by Andy Weddington
Friday, 16 November 2012
"Calamity is the test of integrity." Samuel Richardson
Who's the main attraction? Well, the headliner - the one in the spotlight, of course - President Barack Obama. But I'll get back to him because now that spotlight is bigger and brighter on him and he merits the last thought for readers to contemplate leaving today's comment.
Who's the star distractions? Two, for now, share the limelight - General David Petraeus, U. S. Army (Retired) the recently departed Director, CIA, and General John Allen, U. S. Marine Corps (currently the commander of ISAF forces in Afghanistan).
Monday I published comment about General Petraeus in 'Atop the Petraeus Flagpole' http://acoloneloftruth.blogspot.com/2012/11/atop-petraeus-flagpole.html His story has gotten a bit stranger since. And today he's testifying on Capitol Hill behind closed doors.
Yesterday afternoon I stumbled on the early minutes of 'The Five' - a collective of diverse characters - on the Fox News Channel. They were discussing today's behind-closed-doors testimony of General Petraeus. And Andrea Tantaros said, "He's a very honest man..." and not one of her four co-hosts so much as did a head pause and glance in her direction with mouth agape. Dumb.
So, let's get this straight. General Petraeus betrayed his wife - and it's still not known if he began his extramarital affair with Paula Broadwell while on active duty (a crime). He made false official statements (surely under duress of a White House aware of his secret but so what) about the terrorist attack and murders of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya. And, the highest form of proof as to wrong-doing, he confessed to his infidelity (because he was caught).
Is a great and honorable man who commits murder or robs a bank still a great and honorable man? Or is he a murderer or bank robber?
And, oh by the way, Monday after publishing the commentary, reader comment came back that General Order #1 - 'No alcohol, No sex, No pets', set by General Petraeus while in command in Iraq, was an order not complied with by headquarters. And that time frame syncs with Paula Broadwell's arrival on the scene to start her study of the General's leadership, and now suspiciously more. Coincidence? Logical inference? More than interesting.
In the early morning hours the day after publishing commentary on General Petraeus, my cell phone alerted to incoming texts - General Allen now part of the drama and it's not especially flattering. News reports noted an extraordinary number of emails between him and a woman not his wife. The woman, befriended while the general was assigned as the deputy at Central Command in Tampa, Florida, a socialite of sorts and the General's banter rumored to have crossed the line of gentlemanly good taste for an active duty service member.
But let's be clear, General Allen denied any impropriety. And an investigation is underway while his next assignment in Europe is on hold. Whatever out in the public is gossip. He, even by military law, is innocent until proven guilty and there is due process to follow.
The travesty for General Allen, regardless of how distasteful the situation for him may appear, is that he, unlike General Petraeus, did not confess wrong-doing; he has not had his day in court - sort of speak; and it was absolutely reckless for the media to publicly smear him.
But why did they do it - spotlight the generals?
General Petraeus is an easy one. He, as Director, CIA, was involved with Benghazi. His personal life indiscretions a fall out of bizarre tangential players.
Disgracing General Allen makes sense, as another star distraction, well-knowing the media's shameless agenda is to protect President Obama's culpability in the Benghazi, Libya, fiasco - the murders of four Americans serving their country.
But a funny thing happened the day after General Allen, and his family, was humiliated and the Marine Corps embarrassed.
President Obama held a press conference. And as much as it was an absolute waste of time, it accomplished two things that may prove to be self-inflicted, dooming White House errors to cover up Benghazi.
First, Ed Henry, senior White House correspondent for the Fox News Channel, asked a question the president would not answer. Yesterday morning I published short commentary, more a call for public action, titled, 'Mr. President, Yes or No?' http://acoloneloftruth.blogspot.com/2012/11/mr-president-yes-or-no.html
That commentary is rapidly becoming popular - for what it points out and for asking citizens to not spectate but to step forward and participate, to contact the three Senators - McCain, Graham, Ayotte (links provided) - who are leading the quest for truth about Benghazi. And to contact their own Representative and Senator, too.
Surprisingly, but pleasantly so, Mr. Henry kindly tweeted a "thank you." Well, he deserves whatever support I, and all angry Americans, can render and far more. He asked the tough question, the right question. And must continue to do just that.
Second, President Obama, known for thin skin, got a little puffy and testy when defending the work of Susan Rice (U. S. Ambassador to the United Nations) - whom, apparently, he'd dispatched to the Sunday morning news programs to mislead America about what happened in Benghazi. In a moment of gallantry, he said she did not know anything about Benghazi (then why dispatch her with knowingly false information?) so if the Senators wanted to go after anyone they were to come after him. That was a mistake. That's exactly what they are going to do.
