CIA to investigate Petraeus' conduct leading to demise
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WASHINGTON -- The CIA said Thursday that it had opened an "exploratory" investigation into the conduct of former director David Petraeus, who resigned after admitting to adultery, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered the military services to consider how to strengthen ethics standards "that keep the military well led and well disciplined."
The CIA and Pentagon reviews stem from the resignation of Mr. Petraeus, a retired Army general, and revelations that Marine Corps Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, exchanged possibly inappropriate emails with the woman who triggered the FBI investigation that exposed Mr. Petraeus' affair.
The military also has been rattled by a slew of lesser-known, more serious cases, including a general recalled from Afghanistan who is facing criminal charges of sexually assaulting or committing adultery with five women. The Pentagon, however, said the timing of Mr. Panetta's directive was "coincidental."
The FBI, meanwhile, was trying to determine if Paula Broadwell, the Army Reserve intelligence officer with whom Mr. Petraeus was romantically involved, had the security clearances needed to possess all of the classified materials found on her personal computer, according to a senior law enforcement official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive subject.
"There are levels of clearance that she may not have had authorization for certain documents," the official said. "That's what they're really trying to sort out is classification levels, clearance levels."
The FBI investigation could take awhile, the official said, because the bureau wants "to conduct a thorough investigation to see if there was any classified information that was either compromised or mishandled. That's something [the FBI takes] very seriously."
Security clearances for Ms. Broadwell, who allowed the FBI to search her Charlotte, N.C., home Monday night and remove two computers, were withdrawn by the Army on Wednesday.
The preliminary investigation of Mr. Petraeus by the CIA inspector general's office was apparently aimed at assessing his general conduct during his 14-month stint as director.
"At the CIA, we are constantly reviewing our performance. If there are lessons to be learned from this case, we'll use them to improve," said a statement quoting an unnamed CIA spokesman. "But we're not getting ahead of ourselves; an investigation is exploratory and doesn't presuppose any particular outcome."
The scope of the investigation wasn't disclosed.
Mr. Petraeus will testify today at closed-door hearings of the House and Senate intelligence committees on the circumstances surrounding the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. consulate and a nearby CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya. They resulted in the deaths of four Americans: U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, a State Department staffer and two CIA contract security officers.
The attacks ignited a political firestorm, with critics questioning whether the Obama administration had provided adequate security, reacted properly and offered accurate accounts of what happened.
Mr. Panetta's order to Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for the ethical standards review by the service chiefs was announced in Bangkok, Thailand, where the defense secretary was visiting.
The assessment "is intended to reinforce and strengthen the standards that keep the military well-led and disciplined," Pentagon spokesman George Little said. "The secretary believes that the vast majority of our senior military officers exemplify the strength of character and the highest ethical standards the American people expect of those whose job it is to provide for the security of our nation."
The review's findings will be the basis for a report that will be presented to President Barack Obama by Dec. 1.
Mr. Petraeus, 60, who has been married for 38 years, disclosed his affair with Ms. Broadwell, 40, his married biographer, in resigning Nov. 9, saying his behavior was "unacceptable."
On Monday, Mr. Panetta announced that he had ordered the Pentagon inspector general to investigate more than 20,000 emails and other documents that Gen. Allen exchanged with Jill Kelley, a Tampa, Fla., socialite who threw parties for prominent citizens and senior officers from MacDill Air Force Base, home of the U.S. Central Command.
Ms. Kelley, 37, and her husband were friends with Mr. Petraeus -- who was Central Command commander from October 2008 to June 2010 -- as well as Gen. Allen, 58, who was then Mr. Petraeus' deputy, and his wife.
Ms. Kelley's complaint to an FBI agent she knew about threatening anonymous emails triggered the FBI investigation that led to Ms. Broadwell and uncovered her affair with Mr. Petraeus. The first Broadwell email reportedly was sent in May to Gen. Allen, who forwarded it to Ms. Kelley.
First Published November 16, 2012 12:00 am