Yes, Petraeus' adultery IS a scandal
Note: This was submitted to the Washington Post as a letter to the editor on November 21.
I wish I could say that Dana Milbank's editorial was shocking departure from traditional morality. Sadly, as sexual depravity has become more and more commonplace, I cannot even do that.
It has been determined that Petraeus' adultery presented no "risk" to national security. But the reason there are rules against it is obvious: A CIA official can easily be blackmailed by someone with knowledge of the affair. Adultery is a security risk, as we saw in the Moscow embassy scandal in the 1980's.
But even if we could be certain that adultery would not threaten national security, it should still be prohibited for government employees for two reasons.
First, we should expect a higher standard of behavior from our public officials. They should serve as example for us of high moral character. Furthermore, if the CIA director's wife cannot trust him, how can these United States trust him with our secrets? Answer: We cannot.
Second, rules against adultery are a merciful protection to the aggrieved spouse. In this chattering about "consenting adults" the spouse is often forgotten. But the fact remains that Petraeus has a wife who was harmed in a real way by his adultery.