Apparently, Paula Broadwell was not the only civilian with whom General David Petraeus was unusually cozy. The Washington Post reports that the General's "boundary issues" extended to hawkish civilian military analysts, Fred (works at the conservative American Enterprise Institute) and Kim (runs the Institute for the Study of War) Kagan, who
put their jobs at influential Washington think tanks on hold for almost a year to work for Gen. David H. Petraeus when he was the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan.The military provided desks, e-mail accounts and top-level security clearances in Kabul.
What's wrong with civilian consultants poring through classified intelligence reports, participating in senior-level strategy sessions, probing the assessments of field officers, and advising Petraeus about how to fight the war differently?
The proximity, access, and influence Peaches gave civilian friends while running the Afghan was is unprecedented.
It's bad enough that Petraeus allowed Paula Broadwell, his biographer-cum-mistress, access to sensitive (and it appears from the documents found on her computer, classified) information. BTW, despite having this on her personal computer, we also learned today that the investigation against her has closed with no Espionage Act charges. But perhaps that's because military fluffers from Broadwell to CIA heir apparent Michael Vickers get a pass on retaining or disclosing classified information, while only whistleblowers like Thomas Drake and John Kiriakou get prosecuted.
But now we have the Republican-darling Kagans, not to be confused with the Kelleys, who were allowed to serve as Petraeus' de facto senior advisers.
First, there's the accountability problem. The Kagans had none. The were neither elected nor appointed. Nor did they work their way up through military ranks. They were not bound by military rules or contractor rules and regulations. Like Broadwell, they had Petraeus' ear, without having to go through any military subordinates (the way things usually work in such relationships.) They had to report to no one but their buddy, Petraeus. Apparently, even senior White House and Pentagon war policy officials were unaware of the extent of their involvement. Yet they advocated substantive changes in U.S. war plans, serving as a huge push for the troop surge in Afghanistan--something for which Petraeus is largely given credit in Broadwell's book.
This bleeds into the second problem: contracting fraud.
Kim Kagan’s institute is funded in part by large defense contractors. During Petraeus’s tenure in Kabul, she sent out a letter soliciting contributions so the organization could continue its military work.It worked. At a 2011 General Dynamics dinner honoring Petraeus, she thanked executives from DynCorp International and CACI International (two major defense contractors who sit on her institute's corporate council and have business interests in the Afghanistan war) because their funding allowed her to assist Petraeus. In turn, Petraeus lavishly praised her think tank.
Third, there's the undue influence problem. The Kagans' GOP creds and connections helped to bolster support for the war among Republican congressmen. The revolving door between Petraeus, lobbyists and military defense contractors is dizzying, and merits much further investigation.
Fourth, the appearance problem. Petraeus' stunning lack of boundaries looks horrible and calls into question his judgment. As Petraeus even noted,
There’s some suspicion that there’s a hand up my back, and it makes my lips talk, and it’s operated by one of the Doctors Kagan.Not only did Petraeus make Jill Kelley and "honorary ambassador," he joked that for the Kagans, "We’re going to start issuing them combat service stripes."
This unholy relationship deserves more than just outrage. They deserve ethics investigations.