ALTHOUGH extra-marital flings and having affairs where politicians are concerned are not unheard of in the US, things have changed since the mid-80s.
The process of reformation and strict adherence to the code of ethics is essential for any state or institution to survive and flourish.
Those holding public office are expected to adhere to a more conservative moral and ethical code during their tenure. No public office holder in the US has ever escaped accountability for financial irregularities, abuse of power and conflict of interest.
In the US military, adultery is not allowed for officer corps, during their tenure of service and is punishable with termination of service, dishonourable discharge without any benefits and even prison.
Extra-marital affairs are considered a private matter for ordinary American citizens and evidence of infidelity can only be used for divorce proceedings, there being no criminal penalty involved.
In any system of governance, including democracy, the basic principle is that power comes with responsibility. Gen Petreaus, a four-star general who commanded the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan, retired from active service and was appointed as head of the CIA.
As head of the CIA, he was expected to behave in a more responsible manner and have moral authority to enjoy respect of the officers and staff that worked under him. Although this alleged extra marital affair is believed to have occurred after his retirement, its exposure resulted in his retirement.
As head of the CIA, he had access to confidential intelligence information which could impact American national interests.
Any such display of succumbing to human temptations, such as an extra-marital affair or receiving other undue favours, financial or otherwise, can jeopardise the position of public-office holders who may subsequently be susceptible to blackmail, etc.
MALIK TARIQ ALI Bloomington, IL US