The General Petraeus- Paul Broadwell – Jill Kelley – General Allen scandal in the media has died down, but it took a tremendous toll on four individuals and their families- and for what?
General Petraeus resigned after news of his past relationship with Broadwell went public, and General Allen’s character and conduct were called into question publicly. The disposition of the investigation and allegations he may have shared classified information improperly did not make front page headlines like the suggestion he had engaged in improper conduct had, but he was found to have violated no rules of conduct. He was cleared, but his name and reputation have been tarnished by the media coverage of leaks that should not have occurred.
And Kelley, who felt frightened by e-mails from an unknown person, had her life served up on a silver platter in the media – or what media innuendo and mis-statements suggested was her life.
Broadwell, the woman who presumably sent Kelley the e-mails, was never charged criminally because Kelley declined to press charges. The prosecutors state they could have charged Broadwell anyway, but without the chief witness wanting to press charges, they dropped the case.
So four families’ lives were impacted because two individuals had had an affair that was probably nobody’s business but their own and one of the two then engaged in improper, and possibly illegal, conduct. And by the time it was over in the media, Kelley, Allen, and their respective families, had been dragged through public scrutiny and scrutiny of their private e-mails because of what Broadwell had allegedly done.
It would be easy to point the finger at Broadwell, because had she not sent e-mails to Kelley, this likely never would have happened, but the federal investigator who leaked the story and the media also need to take a lot of responsibility here. In an interview with Howard Kurtz, Kelley denied a lot of what was published by the media.
And in an OpEd published yesterday in the Washington Post, the Kelley’s write:
Ours is a story of how the simple act of quietly appealing to legal authorities for advice on how to stop anonymous, harassing e-mails can result in a victim being re-victimized. The word “victim” is, we know, better reserved for those who have suffered far worse than we pray we’ll ever experience. But the reality is that we sought protection, not attention, and received the inverse.
Maybe you can’t easily relate to Kelley or the other families involved, but any one of us could find our entire e-mail history and lives the target of a government investigation and fodder for the media. Are there really enough legal protections in place to protect our privacy? I don’t think so.