Petraeus Scandal: It wasn’t 30,000 emails, you guys. Get a grip.

WaPo wants you to know that General Allen and Jill Kelley did not exchange 30,000 emails. The media got it wrong. (I didn’t, but that’s neither here nor there.) It was 30,000 pages of emails; but when you remove all the repeated email threads (you know, at the bottom), and when you delete headers, email signatures and lolcats, and then divide by two and carry the one, it’s only, like, three emails.

Four, tops.

A defense official originally stated that the e-mails, sent since about 2010, numbered 20,000 to 30,000. It was quickly reported that this number in fact refers to the number of printed pages of correspondence, which actually number “a few hundred,” Craig Whitlock and Rajiv Chandrasekaran reported in today’s Post.

Allen and Kelley, who threw parties and other social events involving senior leaders at the Central Command, did exchange “a few hundred e-mails over a couple of years,” beginning when Allen was the deputy commander at the Central Command, this senior official said. But “most of them were about routine stuff.”

“He’s never been alone with her,” the senior official said. “Did he have an affair? No.”

The senior official also emphasized that the volume of communications between the two “was nowhere near” 20,000 to 30,000 personal messages. The official said the high page count reported by the FBI may have been the result of printing numerous individual messages that contained lengthy threads of earlier exchanges.

If 20,000 to 30,000 still seems like a lot of pages, consider that investigators likely reprinted entire threads every time a new message was added, and that the rigorous requirements for legal document discovery often entail repetitions, onerous formatting restrictions, and exhaustive inclusiveness. As Reuters reporter Erin Smith tweeted, “Clearly anyone who thinks that 30,000 documents = 30,000 substantive/non-duplicative documents has never suffered through a doc review.”

WaPo wants you to stop getting it wrong, America. Why? Because this is the crucial part of the story, obvs, and WaPo wouldn’t be doing its job if it didn’t report accurately the number of times General Allen was ignoring his job, or, you know, not killing bin Laden, just so he could email Ms. Kelley sideways buttcones. “<3." Kerrrrist, WaPo. We could've used this sort of diligence about a month ago when a certain presidential candidate-humanoid was bleeping and blooping his way through his campaign. Let's just get on with the slut-shaming, shall we? That’s always a good time.

[cross-posted at ABLC]






55 replies
  1. 1
    Dave says:

    There’s something horribly ironic with ABL urging others to get a grip and stop sensationalizing facts.

    Still, though, it’s a point.

  2. 2
    WarMunchkin says:

    I don’t really understand the Allen part. At all actually.

  3. 3
    Chris says:

    yeah, a doctor’s wife, and “self appointed go-between” key Central Command figures and Lebanese officials has a few hundred emails to a four star which threaten another four star’s girlfriend, but which are clean enough that his staff process them.

    Outside of the FBI agent from “There’s Something About Mary”, the fatal attractions are the least interesting part of this story. This is about intelligence and high politics.

    http://www.emptywheel.net

    Enjoy.

  4. 4
    Corner Stone says:

    @Dave:

    There’s something horribly ironic with ABL urging others to get a grip and stop sensationalizing facts.

    Well, there’s also the whole contacting the FBI thing.
    This whole scenario has me reeling.

  5. 5
    Culture of Truth says:

    Kelley and her husband appointed themselves ad-hoc social ambassadors for military personnel at nearby MacDill Air Force Base.

    The social galas seemed to spare no expense, guests said, and often featured copious buffets, valet parking, string quartets, as well as premium cigars and champagne.

    While they were throwing glamorous parties, the Kelleys racked up substantial debt, prompting banks to initiate foreclosure proceedings on two properties and other creditors to sue them for tens of thousands in credit card debt.

  6. 6
    Tone In DC says:

    @Dave:

    Given how some people troll certain FPers’ posts, it’s plain some of these trolls ought to get a grip.

  7. 7
    Corner Stone says:

    I’m just not sure Irony can actually survive.

  8. 8
    Handy says:

    Pat Robertson grades infidelity on a curve.

  9. 9
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    I once printed out a Balloon-Juice thread and it was around thirty thousand pages also, but once I edited out the quoted and repeated comments, the flame wars, arguments, name-calling and all the other useless stuff clogging it up, what was left was, well, actually nothing. No pages. Just the title.

