A Traveler In The Foreign Service: The Petraeus Fallout – Keep Your Pants On And Watch Out For Honorary Consuls

david petraeus and paula broadwell scandal photo of them togetherIn the wake of the David Petraeus-Paula Broadwell-Jill Kelley scandal, many Americans are wondering why General Petraeus felt compelled to resign. Shouldn’t consenting adults be allowed to cheat on their spouses, so long as it doesn’t impact their job performance? The most recommended comment on a New York Times story in the immediate aftermath of Petraeus’ resignation follows this line of thinking.

“I fail to see how Petreus’ (sic) private life has any bearing on his effectiveness as a public servant,” wrote a reader from Minnesota identifying himself as Skeptical.

But the truth is that there is no real work/private life separation for CIA spooks, Foreign Service diplomats and anyone else with a top-secret security clearance that gives them access to classified information. As the director of the CIA, Petraeus is a huge fish, but even much lower level government employees have seen their careers go up in smoke based upon allegations of infidelity.


cia with naked woman silhouetteI know of a few cases where Foreign Service Officers (FSOs) had their security clearances suspended for allegedly cheating on spouses but for every one of those situations, there are several others where the employee keeps their security clearance while their “corridor reputation” is essentially shot.

It might seem unfair, but anyone who has access to classified material – and that includes someone way down at the bottom of the food chain like Bradley Manning, the accused WikiLeaks whistleblower, all the way up to someone like Petraeus – is susceptible to blackmail if they have secrets they don’t want anyone to know about.

A lot of Foreign Service hopefuls stress out about getting a security clearance. They worry that they may have smoked too many joints or their dicey credit score or a cranky old neighbor who might rat them out for some real or imagined offense. But the truth is that investigators are mostly digging around to see if the applicant is susceptible to blackmail for any reason – infidelity, debts, sexual orientation, etc.

The bottom line is that if you have a security clearance, you’d better be faithful to your spouse. (And even if you don’t, it’s a pretty good rule of thumb, don’t you think?) So if you want to join the Foreign Service, it’s probably best to forget about wife swapping, swinger’s parties, soliciting prostitutes and anything else that could spell the end of your career.

There are no hard stats on divorce rates in the Foreign Service, but there is anecdotal evidence that the Foreign Service lifestyle can be hard on marriages. In an era when our biggest posts are unaccompanied and more FSOs are being asked to live without their spouses for a year or more at a time, it’s easy to understand how respected people like Petraeus could go astray.

paula broadwellPeople who are put together in a highly stressful, claustrophobic, foreign environment, away from their families are more susceptible to temptation. That is not to excuse it, but if you read books like Kim Barker’s “Taliban Shuffle,” you get a sense that there’s a lot more partying and infidelity among the expats in Kabul than one might expect.

The other diplomacy-related takeaway from the scandal is Jill Kelley’s bizarre claim that she has diplomatic immunity, based upon the fact that she is apparently an honorary consul for South Korea.

“I’m an honorary consul general so I have inviolability, so they (the press), um should not be able to cross my property,” she said to a 911 operator. “I don’t know if you want to get diplomatic protection involved as well.” (See video below.)


Honorary consuls don’t have diplomatic immunity and their lawns certainly aren’t “inviolable” as embassies and consulates are, but give her credit for trying. The truth is that there are a lot of very bogus people, like Kelley, trying to pawn themselves off as diplomats. The Danish filmmaker Mads Brügger exposed the murky world of pay-for-title sham diplomats in his terrific film “The Ambassador,” which is available on iTunes, but even he might have to laugh at Kelley’s audacity.

Read more from “A Traveler In The Foreign Service

[Photo credits: Michal Spocko, Mike Licht, and The Tim Channel on Flickr]

Winter weather doesn’t deter amorous Brits

Next time you’re stuck in a London hotel, with snow falling and few options for getting out on the town, order a little entertainment to your room. It will make you authentically British … if you take the latest survey by IllicitEncounter.com at face value. The website, which helps married people find a little action on the side, revealed that its traffic increased on Wednesday morning, as a winter storm tore through Hampshire, Berkshire and the West Country. To help people get a little secret sex, IllicitEncounters.com has even had to bring on temp staffers.

