After it emerged yesterday that CIA director David Petraeus was resigning from his post as a repercussion of his "extremely poor judgment" involving an affair with his married biographer Paula Broadwell, the managing editor of Foreign Policy dug up and Tweeted a link to a letter written to Chuck Klosterman of The New York Times' column "The Ethicist" in July. The name of the man is withheld, and any connection with Petraeus and Broadwell is pure conjecture—but even if it's a long shot, some of the general facts (and the timeline) add up.
My wife is having an affair with a government executive. His role is to manage a project whose progress is seen worldwide as a demonstration of American leadership. (This might seem hyperbolic, but it is not an exaggeration.)
The writer says that the executive isn't likely aware that he knows of the infidelity, and asks Klosterman whether he should wait a few years before confronting his wife on the matter because "[the executive] is engaged in work that I am passionate about and is absolutely the right person for the job. I strongly feel that exposing the affair will create a major distraction that would adversely impact the success of an important effort."
While sympathetic to the letter-writer's plight and his honorable intentions to stay the course until the unnamed executive completed his "project," Klosterman calls him out on his motive for writing in to the Times:
I halfway suspect... you want specific people to read this column and deduce who is involved and what's really going on behind closed doors (without actually addressing the conflict in person). That's not ethical, either.
Even as the rumor gains traction on Twitter, skeptics at Slate argue that heading the CIA would hardly be referred to as "a project." And furthermore—"What 'government executive' is not having an affair with some guy's wife?" All valid points. So, really, who the fuck knows? We'll keep you posted.
'A Message From Beyond' [The Ethicist/NYT]
'Did Broadwell's Husband Write to the Times About Her Affair with Petraeus?' [Slate]