Before former CIA Director David Petraeus lays his head down to sleep on the eve of his closed-door testimony in front of members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, perhaps he should watch the climactic scene (below) from the 1992 film Scent of a Woman, starring Al Pacino and Chris O’Donnell.
**SPOILER ALERT** (But heck, the movie IS twenty years old so just watch it anyway)
Retired Marine Lt. Col. Frank Slade, embittered by a career wrought with bad decisions and mistakes, one of which blinded him, is played by Al Pacino. Prior to this scene, Charlie Simms (played by Chris O’Donnell) prevented Slade from committing suicide after the latter had reached the end of his rope and was no longer able to deal with his internal demons that tormented him over all that he had done wrong.
Soon thereafter, Charlie was on his way to being railroaded in front of his school’s board for not snitching on a classmate that had defaced the Dean’s car. O’Donnell’s character was the face of integrity and Pacino ultimately defended him in front of the board and student body but not before wrestling with the decision to do so. After dropping him off at the school, Pacino’s character was ready to move on but turned back to defend Charlie. He was at a crossroads and he chose the right path. In so doing, he found his own integrity.
This film seems to serve as a metaphor for Petraeus and fallen Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods, whose legacy will be that of a man who had both integrity and honor in spades. Neither Woods’ family nor the American people have gotten the truth about what happened. The former Navy SEAL allegedly defied an order to stand down and did what was right anyway. Some have even called that report into question. Petraeus can clear that up in testimony.
In this metaphor, Tyrone Woods is represented by Charlie Simms, who was a young and honorable man.
When Petraeus appears in front of those committees, he must decide which Frank Slade he is going to be – the one who dropped Simms off and never looked back or the one who turned back to defend a younger man’s honor and, in so doing, restore his own.
Ben Barrack is a talk show host and author of the book, Unsung Davids, which features a chapter on Walid Shoebat