“You know you should be in prison. They should have put you in jail,” Army veteran Sam Grier said as the former Army commander walked away from a courthouse in Charlotte. The reason for Grier’s taunt? “Because he compromised national security for a piece of a–,” the veteran told the Observer.
The heckler’s history wasn’t far from the truth: Petraeus shared classified material with his biographer and mistress, Paula Broadwell. The indiscretion was bad enough, but the means by which it was carried out was pure amateur hour. In a technique “known to teenagers and terrorists alike,” as the Associated Press put it, Petraeus and Broadwell left drafts of intimate messages for one other in a Gmail draft folder.
“It’s the sort of measure you take if you fear there’s a risk that someone will look in on you,” The Washington Post wrote in 2012. “And it’s been around for quite some time, which may be why the FBI investigators were not fooled by it.”
This was the guy the nation made director of the CIA? What had gone wrong? Was he mad for love? Overconfident? Or just a fool?
“Since Petraeus’s resignation, many have strained to understand how such a celebrated general could have behaved so badly,” The Post wrote. “Some have speculated that an exhausting decade of war impaired his judgment. Others wondered if Petraeus was never the Boy Scout he appeared to be.”
Former defense secretary Robert Gates offered another explanation.
“There is something about a sense of entitlement and of having great power that skews people’s judgment,” he said.