

Question: Paula Broadwell, as the wife of another man and mother of two, told the interviewers she: “had unusual access to the general” and “taped many of her interviews for her books while running six-minute miles with Petraeus in the thin mountain air of the Afghan capital.”

Why was all this countenanced by the Army for a married general with a woman who was not his wife? And why was there no media coverage of all this scandalous adultery in high places until after Petraeus resigned?

The Washington Post reported: “Current and former U.S. military officials said suspicions of infidelities had followed Petraeus for years.”

In describing Petraeus in a CBS interview two months ago, Paula Broadwell said: “He, at the end of the day, is human and is challenged by the burdens of command. … So he has this mask of command – you think he’s really confident – but I got to see a more personal side.”

Now, finally, we all know about details of that “more personal side.”

The Post also reported, “Petraeus, who retired from the military last year, is still subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which classifies adultery as a crime.”

But Eugene Fidell, a Yale faculty member and prominent specialist in military law, said odds are extremely low that the military would prosecute a retired officer.

Along with the aforementioned and very justified reasons to deplore Gen. Petraeus, I remain an admirer of his military career. I am also grateful for what Petraeus announced last Friday:

“After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair. Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as a leader of an organization such as ours. This afternoon the president graciously accepted my resignation.”

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