Lawmakers Question F.B.I. Handling of Petraeus Affair

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WASHINGTON -- Lawmakers with authority over intelligence and national security expressed consternation on Sunday that the F.B.I. investigation that led to the resignation of David Petraeus as director of central intelligence could have been conducted without the knowledge of officials in the White House or Congress. They also voiced puzzlement that it came to a head within hours of President Obama's re-election.

Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, a Democrat and the intelligence committee chairwoman, said she wanted to know why the F.B.I. had not notified her and other intelligence committee leaders about Mr. Petraeus's affair; she said she learned of it only from news reports Friday and was dumbstruck when he confirmed it later in a phone call with her.

Questioned on "Fox News Sunday," Ms. Feinstein said that she would investigate why the F.B.I. did not notify her committee beforehand.

The incident "could have had an effect on national security," Ms. Feinstein said, "we should have been told."

She also said that there was "absolutely not" a link between the resignation of Mr. Petraeus and the Sept. 11 attack on the United States mission in Benghazi, Libya. The C.I.A. has been criticized for providing a flawed early report about the attack.

Mr. Petraeus resigned on Friday after news of his affair with Paula Broadwell, a former member of the military who had written a biography of Mr. Petraeus, was made public. The F.B.I. began an investigation last summer after it received a report from a woman who said she had received threatening e-mails ultimately traced to Ms. Broadwell. The woman, whom The Associated Press first identified Sunday as Jill Kelley, 37, of Tampa, Fla., is a friend of Mr. Petraeus and his wife, Holly. The e-mails related to Ms. Kelley's relationship with Ms. Broadwell, according to government officials.

In a statement released Sunday night, Ms. Kelley and her husband, Dr. Scott Kelley, did not address their involvement in the investigation that ultimately led to Mr. Petraeus's resignation. The Kelleys said they had been friends with Mr. 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," the family said in a statement.

On television programs Sunday morning, lawmakers broadly praised Mr. Petraeus personally, lauding him in warm and even emotional terms as a leader of rare talent, his resignation a loss to the nation, his personal flaws a secondary concern to some.

"David Petraeus is a great leader, a great patriot, and he is a guy who has probably contributed more to the safety of the United States of America over the last decade than any one single individual," Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, a Republican and vice chairman of the intelligence committee, said on the ABC program "This Week."

He said he believed that Mr. Petraeus had been "straight up" with the committee during his confirmation hearing last year. He was confirmed by unanimous vote of the Senate on June 30.

But there was no shortage of questions Sunday about the investigation and the timing of the thunderbolt that was Mr. Petraeus's resignation.

"The timeline has to be looked at and analyzed," said Representative Peter King of New York, a Republican and chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, on CNN's "State of the Union. "Because obviously this was a matter involving a potential compromise of security and the president should have been told about it at the earliest stage."

Mr. Chambliss said that the committee might at some point want to hear from Mr. Petraeus about Benghazi but that the acting C.I.A. chief and Mr. Petraeus's erstwhile deputy, Michael J. Morell, should be an adequate substitute during a closed briefing scheduled for Thursday.

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a Republican and member of the Armed Services Committee, said he was ready to move past Mr. Petraeus's personal story but wanted to hear his testimony on Benghazi, which Mr. Graham called a "national security failure."

Speaking on the CBS program "Face the Nation," he called for the establishment of a joint select committee of Congress to investigate the episode, in which Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans died.

nation

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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