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November 15, 2012 at 12:00 PM

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Seattle connection to 'shirtless' FBI agent in Petraeus case shows need to reserve judgment

Updated 12:10 p.m.: And... here's a link to the "shirtless" photo just published by The Seattle Times, which appears to back up claims that it was a humorous gesture.

Original post:
Who's going to be first to get a hold of and publish the now-notorious "shirtless" photo reportedly sent to Tampa socialite Jill Kelley? Will it prove that recent media reports have taken former Seattle-based FBI Special Agent Fred Humphries' actions and motives totally out of context?

I don't know. I don't want to care anymore. Nothing is ever quite as it seems.

According to this fascinating Seattle Times news report, Humphries sent "the photo" to many people in 2010 as a "dumb-joke" e-mail. His sense of humor is reportedly well-known among acquaintances, as is his commitment to his job as a counter-terrorism investigator.

The whole debacle that has led to the end of Gen. David Petraeus' short career as head of the CIA is getting silly and off-topic. If there's a lesson here for the rest of us, it's probably the realization that there may be no such thing as privacy in the digital age.

This week, The Seattle Times published these cautionary words by columnist Kathleen Parker. It's worth taking another look at her message:

"We can’t wait for the news because it’s the journalist’s job to uncover it. But we can and should wait for judgment. Let the investigations proceed. Let the facts be verified. Let these people survive the humiliations they are certain to suffer.

We are better than the mob — until we become one.


It's fine to be curious. (Really, who wouldn't be?) I'll admit that scrolling through Twitter these last few days has been... um, interesting. The play-by-play of this Petraeus affair is hard to resist. But let's remember that this tangled web involves innocent spouses and children, too. How would you like to see your family sliced, diced, and judged on every media platform available? There's not much room for context in a 140-character Tweet, especially when the operative word is "shirtless."

So far, it doesn't appear anyone has committed a crime or that security was breached. Unless authorities conclude otherwise, I suggest we all (me, included) get back to minding our own business.


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