November 15, 2012

Further notes on the slippery slope to tyranny

One aspect of Dave & Paula & Jack & Jill that has received little attention (yet is the actual story) is the extent to which the FBI ransacked the email accounts of four Americans without a shred of probable cause.  Glenn Greenwald wrote about it, of course, and Rachel Maddow (that perspicacious observer of subtle story lines) said something, too, for which she deserves much praise, for after all this is Obama the Great's Justice Department of which we speak..  But for the most part, the complete and utter disregard of the Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights continues unimpeded by so much as a whimper from the Mainstream Media or the political establishment. 

For example, our Constitutional scholar President might have risen to the defense of his CIA Director by murmuring the following:  General Petraeus's emails were hacked into by the FBI by the following chain of logic:  an FBI agent with the hots for Jill Kelley, the Tampa party girl and military groupie, responded to Jill's damsel-in-distress routine about emails received from Paula Broadwell, which apparently were to the effect of "back off, bitch," or something along those high school-rivalry lines.  This agent, along with others at the FBI, could not really find anything in these emails from Broadwell to Kelley which were actionable; there were no threats of bodily harm, no warning that Jill's house would be burned down, nothing.  Nevertheless, the FBI then began pawing through Paula Broadwell's emails and discovered that she was having an affair with Petraeus.  This led to reading all of the CIA Director's emails, and then the agents discovered among the emails of Jill Kelley (which they of course began reading, far beyond the scope of the Broadwell "threat" emails) the voluminous emails from General John Allen to Jill Kelley.

The only activity that is even remotely improper, as far as the four targets of the FBI were concerned, was General Allen's affair (if there was one) with Kelley, which would violate the rules of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  But UCMJ rules are not within the purview of the FBI.  Petraeus's affair is not criminal in any way, since he was a civilian (CIA Director) at the time his liaison with Broadwell occurred.  More importantly, as of the time the FBI began its wholesale invasion of the privacy of these four Americans, there was no indication that any crime had been committed, since the point of entry for the Bureau was the Broadwell to Kelley email traffic.  Unless the FBI found an initial basis for believing (reasonably) that a crime had been committed, anything else it discovered would be inadmissible as "fruit of the poisonous tree," as we used to quaintly call the doctrine before the repeal of the Fourth Amendment.

The FBI paid a kind of faint tribute to the rules of search-and-seizure by arguing, ex post facto, that the Bureau was "concerned about breaches of security," thus betraying the FBI's cognizance that it had no business rifling through the private lives of four Americans without a predicate crime on which to base its investigation.  This "national security" stuff (involving the Petraeus-Broadwell affair) came to light only after the initial violation of the Fourth Amendment.

As I say, if we had other than an Empty Suit President (with the election behind us and a greater danger averted, we can go back to the plain truth), the real issue here would be part of the public discourse.  But Obama, while still a Senator, completely reversed himself on the issue of telecom immunity for cooperating with violations of the FISA law and warrantless searches, despite his campaign promise that he would "never" vote for immunity.  He didn't until it became politically expedient to do so.

President O doesn't want to dredge all that up into the public consciousness again, so he will, as usual, do nothing.  Which, as we have been warned by wise men, is all that is necessary for evil to thrive.

November 13, 2012

A Personal Note of Thanks to David & Paula & Jack & Jill

(with a cameo role by the shirtless FBI agent who became infatuated with Jill.)  Without this meaningless "scandal," we would have been inundated over the next six weeks with nonstop news about the "fiscal cliff."  Yech.  This is a lot more fun.  I don't know if we can squeeze a Christine Keeler/Mandy Rice-Davies sized story out of this tale of Generals Behaving Badly, but the Lamestream Media can at least try.

My favorite angle?  Diane Feinstein's outrage that the FBI was having all the fun with this, poring over thousands of pages of steamy emails (military version), without "consulting" Congress.  Oh brother.  Let me get this straight: an entire war (Libya) can happen without consulting Congress (as in, seeking authorization under the War Powers Act of 1973) and that's not a problem.  But if things get worked up into such a lather that an FBI agent is iPhoto-ing himself with no shirt in an effort to turn Jill Kelley on, and Congress is not in the loop, it's time for a Special Prosecutor?

I'm trying to come up with a story line that better illustrates the utter and complete frivolousness of Congress, the endless War on Terror, our misbegotten wars and the commanders who lead them, the entire circle jerk of what Washington's bureaucracy has become - and drawing blanks. 

Twenty to thirty thousand pages of emails between Kelley and John Allen?  What, exactly, is General Allen being paid to do?

November 11, 2012

How Could General Petraeus Do Such a Thing??!!

(For the benefit of curious and deductive sleuths, I have provided the above visual clue as to why a 60 year old man exhibited "terrible judgment," in his words, in making such a colossal mistake.)

Oddly enough, this is not the question the valiant Washington press corps is asking.  Rather, in General Petraeus's case, the only real issue seems to be whether President Obama should or should not have accepted his resignation. I'm not sure this question even makes sense.  Refuse his resignation?  It's a measure of how undone Washington is over this disgraced hero.

As Glenn Greenwald has (hilariously) pointed out, in all other sex scandals involving Washington bigwigs, the smarm is thick enough to shmear your poppy seed bagel with (my words, not his).   While straining to keep a straight face, and delighting in every lurid, salacious detail dredged up on the embarrassed public official, the media always play sex scandals to the hilt.  Nothing is condemned as harshly as marital infidelity, as Bill Clinton, John Edwards, Eliot Spitzer and many others have found out.  Every Washington reporter, every Congressperson, every D.C. bureaucrat instantly becomes functionally Amish.

But this is the military we're dealing with, and, to boot, a four-star mega-hero who has salvaged (so the legend goes) two completely unnecessary wars and prevented them from becoming unsuccessful unnecessary wars (not that it would matter, heroism-wise), and kept us safe from terror which would not exist were we not waging war in the Muslim world all the time.  And in my book (and it better be in your book, too), all that we can be, as far as General David Petraeus is concerned, is eternally grateful, and wipe that smirk off your face, soldier.

We'll get puff pieces, however, on new "insights" into infidelity.  (Adam was probably faithful to Eve so long as no other options existed, but it was all downhill from there.)  Still it must be "analyzed," psychologists, sociologists, urologists, must be consulted to find out why people have sex when they can.   Here's the actual title of a piece on the Huffington Post by Lisa Belkin, who's something called the Life/Work/Family Senior Columnist:

Why do powerful men cheat?

I simplified this as follows:

Why do powerful men cheat?

I realized I could ask another question:

Why do powerful women cheat?

And as before:

Why do powerful women cheat?

Reducing to simplest terms, and using a collective noun:

Why do (wo)men cheat? 

Or:  Why do people cheat?

My answer was as follows:

Because they’re people.

Something told me that this would not be the answer from the  expert on the the Huffington Post.  And sure enough it was far more nuanced and complicated than that.  Belkin said:  "What is unclear is why."

That's why I'll never be the Life/Work/Family Senior Columnist on The Huffington Post.