Some must live above reproachI wish to respond to Dr. David Harris’s letter regarding the private lives of public officials. I greatly respect Harris’ opinion, but in this case he is wrong to limit the realm of concern because it is a public official’s private life.
By: Gaye Larson, The Republican Eagle
To the Editor:
I wish to respond to Dr. David Harris’s letter regarding the private lives of public officials. I greatly respect Harris’ opinion, but in this case he is wrong to limit the realm of concern because it is a public official’s private life.
These people are “public” officials which entails responsibility beyond the personal level — especially for public officials with security clearances. And there is no inherent or personal right to a public or military position with the government. Obtaining and keeping a public or military position is contingent on following many rules.
Hopefully, in this instance with Gen. Petraeus’ infidelity, there was no compromise of national security information, however, this behavior can and in the past has resulted in blackmail for a public official which can lead to treason of the United States. This is why the FBI is conducting a very thorough investigation that should not be taken lightly by the parties involved or the public.
I worked in federal personnel security and several concerns arise from infidelity. The main concern is whether or not the public official’s behavior can be used as blackmail to force the official to reveal government secrets or classified documents.
Immediate suspension of security clearances seeks to mitigate further exposure of government information. This type of behavior can also be interpreted as disloyal to the interests of the United States government because of the exposure to blackmail or coercion to reveal those national interest secrets and classified documents.
It is truly sad that two such high-ranking public officials, who well knew the legal and political ramifications of their behavior on the government’s personnel security and security clearance rules and laws, still chose to initiate an affair. That speaks very badly of their judgment — not just in their personal lives — but professional lives which were should have been above reproach should they desire to retain their security clearances and government and military jobs.