Petraeus Affair: The Latest

[Content Note: Harassment.]

So, CIA Director David Petraeus resigned into the Friday News Hole last week, citing an extramarital affair. Since then, we've learned that the affair was with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, who may have been given inappropriate access to classified information. But what triggered the FBI investigation that eventually led to Petraeus' resignation was reportedly that Broadwell was sending harassing emails to another woman accusing her of flirting with Petraeus. (Oh for fuck's sake.) And the FBI's investigation was, well, unusual. In the sense that when it didn't yield the results the reporting employee (a friend of the harassed woman) wanted, Rep. Eric Cantor was notified. (Whut.) Such a mess.
The new accounts of the events that led to Mr. Petraeus's sudden resignation on Friday shed light on the competing pressures facing F.B.I. agents who recognized the high stakes of any investigation involving the C.I.A. director but who were wary of exposing a private affair with no criminal or security implications. For the first time Sunday, the woman whose report of harassing e-mails led to the exposure of the affair was identified as Jill Kelley, 37, of Tampa, Fla.

...Law enforcement officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the investigation, defended the F.B.I.'s handling of the case. "There are a lot of sensitivities in a case like this," said a senior law enforcement official. "There were hints of possible intelligence and security issues, but they were unproven. You constantly ask yourself, 'What are the notification requirements? What are the privacy issues?'"

... The involvement of the F.B.I., according to government officials, began when Ms. Kelley, alarmed by about half a dozen anonymous e-mails accusing her of inappropriate flirtatious behavior with Mr. Petraeus, complained to an F.B.I. agent who is also a personal friend. That agent, who has not been identified, helped get a preliminary inquiry started. Agents working with federal prosecutors in a local United States attorney’s office began trying to figure out whether the e-mails constituted criminal cyber-stalking.

Because the sender's account had been registered anonymously, investigators had to use forensic techniques — including a check of what other e-mail accounts had been accessed from the same computer address — to identify who was writing the e-mails.

Eventually they identified Ms. Broadwell as a prime suspect and obtained access to her regular e-mail account. In its in-box, they discovered intimate and sexually explicit e-mails from another account that also was not immediately identifiable. Investigators eventually ascertained that it belonged to Mr. Petraeus and studied the possibility that someone had hacked into Mr. Petraeus's account or was posing as him to send the explicit messages.

Eventually they determined that Mr. Petraeus had indeed sent the messages to Ms. Broadwell and concluded that the two had had an affair. Then they turned their scrutiny on him, examining whether he knew about or was involved in sending the harassing e-mails to Ms. Kelley.
The investigation continued and "law enforcement officials decided there was no evidence that Mr. Petraeus had committed any crime and tentatively ruled out charges coming out of the investigation." BUT. The FBI employee who requested the investigation on Kelley's behalf, either wasn't aware of that outcome or was unhappy with it, "became frustrated," so he
alerted the office of Representative Eric Cantor, Republican of Virginia, the House majority leader, about the inquiry in late October. Mr. Cantor passed on the agent's concerns to Mr. Mueller.
Totally inappropriate.

Marcy Wheeler and Kevin Drum ask some good questions about the curious details of this story.

Two other pieces I recommend:

Megan Garber: Gmail's Location Data Led to the Discovery of the Petraeus Affair.

Spencer Ackerman: How I Was Drawn Into the Cult of David Petraeus.


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