House essay: Weapon of mass distraction
Evan Solomon, host of CBC Radio's The House, reflects on the widening scandal surrounding the downfall of CIA director David Petraeus, in his weekly radio essay as heard on The House on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012.
The obsession with Skyfall is reaching a feverish pitch. Not the new James Bond spy film — I mean the sky falling on another spy, the former head of the CIA, Gen. David Petraeus.
The story is straight out of Hollywood: U.S. war hero resigns as the director of the CIA after his affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, is exposed.
Apparently Broadwell sent threatening emails to a woman named Jill Kelley, whom she thought was competing for Petraeus's attention.
Kelly, a socialite in Tampa, Fla., told her FBI friend Frederick Humphries about the emails and he investigated. However, Humphries was soon removed from the case because he sent Kelley shirtless photos of himself.
Then the kicker: The investigation uncovers that Kelley had exchanged between 20,000 and 30,000 pages of emails with Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. general in Afghanistan and the man who replaced Petraeus there. What started out as a love triangle between Petraeus, Broadwell and Kelly is now, with Allen and Humphries, well, a Pentagon of love...
Meanwhile, as the world continues to turn, Canada's defence minister, Peter Mackay, is, right now, hosting the fourth annual Halifax International Security Forum, a gathering of more than 300 delegates from all over the world to discuss urgent matters, such as the escalating conflict between Israel and Hamas, among others.
Mackay listed a series of major concerns in his speech Friday:
- "Terrorist networks" in the Sahel, Mali and Nigeria.
- "Growing tension from the Middle East to the South China Sea."
- "Constantly evolving technologies and threats to civilian populations."
- "We continue to bear witness to atrocities across the Middle East."
- Iran's ambitions to build a nuclear bomb.
That's a serious list of things worth paying attention to. But still, the Petraeus affair dominates headlines.
Yes, a sex story like this is hard to resist. I mean, when the top general in Afghanistan has time to exchange 20,000 pages of emails with a socialite — is his eye really on the ball?
Maybe cut down the personal screen time, Gen. Allen, and focus on the war!
This sad, sordid scandal is ruining careers, embarrassing qualified people and, let's just remember one thing, so far there has been no security risk revealed. None.
This is more about prudery than protection. But more importantly, if the Petraeus affair does pose a danger, it's not to national security. Like the new James Bond film, it is a weapon of mass distraction. And even with real wars breaking out, those are especially hard to defeat.