After some very spirited and healthy debate last week -- here, on Choosing a Soundtrack, and on Right-Side-of-Lowell -- surrounding public figures, scandals, and their families (the Letterman v. Palin stuff spilled right into Ensign/Sanford) I realized late last week we had entirely ignored what most people ignore every time this stuff comes up, but what ANY 2nd Lieutenant or Lance Corporal walking through the doors of places like Huachuca, Goodfellow, or Dam Neck already knows -- the potential risk that certain behaviors could place on those who hold security clearances. That's why I wrote this letter to the Sun (thanks for the heads-up Cliff, I didn't know they had published it but will grab a hard copy tomorrow afternoon from the missus).
Before you write me off as a paranoid conspiracy nut, I would suggest you read about names like Clayton Lonetree, Irvin Scarbeck, or Katrina Leung. Or just read any Cold War spy history you could get at any Barnes & Noble or Borders (or local library, if so inclined).
Or ask the FBI Agent friend of mine (also a reserve Gunnery Sergeant, Marine E-7, which is how I know him) about what happened when he and a lot of his associates went to Moscow for an FBI-FSB liaison trip a couple years ago. Every single one of them wearing some left-hand jewelry was solicited almost to the point of harassment by young, eager Russian women every time they went out. In fact, it got so ridiculous that towards the end of the trip, one particularly charged-up partygoer grabbed one of them by the arm forcibly and yelled, in these exact words, in Russian-accented English at a high decibel level, "LET'S GO SEX!"
Needless to say, that three-word rallying cry became a long-running inside joke among those guys, and it still draws a laugh to this day.
None of them were stupid enough to take the bait, though, because they'd all been warned it was going to happen, and they knew the consequences of doing so would be either bartering information or money, or making the most difficult speech they would ever give to their spouse.
Anyway, back to the spirit of the letter. Let's take a look at the DC Madam scandal. We now know that:
a) David Vitter is a U.S. Senator who represents the great state of Louisiana;
b) David Vitter is an outspoken champion of 'traditional' family values;
c) David Vitter enjoys (or did enjoy) the company of prostitutes; and
d) David Vitter enjoys (or did enjoy) wearing diapers in said company.
The issue here has NOTHING to do with the rightness or wrongness of wearing diapers, which is absolutely not my place to judge. The issue has everything to do, however, with the vulnerability it creates for the wearer, the Right Gentleman from the Pelican State.
In an easy-to-imagine scenario, Mr. Vitter could've found himself in the same situation that the FBI agents were way too street-smart to fall into. It wouldn't have required true agent recruitment on the part of the prostitute, either. (That's important, and that's why I italicized that).
Imagine one of the DC Madam's call girls. Imagine she has money trouble. She has bills to pay, addictions to feed, credit cards, rent, etc. Imagine someone who she doesn't know is aware of this, and says, "I'll pay you ______ thousand dollars to wear this piece of recording equipment while you cavort with Senator Diaper." (This would be sort of a twist on Hazel Moore with Marion Berry, only with different players and stakes).
Now, voila, that agency has one percent of our highest-level deliberative and legislative body over a proverbial barrel.
They could delay legislation, they could introduce legislation, they could hold things up in committees. And if they ran into any trouble, they could instantly end the career of a very ambitious man with a few simple mouse clicks (which is even easier than the boys in Berlin used to do it, back when they had to rely on international air mail to make good on these).
The same could apply to any pol, so I don't really care whether it's Craig, Clinton, Spitzer, Mark Foley, or even Gary Hart.
Again, no one said you had to be perfect. To cite my past examples, no one said anything about slurping your soup, picking your nose at a red light, or ripping a fart as you get out of bed (a.k.a. Morning Thunder). That's the kind of stuff that the imperfect people I know tend to do.
And if you're going to skip town for international trysts, wear diapers with prostitutes, or solicit sex in airport bathrooms, that's okay too -- provided you'd be comfortable disclosing that in a public forum without going to any lengths to hide the evidence.
But if you're not, you just abused all of our trust, and you don't deserve to be elected dog-catcher.