  10. 10
    El Cid says:

    Wait — so now the Washington Post supports the use of facts and numbers and verifying and stuff in reporting?

    What if they do this in actual foreign policy coverage? Won’t that make a lot of off-the-record sources less likely to use them as a PR conduit?

  11. 11
    Felonius Monk says:

    In case anyone missed this:

    ABC Affiliate: ‘All Up In My Snatch’ Petraeus Book Graphic A ‘Mistake’

    Here’s a link: MISTAKE

    Things are getting crazy.

  12. 12
    Yutsano says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim: Hot Air and Ill-informed Banter. It’s not just a slogan you know.

  13. 13
    El Cid says:

    On the plus side: the whole thing is emerging with so many flat-out silly clownish aspects that it’s devaluing its prospects as the GOP’s hope for the proof of the dark conspiracy of the Obama administration’s coverup of “Benghazi” (the scandal which exists in Republican minds, and not the Libyan city where an attack was made against U.S. personnel).

    It’s not exactly seeming like the clever machinations of a puppet master, it’s more seeming like an episode of Arrested Development or some such.

  14. 14
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim: I am surprised that much was left.

  15. 15
    EconWatcher says:

    You gotta feel for the spouses. I mean, that’s some humiliating s#!t, to have the whole world reading about how you were cuckolded.

    This Dr. Scott Kelley got chumped bad. His wife Jill seems to have been the self-appointed welcome wagon for top military brass in the Tampa area. The dude’s a surgeon, graduated from Columbia University Medical School. Like I said, humiliating s#!t.

  16. 16
    Chris says:

    @WarMunchkin:

    I don’t really understand the Allen part. At all actually.

    Wingnut friend was freaking out because Obama apparently said that Allen still had his full confidence, and yet he threw Petraeus under the bus, and liberal double-standard argle bargle.

    I find the entire thing freaking bizarre, but what the hell.

  17. 17
    LanceThruster says:

    Let’s just get on with the slut-shaming, shall we?

    From what preacher Pat opined, it was clearly a legitimate rape.

    Poor, poor, Petraeus. Even hopelessly outgunned, he was a warrior to the end.

    If Pat follows his thought to the logical conclusion, he might see that the Mooslim burka safety shield makes a lot of sense (at least until we can go full Taliban and just not let them travel without a male relative as escort).

    “In Muslim countries, women don’t have a lot of rights. While this may seem like a good idea in theory…” Jim Jefferies

  18. 18
    El Cid says:

    Does this mean that right wingers can’t brag as happily about THE SURGE any more?

  19. 19
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @Yutsano: At least it comes with a disclaimer. How many blogs can say that?

  20. 20
    Raven says:

    @EconWatcher: Welcome to the real world. For all anyone know it was an “arrangement”. You know, like some other people we know.

  21. 21
    Corner Stone says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim:

    I once printed out a Balloon-Juice thread

    Why the hell would you kill a poor damn sapling for something so ill-advised?

  22. 22
    Corner Stone says:

    @El Cid:

    Does this mean that right wingers can’t brag as happily about THE SURGE any more?

    Hm. The Surge won the war. That can not be denied.
    Ever.

  23. 23
    Robin G. says:

    Seems to me that this was a case of accidentally reaching the correct outcome. These people all strike me as too stupid to be trusted in positions of power.

  24. 24
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    I’m already sick of this shit, and it’s what, only day 3?

  25. 25
    EconWatcher says:

    @Robin G.:

    Well, I hate to say it, but none appears more stupid or reckless than our own Big Dog. Just sayin’….

  26. 26
    maya says:

    The US Postal Service could use this lesson in e-mail fail to promote old-fashioned pen-palling as a better security issue. Expedited deliveries for a few $$$s more.

  27. 27
    LanceThruster says:

    @maya:

    The US Postal Service could use this lesson in e-mail fail to promote old-fashioned pen-palling as a better security issue.

    I was pretty young when I first learned how to steam open an envelope. And how often are spooks worried about federal laws on the penalties for violating the sanctity of the US mail?

  28. 28
    Jay in Oregon says:

    It was 30,000 pages of emails; but when you remove all the repeated email threads (you know, at the bottom), and when you delete headers, email signatures and lolcats, and then divide by two and carry the one, it’s only, like, three emails.
    __
    Four, tops.