According to Sara Hartley, a spokesperson fro the site, “In light of these figures, I’d be interested to see how much work those ‘working from home’ have actually done.” She continues, “Perhaps these wives and husbands have just been waiting for a time when they could join, away from the eyes of their work colleagues and, most importantly, their partners…”

IllicitEncounters.com has more than 350,000 members in Britain, so if you’re lonely in London on a wintry day, maybe you should skip that walk by Buckingham Palace and enjoy a little takeout.

[Photo by Je@n via Flickr]

Tiger Woods spotted cavorting with Hooters waitresses in Aruba

Well, sort of.

Tiger’s had enough trouble recently, and we don’t mean to pile on, but I couldn’t help posting these photos I saw in Aruba earlier today at that “delightfully tacky yet unrefined” restaurant Hooters.

A bunch of restaurant patrons were gathered around the photos, laughing, and speculating as to whether these shots of Tiger, which look like they were taken eight or ten years ago, were a glimpse into Tiger’s future philandering.

And, oh yeah, if you’re wondering why I was spending precious island time at Hooters, I’ll tell you. For the chicken wings, of course.

Check out Tiger mugging for the camera with ten of his favorite Aruban Hooters girls below:

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Denmark: the land of promiscuity

Denmark promotes promiscuity?! Well, that’s the accusation that caused the country’s tourism agency to yank an ad from YouTube. The country, which has a reputation for being a bit more open than we’re used to seeing in the United States, used a three-minute video clip to promote the destination, but featured a blond woman and an infant, claiming the latter came from an encounter with a foreign tourist.

I guess Denmark, if only briefly, became the land of opportunity.

The ad continues with the woman claiming to be looking for the kid’s father. She launches into a fairly involved story, claiming how she met this unknown stranger and uses it as a vehicle to talk about the other reason. The best part: she’s not looking for anything, implying that there are no strings attached. And, she speaks English, another perk.

Don’t get too excited; it’s all fiction. Denmark’s TV2 has confirmed this.

VisitDenmark scored a quick win with this concept, pulling in more than 800,000 views on YouTube. Though the ad has been pulled, it lives on through other YouTube accounts, so you can still enjoy the stunt.

Now, of course, everyone’s backpedalling. VisitDenmark manager Dorte Kiilerich told the Associated Press, “I regret that the film has offended so many people,” continuing that it was intended to convey “a nice and sweet story about a grown-up woman who lives in a free society and accepts the consequences of her actions.”

Economy Minister Lene Espersen says that the clip offers “a not very well-thought-out picture of the country.”

Perhaps the most critical reaction, though, comes from sociologist Karen Sjoerup, who claims that the ad suggests that “you can lure fast, blonde Danish women home without a condom.”

Isn’t that the point?

Check out the commercial after the jump.

Top 5 hotels for having an affair

Looking for a place to take your mistress for the weekend? Trying to plan a secret rendezvous with your lover? If so, check out ABC News’ list of the top 5 hotels for having an affair.

The draw of these hotels, according to the article, is “thick walls, a discreet staff, a bit of romance”. Noel Biderman, the creator of a website that matches would-be cheaters with potential dates (The tag line is “Life is Short. Have an Affair”. Classy, huh?) says ideal hotels for trysts also allow guests to check in under a pseudonym and offer good room service.

Biderman recommends the Beverly Hills Peninsula Hotel, for its private residences outside of the hotel, and suggests looking for hotels that are new or off the beaten path. There is less chance you’ll run into someone you know at one of these places. Also recommended is the Amenjena Hotel in Marrakech. It comes at a price, but Biderman says an affair is the time to splurge (Why not, you may as well spend your money now so your spouse can’t take it all when he or she divorces you, right?).

Another high-style option is the Il Palazzetto Hotel in Rome. With it’s simple but luxurious decor, it gives guests the feeling of being in their own residence (Of course, because you want to think about your own marriage bed when committing adultery.) &Beyond Mnemba Island, a private island retreat near Zanzibar, makes the list, as does the 1870 Banana Courtyard in New Orleans. The hotel is in the fantastically romantic French Quarter, and its history as a bordello adds to its allure.

Of course, the article also wisely points out, you could just stay at any of these hotels with your significant other. The privacy and luxury they offer may make you feel like you are doing something naughty, spicing up your stay (and maybe your relationship) in a way that won’t land you in divorce court.