• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

FBI Probe That Uncovered Petraeus Affair Prompted By Threats From His Mistress

The Washington Post is reporting that the FBI probe that led to the discovery of former CIA Director David Petraeus’s affair with biographer Paula Broadwell was prompted by email threats allegedly sent by Broadwell to other women:

The collapse of the dazzling career of CIA Director David H. Petraeus was triggered when a woman with whom he was having an affair sent threatening e-mails to another woman close to him, according to three senior law enforcement officials with knowledge of the episode.

The recipient of the e-mails was so frightened that she went to the FBI for protection and help tracking down the sender, according to the officials. The FBI investigation traced the threats to Paula Broadwell, a former military officer and a Petraeus biographer, and uncovered explicit e-mails between Broadwell and Petraeus, the officials said.

When Petraeus’s name first surfaced, FBI investigators were concerned that the CIA director’s personal e-mail account had been hacked and security had been breached. But the sexual nature of the e-mails led them to conclude that Petraeus and Broadwell were engaged in an affair, the officials said.

The identity of the woman who received the e-mails was not disclosed, and the nature of her relationship with Petraeus is unknown. The law enforcement officials said the e-mails indicated that Broadwell perceived the other woman as a threat to her relationship with Petraeus.

Attempts to reach Broadwell and her relatives have been unsuccessful, and she has not made a public statement since she was linked with Petraeus on Friday.

All three senior officials who described the impetus for the investigation spoke on condition their names be withheld because aspects of the inquiry are ongoing

We also have  a better idea of the timing of the investigation, and it appears to have been a relatively quick affair that was not brought to the attention of anyone in the White House until earlier this week:

The law enforcement officials did not provide an exact timeline for the investigation, but they said that the inquiry started at least several weeks ago. They said investigators thought they were dealing with a routine harassment case until they discovered the e-mails were traced to a private e-mail account belonging to Petraeus.

The initial concern was that someone had broken into the CIA director’s e-mail account, leading to concerns about potential security breaches, according to the officials. As the investigation proceeded and more e-mails emerged, along with Broadwell’s role, FBI investigators realized they had uncovered an affair between Petraeus and Broadwell, the officials said.

The investigators first interviewed Petraeus about two weeks ago, the officials said. Petraeus was told at the time that no criminal charges would be forthcoming and the idea of him resigning was not raised, the officials said.

One of the law enforcement officials said Justice Department officials were unclear on what steps to take next because they had determined that there had been no crime and no breach of security.

It was not until Tuesday that the Justice Department notified James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, that compromising material about Petraeus had been uncovered as part of an investigation, according to a senior intelligence official. Clapper then spoke with Petraeus and told him to resign.

“Director Clapper learned of the situation from the FBI on Tuesday evening around 5 p.m.,” the intelligence official said. “In subsequent conversations with Director Petraeus, Director Clapper advised Director Petraeus to resign.”

The official declined to say whether Petraeus had considered resigning at that point, but he said it was quickly clear to Clapper that stepping down was “the right thing to do” for Petraeus.

This would seem to answer the concerns that some have expressed over the past 24 hours that the investigation had been going on for some time and was kept quiet to avoid electoral repercussions. As for the report regarding the investigation itself, there were also reports earlier today that Petraeus had broken off the affair with Broadwell in July or August. One can suppose that this is what may have led to her striking out against this anonymous woman who she may have perceived as interfering in her relationship with the retired General whom she had apparently begin a relationship with when they first met in Afghanistan. The whole thing is beginning to take on the air of a soap opera.

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Ben Wolf says:

    Jealousy, thou art a cold-hearted bitch.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  2. @Ben Wolf:

    Hell hath no fury…..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  3. michael reynolds says:

    Wow. This does not exactly put the general into a more favorable light, does it. So now maybe another other woman. Plus some Fatal Attraction bunny-boiling. Plus Petraeus had to be told to quit?

    Aside from Petraeus’s wife, the person I feel most sorry for is the anonymous FBI agent who started off with a routine email threat case and must have raised a cold sweat when he realized what he’d stumbled into.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  4. @michael reynolds:

    Fatal Attraction was the what came to mind when I read this article the first time. This better not end with Broadwell boiling a bunny in the Petraeus kitchen.

    the person I feel most sorry for is the anonymous FBI agent who started off with a routine email threat case and must have raised a cold sweat when he realized what he’d stumbled into.

