Conflict & Justice

How the NYT's Ethicist column got wrapped up in the Petraeus scandal


General David Petraeus(L), former head of the allied forces in Afghanistan, takes the oath of office as the next director of the Central Intelligence Angency from US Vice President Joe Biden on September 6, 2011 during a ceremony at the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC.



The New York Times Ethicist column, written by author Chuck Klosterman, may have published news of CIA Director David Petraeus' affair long before his announcement shocked the world on Friday. 

There is a theory circulating that Petraeus' mistress and biographer Paula Broadwell's husband Scott wrote to Klosterman in the July 13 issue of the New York Times magazine seeking advice about his wife's affair, in a letter titled "My Wife's Lover." 

"My wife is having an affair with a government executive," the letter reads. "His role is to manage a project whose progress is seen worldwide as a demonstration of American leadership....He is engaged in work that I am passionate about and is absolutely the right person for the job."

"I strongly feel that exposing the affair will create a major distraction that would adversely impact the success of an important effort," the column continues. "My issue: Should I acknowledge this affair and finally force closure? Should I suffer in silence for the next year or two for a project I feel must succeed? Should I be 'true to my heart' and walk away from the entire miserable situation and put the episode behind me?" 

More from GlobalPost: Gen. Petraeus resigns over affair with Paula Broadwell

As many have pointed out, the timing of the column lines up eerily well with the timing of the affair, which began when Petraeus retired from the Army in August 2011 and ended months ago, the Wall Street Journal reported

Klosterman also seems to pick up on Broadwell's motivations for penning his letter in his response, writing: "The fact that you’re willing to accept your wife’s infidelity for some greater political good is beyond honorable. In fact, it’s so over-the-top honorable that I’m not sure I believe your motives are real. Part of me wonders why you’re even posing this question, particularly in a column that is printed in The New York Times." 

The Ethicist also advised that the writer "not expose the affair in any high-profile way."  

Until many questions are answered, we expect the rumor mill will continue. 

More from GlobalPost: Chuck Klosterman is the New York Times Magazine's new advice columnist

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