Members of Congress demand fuller explanation of Petraeus affair
WASHINGTON— The woman whose complaints sparked an FBI investigation that led to CIA Director David H. Petraeus’ resignation was identified Sunday as an unpaid social liaison to MacDill Air Force Base near Tampa, Fla., where Petraeus formerly was stationed.
Military sources identified her as Jill Kelley, who had complained about harassing emails that investigators traced to Paula Broadwell, a married Army reservist who was Petraeus’ biographer, according to military sources.
U.S. officials say the FBI’s investigation of Broadwell’s emails led them to discover explicit messages between her and Petraeus suggesting they were carrying on an extramarital affair.
Also Sunday, members of Congress demanded a fuller explanation of how and when law enforcement agents learned that Petraeus was having the affair.
Petraeus told National Intelligence Director James R. Clapper about the situation Tuesday, election day, and Clapper urged Petraeus to resign. The White House first learned of the affair Wednesday, officials said, and President Obama accepted Petraeus’ resignation Friday. Key members of Congress found out only hours before the public did.
Kelley, 37, was described as a close friend of Petraeus. Officials have said that Broadwell, 40, considered the woman she emailed a rival for the retired Army general’s affections.
Broadwell, who has two children, could not be reached for comment.
Kelley and her husband, Scott, issued a statement to the Associated Press on Sunday evening: “We and our family have been friends with Gen. Petraeus and his family for over five years. We respect his and his family’s privacy and want the same for us and our three children.”
Petraeus, one of the most influential military minds of his generation, took the CIA job last year after retiring as a four-star general and having been the top U.S. ground commander in both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Broadwell met Petraeus when he gave a 2006 speech at Harvard University, where she was studying for a master’s degree. She decided to make Petraeus’ leadership style a doctoral dissertation topic and, later, to write his biography.
She received special access to Petraeus when he was in charge of U.S. Central Command in Tampa from 2008 to 2010, according to a U.S. officer who served under him.
“She was always in Tampa, sometimes for weeks at a time, and it was always explained that she was writing a book about him,” said the officer, speaking anonymously to discuss an ongoing investigation.
When Petraeus took command in Afghanistan, Broadwell started showing up there periodically too, according to several U.S. officers who served in Kabul. She often stayed for several weeks or more at Petraeus’ headquarters in downtown Kabul, where she received a room at the special quarters reserved for visiting dignitaries.
“She stayed in the distinguished visitor residences on base, much like the other traveling gang of think-tankers,” said an official who served in Kabul at the time. “She did travel with him a bit too.”
When the biography, “All In: The Education of General David Petraeus,” came out in January, the publisher’s promotional materials said that Broadwell was “afforded extensive access by Gen. Petraeus, his mentors, his subordinates and his longtime friends,” and that she “embedded with the general, his headquarters staff and his soldiers on the front lines of fighting.”
Petraeus’ resignation sent shock waves through Congress that continued on the Sunday talk shows.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said that when Petraeus told her Friday he was quitting over an affair, it was “like a lightning bolt.”
Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” Feinstein said she wanted to know why the bureau didn’t notify the intelligence committees sooner. The incident “could have had an effect on national security,” Feinstein said. “We should have been told.”
Feinstein backed away from her earlier statement that Obama should not have accepted Petraeus’ resignation. “When you realize additional complications ... I think he did the right thing,” she said. “I think the president really had no choice but to accept that resignation.”
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, had questions about how the matter was handled and about the former CIA director’s conduct, a senior committee aide said.
Senior FBI and CIA officials are scheduled to brief lawmakers Tuesday, when the government reopens after the Veterans Day holiday.
Petraeus had been scheduled to testify about the September attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead, including the ambassador. Now, acting CIA Director Mike Morrell will present the findings of the agency’s independent investigation into the incident.
Feinstein said there was “absolutely” no connection between Petraeus’ resignation and the Benghazi attack, but some in Congress disagreed.
“I have real questions about this. I think the timeline has to be looked at. I’m suggesting there’s a lot of unanswered questions,” Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.) said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
King, the House Homeland Security Committee chairman, said the current timeline “just doesn’t add up.”
Republicans want Petraeus to testify as a civilian. King called him “an absolutely necessary witness.” Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he “would not rule out” calling Petraeus.
A host of questions remains about the scandal that upended the career of Petraeus, one of the most influential national security officials of his generation. It’s not clear, for example, whether the FBI obtained a warrant to read Petraeus’ email, or merely reviewed messages he sent that resided in Broadwell’s account.
It’s also unclear why the FBI did not notify the White House that the CIA director had been caught up in an investigation. Doug Heye, a spokesman for Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), said Cantor had a conversation last month with an FBI whistle-blower about the affair and potential “national security concerns.”
But when Cantor raised the matter with the FBI, Heye said, he was told that the agency could neither confirm nor deny any investigation, and that all necessary steps were being taken to ensure no confidential information was at risk.
U.S. officials have said there are no indications that Petraeus improperly shared classified information with Broadwell. Although some observers have suggested that a CIA director carrying on an affair would be subject to blackmail, former CIA officials say extramarital affairs are common at all levels of the agency and typically are viewed as a security problem only if the officer is involved with a foreigner or someone who poses a risk.