Woman who received threatening emails revealed in Petraeus scandal
WASHINGTON -- The identity of the woman whose complaints sparked the FBI investigation that ended David Petraeus’ public career emerged Sunday, as members of Congress demanded a fuller explanation of how and when law enforcement agents learned the CIA director was having an extramarital affair.
Jill Kelley, an unpaid social liaison to MacDill Air Force base near Tampa, Fla., complained to the FBI about harassing emails that investigators traced back 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 the two were carrying on an affair. Petraeus told Director of National Intelligence James Clapper about the situation Tuesday, and Clapper urged Petraeus to resign. The White House first learned of it Wednesday, officials said, and President Obama accepted the resignation Friday. Key members of Congress found out only hours before the public did.
Kelley, based at JSOC’s Tampa headquarters, was described as a close friend of Petraeus. Officials have said that Broadwell considered the woman she emailed as a rival for the retired general’s affections.
Petraeus took the CIA job last year after retiring as a four-star general and one of the most influential military minds of his generation, having been ground commander of both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. 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 wants 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 also backed away from her statement earlier that President Obama should not have accepted Petraeus’ resignation, saying, “When you realize additional complications ... I think he did the right thing. I think the president really had no choice but to accept that resignation,” she said.
Rep. Mike Rogers, who chairs the House intelligence committee, has serious 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 was scheduled to testify on the attack in Benghazi this week, presenting the findings of his independent investigation into the situation on the ground, but will now be replaced in the hearing by Acting CIA Director Mike Morrell.
Feinstein said there was “absolutely not” a connection between the resignation and the consulate attack, but not everyone is convinced.
“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 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 are pushing to have the former CIA director testify on Benghazi as a civilian. King called him “an absolutely necessary witness,” and Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he “would not rule out” calling Petraeus.
As information dribbles out about the scandal that upended the career of the most influential national security official of his generation, a host of questions remain unanswered. 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 anyone in the White House that the CIA director had been caught up in an investigation. Doug Heye, a spokesman for Rep. Eric Cantor, said Cantor had a conversation 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 the agency was not able to confirm or deny any investigation, and that all necessary steps were being taken to make sure no confidential information was at risk.
U.S. officials have said that there are no indications Petraeus improperly shared classified information with Broadwell. While some observers have suggested that a CIA director carrying on an affair is subject to blackmail, former CIA officials say extramarital affairs are common at all levels of the CIA, and typically are only viewed as a security problem if the officer is involved with a foreigner or a someone who poses a risk.
Former CIA officer Bob Baer said on CNN last week -- without offering evidence -- that several former CIA directors had extramarital affairs that were ignored.
[For the record, 8:05 p.m. Nov. 11: An earlier version of this post said Jill Kelley is State Department liaison to the military’s Joint Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla. Actually, she is an unpaid social liaison to MacDill Air Force base near Tampa, Fla.]