By Matthew Rothschild on November 14, 2012

There is one thing about the Petraeus scandal that bothers me a lot.

And that's the ability of the FBI to take down any person in the country on the flimsy basis of their private, consensual behavior.

In the case of Petraeus, it now seems that one low-level FBI agent in particular pushed the Petraeus investigation forward. And this FBI agent appears to have had some kind of a relationship with the woman who was allegedly receiving threatening phone calls from Petraeus's mistress. The same woman also had voluminous e-mail exchanges with General John Allen, the lead commander in Afghanistan.

This is the stuff of a bad soap opera.

But what makes it a matter of concern is that there seems to be no restraint on the part of the FBI to use all the surveillance means at its disposal to go after someone when no serious crime seems to have occurred.

I had the same reaction to the Eliot Spitzer takedown, and I've never believed the cover story: that the FBI or the Treasury Department, doing routine inspection of money transfers, just happened to come upon Spitzer's money trail to his prostitute. It seems much more likely either that his political enemies or, more likely, the titans on Wall Street found the dirt on him and turned it over to the feds. Oh, I know what Spitzer did was illegal and hypocritical; but it hardly should have caused an FBI investigation.

Someone must have prompted it.

Just as someone prompted the Petraeus investigation.

So I've got a couple questions: Who's calling the shots over at the FBI? And what checks are in place there to prevent biased investigations from going forward?

We need answers to these, or we'll all be vulnerable to witch-hunts.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story "The Poetry of Protest."

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter.

Now's a great time to subscribe to The Progressive magazine. You'll get a FREE copy of our 2013 "Hidden History of the United States" calendar when you subscribe for just $14.97 for the whole year. That's 75% off the newsstand price, and the calendar is yours for free. Just click here.

Add new comment

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

More

Subscribe to The Progressive and Get A Free 2015 Calendar

President Obama's executive order protects people like my grandmother.

How do progressives regroup after the Republican victories of 2014? It starts at the very local level, says Scott...

Dubbed “Ferguson to Madison,” the rally drew striking social parallels between the two cities.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

Public School Shakedown

Progressive Media Project

Newsletter