FBI under gun on Petraeus
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WASHINGTON -- Senior lawmakers called for an inquiry into the FBI's handling of the case of former CIA director David Petraeus as new details and questions emerged Sunday about the investigation that led to his resignation last week.
Law enforcement sources identified Jill Kelley, 37, of Tampa, Fla., as the woman whose report of harassing emails eventually exposed an extramarital affair between Mr. Petraeus and Paula Broadwell, a former Army officer who wrote a biography of the retired four-star Army general.
The departure in disgrace of one of the Obama administration's most respected and prominent figures came as President Barack Obama is reorganizing his national security team for a second term. Mr. Petraeus was to have been a primary witness this week at a series of closed-door congressional hearings on possible intelligence and security lapses surrounding the September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said Sunday that news of the resignation was "like a lightning bolt" and that top lawmakers had not been aware the investigation was under way.
Her first inkling, Ms. Feinstein said on "Fox News Sunday," came from media inquiries Friday, just hours before Mr. Petraeus' resignation was announced publicly. She called Mr. Petraeus, she said, and he told her of his plans.
"This is something that could have had an effect on national security," Ms. Feinstein said. "I think we should have been told." She said the committee would "absolutely" investigate why the FBI did not notify relevant officials sooner.
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said: "It just doesn't add up that you have this type of investigation. The FBI is investigating emails, the emails leading to the CIA director, taking four months to find out that the CIA director was involved."
"I have real questions about this. I think a timeline has to be looked at and analyzed to see what happened," Mr. King said on CNN's "State of the Union."
The FBI investigation began after Ms. Kelley visited the bureau's Tampa office in early summer and provided investigators with harshly worded emails accusing her of seeking an intimate relationship with Mr. Petraeus. Ms. Kelley, who is married to a Tampa surgeon, met the general when he was head of the Tampa-based U.S. Central Command, from 2008 to 2010. A military official said she was an unpaid volunteer at MacDill Air Force Base, where the headquarters are located.
Mr. Petraeus and his wife, Holly, socialized with Ms. Kelley and her husband. A photograph in the local newspaper showed the two couples together at a 2010 party at the Kelleys' six-bedroom waterfront home. Other photos on social-media sites showed Mr. Petraeus with the Kelleys' three daughters and the couples at a going-away party for Mr. Petraeus in June 2010 as he headed to Afghanistan to command U.S. and international forces there.
Federal law enforcement officials said they did not know the nature of the relationship between Ms. Kelley and Mr. Petraeus other than that they were social friends. The officials were not authorized to discuss the case and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The Kelleys have hired Abbe Lowell, a prominent Washington, D.C., lawyer, and Judy Smith, a crisis manager, who declined to confirm that Ms. Kelley was the recipient of the emails.
Ms. Smith issued a statement Sunday on behalf of the Kelleys, which said: "We and our family have been friends with General 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."
After Ms. Kelley turned over the emails, FBI investigators determined that they had come from Ms. Broadwell. An examination of Ms. Broadwell's accounts led to the discovery of exchanges between her and Mr. Petraeus -- who used an address with a fictitious name, not his CIA or military account. The FBI concluded from the contents of the emails that Ms. Broadwell and Mr. Petraeus were having an affair.
When Mr. Petraeus' name first surfaced, officials said, they did not feel it was appropriate to brief anyone outside the Justice Department, including the White House or Congress. The criminal investigation was still ongoing, key interviews had not been conducted and they did not know what role, if any, Mr. Petraeus had in the email harassment case, they said.
Before determining whether there had been a security breach, one official said, it would have been premature to discuss such a sensitive issue with anyone outside the investigation. In late summer, after ruling out any security involvement, high-level Justice Department officials were informed about the harassment investigation regarding Mr. Petraeus.
"The FBI had to get to the bottom of it first," the law enforcement official said. "They had to figure out whether there was a breach. And they eventually determined there wasn't. But this took time. And we had to figure out what role, if any, Petraeus had with the harassing emails, which turned out to be none."
During separate interviews with the FBI, officials said, both Mr. Petraeus and Ms. Broadwell admitted the affair. After a final interview with Ms. Broadwell the week of Oct. 22, and with Mr. Petraeus the following week, investigators concluded there had been no criminal cyber-harassment.
Last Tuesday, Election Day, the FBI notified the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, for the first time of the investigation and its outcome. Officials said they had followed established procedures by notifying Mr. Petraeus' intelligence-community superior only when all the facts had been established.
Mr. Clapper spoke by telephone with Mr. Petraeus that evening and advised him to resign.
On Wednesday, Mr. Clapper told the White House, which informed Mr. Obama on Thursday morning. Mr. Petraeus offered his resignation to Mr. Obama that afternoon; Mr. Obama accepted it Friday morning.
A number of lawmakers said they would insist that Mr. Petraeus testify during closed-door hearings this week on the Benghazi attack in which U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed. Mr. Petraeus visited the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, less than two weeks ago for talks with the CIA station chief and other officials.
The administration has said that Mike Morell, Mr. Petraeus's deputy and now acting CIA director, will testify for the agency.
"I don't see how in the world you can find out what happened in Benghazi before, during and after the attack if General Petraeus doesn't testify," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on CBS's "Face the Nation." He suggested the formation of a joint select committee of the House and Senate, similar to those convened to investigate the Watergate and Iran-contra scandals.
Mr. Graham also said he would oppose the selection of the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state. Ms. Rice has been on the short list of candidates for the post.
Days after the Benghazi attack, now labeled a terrorist assault by the administration, Mr. Rice went on several television shows and said that the attack grew out of a protest march that had turned violent.
"I'm not going to promote somebody who I think has misled the country or is ... incompetent," Mr. Graham said.
First Published November 12, 2012 12:00 am