The Petraeus scandal refers to a leaked out affair between him and Paula Broadwell, his biographer, which has made a lot of headline in recent months, and has led to Petraeus resignation from his capacity at the CIA. It all started with the investigation into anonymous e-mails that led to the exposure of an affair between the former CIA director and Paula Broadwell. Undeniably, the scandal had far-reaching effects, because it damaged the reputation of all those involved and caused strains in their families. According to some sources, anonymous emails had been sent to General Allen, stationed at Tampa’s Central Command, warming him about Kelly who could damage his reputation. Jin Kelley, a liaison at MacDill Airforce Base, also claimed to receive certain anonymous emails, which were under another name, warning her about hanging out with ambassadors, generals and other government officials.
Kelley took the matter seriously and went to Frederick Humphries II, a local FBI agent, for help about these emails. It was a situation worth investigation. As it came out, Broadwell was pinpointed as the author of the emails. This whole issue led to various questions being asked regarding national security and the conduct of military personnel. Nonetheless, it is clear that the scandal has had devastating effects on all those involved, as confirmed by Stephen Kranz to the magazine “People”, Broadwell’s brother. Clearly, she is ashamed of what has transpired and is sorry for the pain she has brought upon her family and Petraeus’s.
Nonetheless, a fascinating fact about this case is how the FBI looked into Kelley’s email account to understand the person behind her harassment, which then led them to the discovery of the emails between Allen and Kelley. It is also fascinating to understand how they proved that these emails actually came from Paula Broadwell. Apparently, the FBI had to rely on the ECPA (Electronic Communications Privacy Act) to legitimize their investigation. According to the bureau, a new email account and an open Wi-Fi was simply not enough for Broadwell to stay anonymous while sending this emails. In view of this, all the protections from unwarranted government scrutiny are limited.
Moving away from such an idea, the scandal became famous majorly because of two things: unethical behavior and the use of emails. Practically, lapses in ethics go hand in hand with the email. Unethical behavior is rampant in all social platforms and means of communication for several reasons. Firstly, it is extremely easy to engage in unethical behavior when using a computer interface compared to a person. The fact that there is the lack of considerate human connection leads people to forget things like fairness, generosity, and politeness. Secondly, the email and other social platforms are rather new and continue being innovated every other time. Therefore, no one has really instituted a sound and effective social foundation for using computer related communication. According to Gibbs (2012), this whole saga raises the issue of computer ethics education.
Undeniably, the Petraeus sex scandal has created several grave concerns. Firstly, it has reinforced the professional glass ceiling for the women. Roth (2012) views that, this consequence is the most sweeping yet overlooked. It is probably right to state that the scandal will hurt career and business opportunities for the womenfolk. Every American citizen had their individual judgments concerning all the entities involved, but in view of the affair between General Petraeus and Paula Broadwell, no one clearly understands what was happening in their personal lives or respective marriages at the moment. However, what sticks out clearly, is that both entities had families and a lot at stake.
Nonetheless, despite Broadwell’s accomplishments and the risks involved, which include being crowned a Masters Degree at Harvard, she comes out as the type of female who uses her femininity to achieve gains in the business circle. A lot has been speculated about her targeting General Petraeus to get ahead in her career. However, as Rosen (2012) argues, such allegations and speculations tend to be one sided and unfair. If she were a male, people would call it networking. It is human nature for people to seek out contacts, mentorship, social circle, and business dealings with other successful individuals in the society, who will help them advance in life. It is necessary in career growth and advancement; therefore, it should be taken positively. However, the society seems to be biased when it comes to women doing this.
Henry Blodget, a columnist at Business Insider states that, Broadwell is a “nobody” that users her charms to lure a powerful man and bring him down. Such thinking belittles everything that Broadwell has accomplished even before the scandal. According to Shane (2012), the public have also had a variety of mixed reactions about this whole issue. What is the main lesson from this saga? That women can never advance in their careers without getting the support of powerful men in the society? Apparently, the whole nation is in jeopardy if men and women cannot work side by side.
As it appears, it is not only the men that create barriers for women to advance in career or life. Women too contribute to their own downfall. In the Baltimore Sun, Susan Reimer writes that people should learn ways to get past bimbo eruption. She was writing in view of Petraeus’s resignation. As it appears, Reimer calls Broadwell a bimbo despite all the achievements she had achieved so far before the scandal. Women, just like men, should be able to interact with successful men at any time to advance in life. Unless women became more successful and powerful, many cases of sexual scandal will continue to arise even in the near future. As stated by Johns & Metzger (2012), Jill Kelley, together with her legal team, has launched a press to defend her reputation. Her legal team blamed the government for the leaks of personal information to the media.
Married or not, many people in the world today use digital communication to introduce titillation and stealth to various forms of relationships. A huge number of people, especially those born in this era of technology, spend a lot of time and energy to consume and look for emotional intimacy on the internet. Email, tweets, and Facebook postings have made the traditional forms of communication as inconvenient. This, at times, can be disastrous. In the scandal involving David Petraeus and John Allen, the email led to exposure of the sex scandals. Many people have written about how the exposure could have been avoided if they used other clandestine ways to exchange their emails, for instance, the use of encryption software.
In a number of ways, the use of the email was convenient for both Petraeus and Broadwell. The old rules that used to govern social interactions have ceased to apply. According to Internet studies by psychologists, the use of the Internet show what can be called as the online disinhibition effect, which means that individuals can act in more extreme ways while using these social platforms than when in person. This effect, couple with jealousy, appears to have forced Paula Broadwell to send a number of anonymous emails to Kelly, threatening her about interacting with Petraeus. The whole affair could have not come out if it were not the disinhibition effect. Nonetheless, the public, in condemning all those involved in the scandal, have shied away from the real issues: social media can be both positive and negative.