Petraeus, The Political Class And The Surveillance State

My friend Ray McGovern made a cogent observation about Washington’s latest scandal: 

A day after the surprise announcement that CIA Director David Petraeus was resigning because of marital infidelity, the pundits continue to miss the supreme irony. None other than the head of the CIA (and former bemedaled four-star general) has become the first really big fish netted by the intrusive monitoring of the communications of American citizens implemented after 9/11.

We’ve also seen some carping about the FBI’s notification process by Members of Congress:

Representative Peter King, Republican chairman of the House of Representatives’ Homeland Security Committee, said in an interview on MSNBC: “It’s hard to believe this went on for four or five months at this level without the president or somebody in the White House being told about it by the FBI. I would have thought the FBI had an absolute obligation to tell the president when this type of investigation is going on.”

In fact, DoJ’s guidelines on these types of investigations are quite clear:

SENSITIVE INVESTIGATIVE MATTER: an investigative matter involving the activities of a domestic public official or political candidate (involving corruption or a threat to the national security), religious or political organization or individual prominent in such an organization, or news media, or any other matter which, in the judgment of the official authorizing an investigation, should be brought to the attention of FBI Headquarters and other Department of Justice officials. 

King knows this perfectly well given how long he’s served in Congress. I think what he and others in the political class are truly frightened by is the belated realiztion of the implications of the Petreaus-Broadwell sex scandal. The surveillance state monster the executive and legivslative branches have created through the expanded use of “national security letters”, the PATRIOT Act, and FISA Amendments Act now make it possible for members of the political class itself to become ensnared by those same tools. 

Will this episode cause previous boosters of the Surveillance State to reconsider their position? I’m not holding my breath.


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