Americans love their conspiracy theories. From Big Foot inhabiting the forests to alien spacecraft crashing in Roswell, New Mexico, hardly a week passes before the next conspiracy is launched on the Internet or on one of the cable networks desperate for new and controversial programming.
Politics is certainly not immune to conspiracy theories; the most famous being that Lyndon Johnson and other high-ranking government officials plotted to kill President John Kennedy, and that Lee Harvey Oswald was just a patsy. Despite compelling forensic evidence to the contrary, and numerous recreations that support the Warren Commission’s conclusions, the theory persists that there were at least two shooters that tragic day in Dallas, and that three and not two shots were fired.
Conspiracy theories that suggest our own government blew up the Twin Towers on 9/11 may sell books and movies, but most are just that, theories.
The latest in this never-ending quest to create something out of nothing is the idea that the FBI and White House conspired to fire CIA director David Patraeus before Congress could hear his testimony regarding the incident in Benghazi, Libya. Putting aside the fact that Patraeus will be called to testify whether he is the acting director or not, it is clear that this is nothing more than a sexual scandal dressed up to look like another conspiracy in the hope of creating a political advantage.
Under current statute, the FBI is required to report to Congress and to the White House any security breaches or crimes. They found neither when investigating Patraeus’ affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell. Thus, the larger question in all of this––and one in which Congress should be focusing its attention––is why didn’t the FBI drop their probe once it was determined that it had found nothing more than an affair?
Ever since its inception, the FBI has had an ugly history of prying into the private lives of citizens. Congress needs to tread very carefully as it investigates this incident. If they would like the agency to return to the good old days of J. Edgar Hoover, when it kept files on the sordid details of the sex lives of politicians, then they should say it in statute.
But my guess is that Congress would prefer that the FBI limit its investigative scope to what is in current law. Imagine what agents might uncover if they began investigating the private lives of the current members of Congress. I can only imagine the headlines and the next conspiracy theory.