    This is one of the best things I’ve read all day.

  29. 29
    Robin G. says:

    @EconWatcher: Fair point, but Lewinsky was before everyone had extensive email and social network shadows that followed them everywhere (the affair was in 1995). The chances of getting caught at stuff these days are much higher, which makes engaging in them a greater indication of stupidity, IMO.

  30. 30
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim: Interesting, are you suggesting this is a problem?

  31. 31
    Mouse Tolliver says:

    Jill Kelley is an incredibly unfortunate name given the nature of ths story.

  32. 32
    Yutsano says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim: We is occasionally kind folk like that.

  33. 33
    Suffern ACE says:

    @EconWatcher: Except that he wasn’t actually Cuckholded, unless by that we mean, some guy sent a shirtless picture to his wife. Unless I’m missing something here. Did something break in the story in the eight hours I was actually working today to change that?

    The folks I feel sorry for actually were the kids attending the Kelley’s daughter’s birthday party which was suddenly besieged and crashed by panty-sniffing reporters. There is no way those reporters are appropriate to have around children. They probably should make them wear those bands so we know when they are more than 500 feet from playgrounds.

  34. 34
    Seanly says:

    I thought we wasted a lot of paper in the consulting engineer industry…

    I suppose if I opened up one of my Outlook folders & printed all the emails for a big project I could probably beat 30k pages. All of those 8 or 9 emails in a thread.

    This whole thing is very strange. Was either of the Kelley’s in the military? Seems kinda wierd to be throwing lots of parties for nearby brass if you’re not part of the group.

    That said, I did know a woman who worked at the Mechanicsburg Naval Depot as a social coordinator so I thought originally that this Kelley lady was the same kinda thing.

  35. 35
    Jay in Oregon says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    The folks I feel sorry for actually were the kids attending the Kelley’s daughter’s birthday party which was suddenly besieged and crashed by panty-sniffing reporters.

    I’d be breaking crap over reporters’ heads until they got the hell out. WTF.

    And I think you mean “within 500 feet”?

  36. 36
    Mandalay says:

    @Robin G.:

    These people all strike me as too stupid to be trusted in positions of power.

    This. At least for Petraeus.

    Forget about morality, ethics, the families, the impact on his professional conduct, the duration of the affair, the potential for security breaches and blackmail, etc.

    The very fact that the Director of the CIA was dumb enough to have an affair and document it in emails automatically disqualifies him from the job he held.

    Petraeus was just too stupid for that position.

  37. 37
    Keith G says:

    @Tone In DC: Yeah Dave, how dare you voice a differing opinion – that’s not why god invented the net.

  38. 38
    pagodat says:

    All the more reason to wish there were clearer limits on which emails to search through, so Jill Kelley feeling threatened by one emailer didn’t translate to some FBI creep having carte blanche to go on a fishing expedition through her entire email history looking for more people’s lives to ruin.

  39. 39
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Mandalay: Seriously, this is looking like high-schooler stuff. Next we’ll find the notes they passed each other in class. Do you like me Y/N?

  40. 40
    Keith G says:

    @Corner Stone:

    This whole scenario has me reeling.

    I can’t imagine that there are many things that do that.

    My hope is that the Russian Doll aspect of this tale, allows cover for Obama to quietly meet and make progress with what few serious and sane legislators he can find and develop a strategy for dealing with the so-called “fiscal cliff”.

  41. 41
    Chris says:

    @Mandalay:

    The very fact that the Director of the CIA was dumb enough to have an affair and document it in emails automatically disqualifies him from the job he held.

    A wingnut I don’t agree with very much most of the time sent me an article this morning that said “Petraeus shouldn’t be fired because he had sex, he should be fired because we can’t have a CIA director dumb enough to think Gmail is a secure system.”

    When she’s right, she’s right.

  42. 42
    aimai says:

    @Culture of Truth:

    Is that true? Because the first thing I though tof when reading the beginning reports about Ms. Kelley was the Salahis–that weird on th emake couple who waltzed into the white house uninvited?

    aimai

  43. 43
    El Cid says:

    Supposedly this technique of not mailing an e-mail but saving it as a draft in Gmail and then the other party logging in, reading, editing, or saving new draft, was learned by monitoring the electronic communications of Al Qa’ida and other terrorist organizations.