    “Sir, I found something in the course of my investigation that involves the Director of the CIA.”

    That must’ve been one hell of a conversation at the Hoover Building.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  5. CSK says:

    I feel sorry for Broadwell’s husband as well as Holly Petraeus. I can only imagine what they’re enduring. It would be quite bad enough to go through this in private, but to know that the whole world is reading about it and cackling over the salacious details must be unbearable.

    As for Petraeus, did it never occur to him that having two lovers on the side might not be the wisest course of action for a man in his position? Or that dumping one lover and taking another might be a little risky?

    As for Broadwell, did she not realize that if you’re going to threaten someone, it’s best not to do it by e-mail?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  6. @CSK:

    You have a point. When we’re in the middle of a “juicy” story like this we tend to lose sight of the innocent people impacted by things like this. Petraeus has children, and although they are adults now I’m sure this isn’t easy on them. I’m not sure about Broadwell.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  7. PJ says:

    I’m getting Lisa Nowak vibes.

    Nowak gained international attention on February 5, 2007, when she was arrested in Orlando, Florida, and subsequently charged with the attempted kidnapping of U.S. Air Force Captain Colleen Shipman, who was romantically involved with astronaut William Oefelein.

    Well, at least, Broadwell didn’t try to kidnap any of the other women…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  8. CSK says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    The Broadwells have two very young sons, too young to understand the ramifications, but quite old enough to know that something very bad has happened. It might be worse for them than for the Petraeus offpspring, who are adults and understand fully. And I’m sure they’re having a terrible time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  9. Dave Schuler says:

    Lifetime, here we come!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  10. rudderpedals says:

    Before the weekend’s out someone’s gonna post a picture of the other lady.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  11. Ben Wolf says:

    I suspect the General is at this moment drinking himself silly, so I’d like to suggest the appropriate song to go with it:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkPUGeoDbbk&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  12. rudderpedals says:

    @Ben Wolf: I hope the simulpost was as good for you as it was for me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  13. CSK says:

    @rudderpedals:

    I wonder if she realized when she went to the FBI that, almost inevitably, she’d be outed by someone at some point. If she has a husband and children, that’s just more human wreckage left in the wake of this.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. Anderson says:

    I’m thinking the Magnetic Fields:

    You were an Army officer
    And I, just a Rockette–
    The night you can’t remember,
    The night I can’t forget.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  15. Brett says:

    So either Petraeus had another affair and broke things off with Broadwell, or he didn’t do that, and Broadwell is just that much crazier and jealous? He sure knows how to pick them. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if Broadwell is just a bit nuts – as Kaplan points out over at Slate, she was a big-time Petraeus fan who spent an unusually large amount of time with him even for an embedded reporter.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK:

    As for Petraeus, did it never occur to him that having two lovers on the side might not be the wisest course of action for a man in his position?

    Quite the leap of logic there CSK.

    The collapse of the dazzling career of CIA Director David H. Petraeus was triggered when a woman with whom he was having an affair sent threatening e-mails to another woman close to him, according to three senior law enforcement officials with knowledge of the episode.

    I don’t know about you, but I have a # of women I am close too and I am having sex with only one of them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  17. Argon says:

    Hmmm. I recall earlier comments suggesting: “Oh tosh, his affair was just the totally understandable attraction of an older, powerful man and an enthusiastic, beautiful, much younger woman. Anyone could do that. Petraeus shouldn’t need to resign because it was a purely private affair. Poor man.”

    BS! This fallout, which we’re now seeing is precisely the sort of sh**storm that comes with affairs. Things blow up. Things get nasty. And this sort of thing can quickly spill over into one’s profession performance. If sex and infatuation were easily compartmentalized, this wouldn’t be a problem, but the reality is that this is rarely so. People rarely get caught and resign only because they had an affair. They resign because the affair blows up into the other parts of their lives and makes them do more stupid things, like steer sweetheart deals, or arrange promotions, or provide travel on the company dime. I’m trying hard not to sound sanctimonious but there are good reasons why extramarital affairs are not tolerated in certain positions of influence.

    Is this the human condition? Yes, but one needn’t be a superhuman to avoid it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0