So where does all this stand?
Two four-star generals became high drama for a couple of days to take the spotlight off the president.
General Petraeus is more than a bit player. He knew exactly what happened in Benghazi when it happened and was not truthful about it. And we know why - he was amidst a great big personal mess, adultery, and was delusional thinking he could escape. Maybe he was "promised" it'd go away. Who knows. But the minds of back-stabbing politicians had other ideas. They used him through the election. And then the general was expendable.
General Allen may prove to be nothing more than a bit player who, fortuitously for the president, got dragged into the mess, and only because he may have done something remarkably stupid. Though that's to be confirmed. Again, who knows. If he indeed spent considerable time distracted from his duties (corresponding with whomever and regardless as to what) then questions of dereliction of duty follow. That's a serious deduction and charge when men and women are in combat.
But no further comment about General Allen is in order for he, as noted earlier, is entitled to be treated fairly. Should he be proved innocent of any misbehavior or conduct unbecoming how does he recover from being skewered in public - on hearsay and leaked comments by anonymous official sources?
Now, is anyone else wondering about other flag officers at Central Command in Tampa, Florida, and elsewhere, working the worry beads? I am, for certain.
As for President Obama, he, despite denying and citing he can't say anything about Benghazi due to ongoing investigations, has a problem. A big problem. And adding to the problem was his trip to Las Vegas for a campaign stop - where he made comments about the four murders that were void of presidential decorum. He has not been truthful about what he knew when about Benghazi and what he did about it. Simple as that. Were he not trying to hide something heinous, to include a major national security breach and possibly endangering America, he would have answered Ed Henry's question with one word - either "yes" or "no." He did not. In reply he spoke 195 words and "yes" and "no" were not among them.
Investigations are in process. Hearings are underway. The behind-closed-doors sessions in the name of protecting national secrets and security come first. Public hearings to follow - less fascinating than the intimate sessions but enlightening nonetheless. They'll give Americans a good sense of what happened, who failed, who failed miserably, who is lying, and who is done with public service.
There are sundry problems. But to be brief, at this point it looks like President Obama and others (perhaps the Vice President) orchestrated a carefully calculated plan to deceive, to lie to the American citizenry, and continued with that plan despite it steadily falling apart as what actually happened in Benghazi began to take shape.
At the heart of all of this is integrity. Integrity is an absolute. There are no shades of gray. Not one. A person - black, white, brown, yellow, red, or whatever - either has integrity or a person does not.
In this incredible saga - beyond the imagination of any screen play writer or novelist, that encircles the senseless, preventable murders of four fellow citizens who had devoted their life to serving country, the main attraction and star distractions, by logical inference, appear to have an integrity problem.
As noted in Monday's comment it's going to get uglier. And it has. And it's going to get uglier still as sworn testimony flows. Breaking news later today or over the weekend would not be a surprise.
The generals have and will pay a professional price though probably not as high as it should be, if guilty. No matter what, the personal price paid will exceed all.
As for President Obama, some savvy legal analysts who've been around a while and have seen just about everything - though admitting to nothing of this scope, are cautiously mumbling impeachment proceedings. To that, naturally.
Say what you will. Side with whomever you choose. But somebody is lying. And it might be everybody.
But for now who's paying the price? We are. In pride, and in the pocketbook.
Last night an email from longtime friends arrived just before lights out. They had read the day's commentary and replied they had acted by sending the Senators notes and sending the commentary forward to their contacts list. Their closing was, "Keep the faith, Andy." And that made me smile.
More than 29 years ago General Robert H. Barrow, USMC - 27th commandant - penned those words, "Keep the faith!", to me during some tough times. To my knowledge the General never modified nor cancelled those orders. And that's not going to happen for he died late October 2008. So, as every Marine knows - you follow last orders. Continue to march!
And that, for what it's worth, is my take, today, on the calamity. Standing by to bear witness to integrity.
Neither an attorney nor ethics expert am I. But for more than 26 years in uniform, like all Marines, I lived, preached, and enforced our Marine Corps honor code - outlined in three simple words but complex traits that ever test the human character - our Corps / Core Values: Honor. Courage. Commitment. To my knowledge, they were not intended to be just a bumper sticker. Though if that was the intent, I did not get the word.
That those elemental necessary aspects of leadership, from bottom to top, have caused high-ranking men to stumble not surprising but sorely disappointing. What are volunteers of lesser rank to think?
Our country deserves better. And better is available. No man, nor woman, is irreplaceable. In fact, nary a step missed. Again, continue to march!