The scandal that’s swallowed the career of General David Petraeus and threatens to do the same to that of General John Allen, took a turn through family court Monday. Read about it here (New York Post, 11/13/12), here (Reuters, 11/13/12) and here (CBS, 11/13/12).
It seems that Petraeus and Allen each wrote letters of support for one Natalie Khawam in her bid to regain custody of her son. Khawam lost custody to her husband Grayson Wolfe earlier this year, but had requested that the court modify its order. It was in that context that the two generals submitted their letters in September of this year, on four-star general’s letterhead, praising Ms. Khawam’s maternal abilities.
I’ve never understood why pursuing an extramarital affair should automatically disqualify a person from employment in high-profile government jobs. Such an affair is morally wrong and certainly reflects badly on the people involved, but surely pristine morality can’t be a requirement for every job. Of course we’re told that certain jobs, like Director of the CIA are too sensitive and that an extramarital affair can risk divulging state secrets, etc. My argument would be that it should be shown that the affiar in fact did so before the person should be forced to resign, and it may be that in Petraeus’ case, exactly that happened. Supposedly, his paramour, Paula Broadwell, had access to military documents beyond her security clearance.
Generals Displayed Bad Judgment in Supporting KhawamBut if all that reflects poorly on Petraeus’ judgment and character, his support for Natalie Khawam in her custody fight does as well. The judge in Khawam’s divorce and custody battle seems to have understood her character much better than Petraeus does. According to the Post,
A judge in November 2011 gave Wolfe sole custody of the couple’s son after finding that Khawam, a lawyer, repeatedly lied under oath and filed bogus domestic-violence and child-abuse claims against her husband after their one-year marriage began crumbling in 2009.Into the bargain, she can’t hold a job and seems to be perpetually in financial trouble. CBS reported,
That judge also found that Khawam routinely defied court orders to let the child see his dad and sent harassing e-mails to Wolfe’s friends and business partners that “excoriated Mr. Wolfe for being a horrible father and husband.”
The judge blasted Khawam for giving false evidence, and noted that a court-ordered shrink had found her domestic-violence allegations to be “part of an ever-expanding set of sensational accusations . . . that are so numerous, so extraordinary and [so] distorted that they defy any common-sense view of reality.”
The judge also noted that she “is a psychologically unstable person.”
Court documents state that Khawam “was terminated from at least four consecutive positions of employment within the first five years following her graduation from law school, is a psychologically unstable person whose unsteady moral and ethical compass and apparent lack of awareness of her own shortcomings make it impossible for her successfully to navigate her surroundings in a consistent and sustainable way.”Why would Petraeus and Allen go to bat for a person like Khawam? That’s anyone’s guess at this point, but it’s clear that both generals had social ties with Jill Kelley, Khawam’s twin sister, who is unversally described as a Tampa “socialite.” Kelley and her husband who’s a cancer surgeon seem to have insinuated themselves into Tampa high society of which Petraeus and Allen were a part. Through their connection with Kelley, they met Khawam.
…Khawam filed for bankruptcy on April 14 citing liabilities of $3.6 million including $800,000 owed to her sister, $600,000 to a Tampa businessman, and $53,000 to the IRS. In another court case, Khawam is suing a former employer for alleged sexual harassment by a colleague and other charges. The employer denied all charges and accused Khawam of perjury and bankruptcy fraud.
Whether there was a sexual relationship between either of the two men and Khawam scarcely seems to matter. What’s clear is that she is a deeply flawed individual who seems very much like a woman trading on her looks and with an imperfect grasp on morality and possibly reality. That the Director of the CIA and the country’s top general in Afghanistan couldn’t see what’s obvious to one family court judge, strongly suggests they need to find different lines of work. Having an extramarital affair is inappropriate, supporting Natalie Khawam’s maternal qualities is just stupid.
Thanks to Jim, Kevin and others for the heads-up.