The Collapse of Ethics – David Petraeus resigns from CIA – How Did this Begin? – Part 2

Every Choice has a Consequence!  Five powerful words…that have impacted so many.  Smart man, brilliant military career, powerful mover and shaker in Washington, yet, the human side of ethical choices dictates now that David Petraeus will, for the rest of his life, experience the consequences of his misguided and unethical choices.

Typically there are three components that come together when an otherwise intelligent and ethical person makes unethical choices: Need, Opportunity and Rationalization.  Below is a reprint of a Reuters story.  The copied portion is featured in BLUE and my comments that are interjected are in Black.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The FBI investigation that led to the discovery of CIA Director David Petraeus’ affair with author Paula Broadwell was sparked by “suspicious emails” that initially did not contain any connection to Petraeus, U.S. law enforcement and security officials told Reuters on Saturday.

Suspicious emails.  In today society we leave an electronic footprint almost everywhere we go.  As compared to the past, this electronic footprint now is the foundation of so many circumstances where what is done in the dark gets brought to the light.  Every Choice has a Consequence.  In this case what Petraeus might have rationalized would never come to light – did and in ways he likely never expected (although he headed the CIA and one would think in that position you’d figure everything can be found or discovered).

But the CIA director’s name unexpectedly turned up in the course of the investigation, two officials and two other sources briefed on the matter said.

It was “an issue with two women and they stumbled across the affair with Petraeus,” a U.S. government security source said.

The Washington Post reported on Saturday that the FBI probe was triggered when Broadwell sent threatening emails to an unidentified woman close to the CIA director.

The woman went to the FBI, which traced the threats to Broadwell and then uncovered explicit emails between Petraeus and Broadwell, the Post said.

Attempts by Reuters and other news media to reach Broadwell, an Army reserve offer and author of a biography of Petraeus, have not been successful.

The FBI and CIA declined comment on Saturday.

Many questions in the case remain unanswered publicly, including the identity of the second woman; the precise nature of the emails that launched the FBI investigation; and whether U.S. security was compromised in any way.

Nor is it clear why the FBI waited until Election Day to tell U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who oversees the CIA and other intelligence agencies, about its investigation involving Petraeus.

The CIA director announced his resignation suddenly on Friday, acknowledging an extramarital affair and saying he showed “extremely poor judgment.

The developments likely ended the public career of one of the United States’ most highly regarded generals, who was credited with helping pull Iraq out of civil war and led U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

Choices and Consequences!  Most of us (and yes I have personally been there) don’t think about the possible ramifications of our decisions.  As an Ethics Speaker and Consultant, it is clear to me almost every day that intelligent people seem to lose their judgement when it comes to recognizing the potential consequences of their actions. 

Meanwhile, new details emerged on Saturday about developments in the final days leading to Petraeus’ departure from atop the CIA.

Clapper was notified by the FBI on Tuesday evening about 5 p.m. – just as returns in the U.S. presidential election were about to come in – about “the situation involving Director Petraeus,” a senior intelligence official said. Clapper and Petraeus then spoke that evening and the following morning.


“Director Clapper, as a friend and a colleague and a fellow general officer, advised Director Petraeus that he should do the right thing and he should step down,” the official said.

Clapper is a retired Air Force lieutenant general; Petraeus served nearly four decades in the U.S. Army.

On Wednesday, Clapper notified the National Security Council at the White House that Petraeus was considering resigning and President Barack Obama should be informed, the official said.

U.S. law enforcement and intelligence officials agreed to discuss the Petraeus matter only on condition of anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity and because it is the subject of a law enforcement investigation.

Once Petraeus’ name turned up in the investigation, the importance of the FBI inquiry was immediately escalated, as investigators became concerned the CIA chief somehow might have been compromised, the law enforcement official said.

However, the official and two sources briefed on the matter said no evidence has turned up suggesting Petraeus had become vulnerable to espionage or blackmail. At this point, it appears unlikely that anyone will be charged with a crime as a result of the investigation, the official said.

The FBI investigation began fairly recently – months ago rather than years ago, when Petraeus would still have been in uniform as one of the U.S. Army’s top field commanders, the official said.

Representative Peter King, Republican chairman of the House of Representatives’ Homeland Security Committee, said in an interview on MSNBC the FBI was “investigating or monitoring … the director of the CIA for four or five months.”

Several officials briefed on the matter said senior officials at the Pentagon, CIA and Congress knew nothing of the FBI’s investigation of Petraeus until Thursday afternoon at the earliest, and some key officials were not briefed on the details until Friday.

There is no evidence at this time that anyone at the White House had knowledge of the situation involving Petraeus prior to the U.S. presidential election on Tuesday, which saw Obama elected to a second four-year term.

Another U.S. government security source said it was not until Friday afternoon that some members of the House and Senate intelligence oversight committees were notified about Petraeus’ resignation by Clapper’s office.

The congressional committees were told that it was a personal issue that Petraeus had to discuss with his wife. When pressed, a representative of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said it involved another woman.

(Writing by Warren Strobel; Additional reporting by Doug Palmer and Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Todd Eastham)

This section on The Collapse of Ethics – David Petraeus resigns from CIA – shows the aftermath of what happens when unethical choices are made.  In subsequent segments we’ll look back and try to identify where the Need and Opportunity came into play.  Meanwhile…YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!

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