The Petraeus Effect and Stephen King’s Andre Linoge

By Ben Barrack

CIA Director David Petraeus was forced to resign in a meeting with the President one day after the re-election of Barack Obama on November 6, 2012, over revelations of the former’s extra-marital affair with Biographer Paula Broadwell, but multiple news sources reported that top officials at both the FBI and the Justice Department knew of this affair months earlier. The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and National Review all reported as much. WSJ actually reported that Attorney General Eric Holder knew of the affair personally at least several weeks before Petraeus resigned.

We also know that the FBI learned of the affair because in May of 2012, a woman named Jill Kelley reported threatening emails coming from Broadwell. Emails were tied back to Petraeus and the administration had some dirt on the CIA Director.

Last month, we learned the extent to which Petraeus was unwilling to play ball when it came to the crafting of then UN Ambassador Susan Rice’s September 16th talking points.

Via Stephen Hayes at the Weekly Standard:

In an email at 2:44 p.m. (on Saturday, September 15th) to Chip Walter, head of the CIA’s legislative affairs office, Petraeus expressed frustration at the new, scrubbed talking points, noting that they had been stripped of much of the content his agency had provided. Petraeus noted with evident disappointment that the policymakers had even taken out the line about the CIA’s warning on Cairo. The CIA director, long regarded as a team player, declined to pick a fight with the White House and seemed resigned to the propagation of the administration’s preferred narrative. The final decisions about what to tell the American people rest with the national security staff, he reminded Walter, and not with the CIA.

More specifically, in an email to his deputy on September 15th, Petraeus wrote the following about the suggested talking points:

“Frankly, I’d just as soon not use this.”

Here is Charles Krauthammer – one week after Obama’s re-election and a few days after Petraeus resigned – making it clear that he believed the administration released the details of the affair because Petraeus was not on the same page relative to Benghazi. In light of what has been revealed about the NSA Surveillance program, we may have a lead for investigators to follow:

Here is Lt. Col. Ralph Peters (Ret.) in an interview with Fox News Channel’s Neil Cavuto very shortly after Petraeus’ resignation (think NSA):

In reality, these things are not new and should not be shocking. It would indeed be foolish to believe that bureaucracies don’t learn from experience.

Via the New York Times:

…in his decades-long reign as the F.B.I.’s first director, J. Edgar Hoover sometimes directed agents to spy improperly on the sex lives of public figures and then used the resulting information to pressure or blackmail them.

If the Obama administration was able to take down the CIA Director because of his emails, ask yourselves how many Congressmen and Senators have dirty little secrets they’d do almost anything to prevent from coming to light? Check out this exchange between Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Attorney General Holder on June 6th (in light of what happened to Petraeus, all 535 members of Congress took notice of this):

Concurrent with these developments, we see that alleged conservatives like Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), whom talk show host Mark Levin eviscerated, are pushing an immigration agenda that mirrors that of the Obama administration at a time when this scandal-ridden administration should be reeling, with Republicans uniting in opposition against it.

Yet, instead, Obama looks on as Republican House leadership pledges an immigration bill while Senate Republicans – save for a tiny few – offer virtually no resistance. Some, like Rubio, are pushing it like it’s their top agenda.

It would be irresponsible to accuse every congressman and senator of having secrets they’d fight to the death to avoid being revealed. Conversely, it would be dangerously naive to assume there are none.

Something is very, very wrong.

Now, for the Andre Linoge metaphor. In 1999, a Stephen King movie entitled The Storm of the Century was released. In it, a demon (Linoge) – perhaps Satan himself – descended on an island off the coast of Maine and terrorized residents with private information he had on all of them. Linoge put all of their dirty little secrets under the public spotlight; they couldn’t stand it. The inhabitants would do anything to make him go away; dirty laundry was being aired and each was being turned on the other.

At a town hall meeting, Linoge explained what it would take for the residents to be rid of him. Due to his old age, Linoge was in desperate need of an heir to his evil throne so he gave the island a choice. Either he would kill every child on the island or the residents would decide which set of parents would hand their child over to Linoge.

In this metaphor, Linoge represents the surveillance of all Americans by an administration that has proven both capable of and willing to use data mined from that surveillance to destroy lives. The question Congressmen and Senators must ask themselves are these:

Should we cut our losses and give the devil what he wants?

Should we call his bluff?


Should we fight for what’s right, consequences be damned? If each human life is to be viewed as a sacred end in and of itself, instead of as a means to a perceived better end, the answer is rather simple. In this metaphor, perhaps doing so would have caused Linoge’s death by starving him of his power, which would have been a far better option:

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