Turtle on a Fencepost: A Fable for Our Time

Turtle on a Fencepost: A Fable for Our Time
December 16, 2012

David L. Applegate

David Applegate is a Chicago-based trial lawyer and partner at the law firm of Williams Montgomery... (read full bio)

There are no coincidences in politics, it’s been said, so consider a series of recent coincidences:

First, according to the official White House chronology, the Commander in Chief of United States Armed Forces did not learn until the evening of the day he was safely re-elected that his head of the CIA, General David Petraeus, had been having an affair and was therefore a security risk, even though the FBI had reportedly known of the affair for months.

The next day, we are told, General Petraeus offered his resignation; that Thursday, the President accepted it; and that Friday – the usual day on which government officials release news they want to minimize – the White House announced the Petraeus resignation to the public. Yet if his affair had genuinely made Petraeus a security risk, then he should have been fired immediately, not left to linger until the administration found it politically convenient to do so.

It was suspicious enough that those in the know withheld this information until literally the day after the election. But even more suspiciously, the Petraeus resignation came the week before he was scheduled to testify before a Senate committee on what the CIA knew – and when it knew it – about the September 11 anniversary terrorist attack on the U. S Embassy in Benghazi, Libya. That attack, you may recall, left the U. S. ambassador and three other Americans dead, and the administration had spun it until after the election as a spontaneous uprising spawned by a YouTube video.

To his credit – and that of Sen. Diane Feinstein and her committee – Petraeus did eventually testify. But his star power was diminished and the information he gave the committee behind closed doors was overshadowed by the media titillation about the General’s dalliance with his over-adoring biographer, his age-appropriate wife, and the possible involvement of a yet a third attractive woman. From a Capitol City in which press leaks are a way of life, we still don’t know just what the General had to say or whether his testimony supported or contradicted the official party line.

Flash forward to the Friday of the week before Christmas, this December 14.

Yet another high-ranking administration official – former First Lady and Senator, and current U. S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton – was also scheduled to testify the following week concerning her knowledge of what happened at Benghazi. Yet remarkably, for the first time in nearly four years of globe-trotting, she suddenly reportedly found herself “exhausted,” purportedly passed out, and supposedly suffered a concussion.

Now she’s of course resting comfortably at home; conveniently, although her testimony was not scheduled until Thursday, presumptive Secretary of State-to-be John Kerry of Massachusetts has already determined that she will be unable to testify. In her place will be lower level functionaries, sparing the Secretary of State the predicament of having to choose between feigning ignorance and possibly lying under oath.

Color me skeptical, but if this had happened during the administration of Richard Nixon, for example, or even that of George W. Bush, the press would be all over it and the House of Representatives would be busily scheduling impeachment hearings.

Under the current administration, however – which falsely promised to be the most transparent in history – the media remain remarkably uncurious, the House remains too busy battling the President over how much to raise rich people’s taxes, and the silence overall is deafening.

Of course, it could all be a series of remarkable coincidences. President Obama may have been too busy golfing and campaigning these past four years to have read his daily intelligence briefings, the FBI may not have wanted to ruin his election-day party, and Hillary may really be sick. At least nobody’s plane has crashed in Bosnia, no missing paperwork has shown up in the White House living quarters, and no bodies have yet been found in Fort Marcy Park.

But as Hillary herself once said, if you find a turtle on a fencepost, it didn’t get there by itself.

David L. Applegate

David Applegate is a Chicago-based trial lawyer and partner at the law firm of Williams Montgomery... (read full bio)