Columnist: How Gen. David Petraeus gets it, and Hillary Clinton still doesn’t

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 3, 2015

By John A. Tures

Contributing columnist

We recently learned that Hillary Clinton and David Petraeus recently shared secret emails. But they are bound by more than just a chain of communications. Both are accused of misusing their classified emails.

One has come clean, admitting mistakes. The other can’t seem to admit a mistake or tell the whole truth, and it’s only getting worse.

At one point, we thought Gen. David Petraeus would be a strong candidate for U.S. President. Certainly against this crop of GOP candidates, he’d be the clear front-runner. But then, he shared classified information, and, more than that, with his biographer-turned-mistress, Paula Broadwell, according to ABC News, undoing an impressive military career with plenty of political upside.

This week, Gen. Petraeus appeared before Congress. Though he was supposed to talk about fighting ISIS and crafting a Middle East policy, the former military hero chose to open his remarks with a candid admission, according to CBS.

“Four years ago, I made a serious mistake, one that brought discredit and pain to those closest to me,” he said. “There is nothing I can do to undo what I did. I can only say again how sorry I am to those I let down and then strive to go forward with a greater sense of humility and purpose, and with gratitude to those who stood with me during a very difficult chapter in my life.”

The amazing thing is, he’s already publicly admitted his flaws. But instead of offering the typical hubris, misdirection or blame shifting, he thought it was important to again show true remorse for his actions, as CNN noted.

“Petraeus on Tuesday called the ‘serious mistake’ he made one that ‘brought discredit on me and pain to those closest to me.’ He called the error a breach of trust and of ‘the values to which I had been committed through my life.’”

Gen. Petraeus is still a key White House Adviser on Iraq, given his incredible success at fixing that botched operation. He faced probation, and paid a six figure fine.

Hillary Clinton, the former New York senator and secretary of state, has been the anti-Petraeus. As of last week, she still was claiming to the Associated Press that she had done nothing wrong and her actions were allowed. Even in her “apology,” she was still claiming it was just a “mistake” according to Fox News.

Well, here’s what kind of “mistake” Clinton’s actions might cause. The U.S. national security agency chief, Admiral Mike Rogers, explained that it would really help the NSA if someone like Vladimir Putin or the supreme leader of Iran had done the same, using classified information on a private email, as noted in The Guardian.

When classified information gets in the hands of our enemies and rivals, bad things happen for our beleaguered intelligence forces. Sometimes, it leads to the capture, and possible deaths, of our agents and sources.

There’s no excuse for putting them in any more harm than they already face. Gen. Petraeus gets that it is wrong. But as Clinton blames Republicans for her woes on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” it’s clear she still just doesn’t get it.

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College. He may be reached at