I may have awakened him. The late James Jesus Angleton, once the chief of CIA counterintelligence, sounded kinda groggy to me after I got him–loud and clear!–on my famously untrustworthy ouija board. Of course I have no idea whether he gets to sleep at all. I don’t quite know exactly “where” he is, after all, and he doesn’t answer direct questions on the subject. Anyway, there he was, and I started right in.
ML: So what am I supposed to think about Petraeus?
JJA: That you’re living in a country where espionage is rampant.
JJA: Have you read those stories about the “software breakdowns” in the Romney get-out-the-vote program “Orca”?
ML: Sure, it didn’t work, passwords didn’t work, it was a gigantic snafu.
JJA: Uh huh. And has anyone raised the possibility that the Romney organization was penetrated in order to introduce “fatal errors” in their computers?
ML: Actually I don’t believe I’ve seen that in print, although I’m sure somebody must have thought of it.
JJA: I mean, the Obama people know all about Stuxnet, right?
ML: Yes, the killer worm that was fed into the computers that run the centrifuges in the Iranian nuclear program.
JJA: So if politics is war by other means, why shouldn’t they use similar methods in the election?
ML: Haven’t you inverted that? Didn’t Clausewitz say that “war is the continuation of politics by different means”? You’re the literary expert, but still…
JJA: I expected you’d like the inversion. Anyway, “Orca” is a good case for espionage, don’t you think?
ML: Ok, I’ll buy that. But what does it have to do with the Petraeus story?
JJA: Everything. Both are potential espionage stories. On Petraeus, for starters, we’re told that the FBI was investigating some “broader” thing, and they just happened to come across emails between him and her. As if the bureau weren’t running an investigation into Petraeus all along.
ML: Why would they do that?
JJA: Jeez, nobody knows anything any more! (coughing again, he’d probably lit up a Camel). It’s routine. The FBI always monitors the top levels of CIA, especially the director, any time there is reason for them to worry about a national security counterintelligence matter. Everybody in the business knows that. And all they need to open one of those investigations is a complaint, or a tip, from anybody. You can’t imagine how many hours are devoted to checking out anonymous leads. I can give you lots of recent stories about promotions and nominations being held up because some fabulist sent a little whisper across the transom of an inspector general’s office…
ML: And the CIA guys know that? Petraeus knew that?
JJA: Of course. And he also knew what any moderate geek knows, namely that gmail is an open book. Any skilled nerd can read most anybody’s emails. We don’t ever use email here.
ML: You’ve got computers?
JJA: Indeed. What do you think that “cloud” thing is all about anyway? We control it.
ML: I should have known! So Petraeus knew that people were reading, or at least could read, all his passionate emails to his lover.
JJA: Yes. And he knew enough about such matters to realize that when the counterintel people became aware of the affair, the bureau would instantly worry that he could be blackmailed. So they would go back through all his emails, and all hers as well, to everyone.