    So, I guess, our intelligence agencies do really learn a lot from monitoring their electronic communications.

  44. 44
    El Cid says:

    @Corner Stone: BUT YOU WILL ADMIT THAT THE SURGE IS WORKING. YOU MUST ADMIT THAT THE SURGE IS WORKING.

  45. 45
    Chris Grrr™ says:

    I have been internetting since before there was a WWW, and don’t recall ever seeing the words “sideways buttcones” next to each other before.

  46. 46
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    @Culture of Truth:

    While they were throwing glamorous parties, the Kelleys racked up substantial debt, prompting banks to initiate foreclosure proceedings on two properties and other creditors to sue them for tens of thousands in credit card debt.

    This is Florida, right? I thought anybody who’s anybody in Florida has a foreclosure pending.

    Anyway, back to talking about how Kelley and Broadwell are slutty sluts of extreme sluttiness, because it’s vital to our nation.

    Sometimes life imitates art, and sometimes it imitates a “Desperate Housewives” episode.

  47. 47
    bjacques says:

    Shades of Col. Ollie North thinking deleted emails in PROFS stayed gone…

  48. 48
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    @Chris:

    The very fact that the Director of the CIA was dumb enough to have an affair and document it in emails automatically disqualifies him from the job he held.

    As I read it, it was a bit more careful than that: they didn’t actually send the emails to each other – they saved them as drafts and then logged into each other’s account to read them. So the emails didn’t actually leave Google’s servers. Also, while a spouse might peek into an inbox, it’s less likely they’d poke around in the drafts folder.

  49. 49
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    @Keith G:

    My hope is that the Russian Doll aspect of this tale, allows cover for Obama to quietly meet and make progress with what few serious and sane legislators he can find and develop a strategy for dealing with the so-called “fiscal cliff”.

    Yep. If the press wasn’t slavering over teh CIA sexytime, then they’d be mindlessly yapping about “oh noes teh fiscal cliff!!!!” and about how compromise is needed in Washington by Obama agreeing to everything McConnell, Cantor, and the Orange Speaker want.

    As it is, this occupies news cycles until the Bush tax cuts expire, and then Obama can hammer out a deal where the wingnuts don’t have to vote for a tax increase.

  50. 50
    ABL says:

    @Corner Stone: Irony will be survived by its cousin Sarcasm, the understanding of which seems to be lacking in this thread.

  51. 51
    Corner Stone says:

    @ABL: I think we all get you. If you get my meaning.

  52. 52
    Corner Stone says:

    @El Cid: I would do any thing for love. But I won’t do that.

  53. 53
    teabow says:

    are you sayin’ that pat robertson is still livin’?

  54. 54
    Djur says:

    Considering how many people were going “omg how do you send 30,000 emails how could he have any time to actually do his job”, I think it’s a reasonable clarification.

    And yes, as someone who used to have a job scanning the shit-tons of documents lawyers work with, the way this stuff is printed is usually extremely redundant.

    Actually, many of the documents I would scan and OCR were photocopies of printed out versions of electronic documents or emails. That means that someone took nice, perfect fidelity digital content, printed it, copied it two or three times, let it fall down a flight of stairs or rot in a dank warehouse for a few years, and then eventually I got to restore it to a much less accurate digital version.

    I scanned documents for a case where this company apparently routinely printed out a growing collection of reports and invoices every week for the CEO’s review, and I guess they just appended the new week’s data and printed the whole thing every week. So I’d see documents A, B, and C. Then I’d see A, B, C, D, E. Then A, B, C, D, E, F. By the end, I’d probably scanned document A over 100 times — and it was around 5 pages. It doesn’t surprise me at all that you’d end up with tens of thousands of pages from rooting through some dude’s email.

    ETA: Also, do we have any actual evidence Jill Kelley was boinking any of these generals? Because I’ve seen suggestions of that everywhere but no actual evidence.

  55. 55
    Pococurante says:

    Let’s just get on with the slut-shaming, shall we? That’s always a good time.

    Because only men are responsible for the tango?

    He lost everything because he was a dick to the nation and his family.

    She’ll get a book and royalties. Because she was a dick to the nation and his family.

    Want to try that again?

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