The Petraeus scandal: What we know
Retired Army Gen. David Petraeus resigned as CIA director last week, citing an extramarital affair.
November 13th, 2012
09:40 PM ET

The Petraeus scandal: What we know

Retired Army Gen. David Petraeus resigned from his CIA director post last week after an FBI investigation revealed he had an extramarital affair, an investigation that also prompted questions about whether his paramour had inappropriate access to classified information.

The scandal also has sparked an investigation into whether Marine Corps Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, sent inappropriate messages to a different woman, leading President Obama to put Allen’s nomination to become NATO’s supreme allied chief on hold.

The FBI uncovered the Petraeus affair while it investigated e-mails that his paramour, Paula Broadwell, allegedly sent to a Petraeus family friend, Jill Kelley, according to a U.S. official. Kelley, meanwhile, is the woman to whom Allen allegedly sent inappropriate e-mails, according to the Defense Department.

Below is a summary of what we know about the situation.

The Petraeus affair

The FBI uncovered an affair between Petraeus, 60, and Petraeus biographer Paula Broadwell, 40, after Broadwell allegedly sent anonymous, harassing e-mails to Kelley in May, a U.S. official says. A senior official close to Allen says it was Allen who received an anonymous e-mail about Kelley, and tipped Kelley off that someone was threatening her.

Kelley, 37, says she and her husband are friends of Petraeus and his family. Media reports have described her as a liaison at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, where the U.S. Central Command is headquartered. Both Petraeus and Allen were previously stationed there. A Central Command spokesman said she is a volunteer with no official position.

Investigators eventually traced the e-mails to Broadwell, a U.S. official said. The messages were along the lines of "stay away from my guy," but not explicitly threatening, according to a U.S. official.

During the investigation, other communications surfaced between Petraeus and Broadwell, a married mother of two living in North Carolina, an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve and a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of War Studies at King's College London.

Broadwell, a West Point graduate, had written a biography of Petraeus, published in January, called “All In: The Education of General David Petraeus.” Having met Petraeus in 2006 when he spoke at Harvard, where she was a graduate student, she wrote the book after researching Petraeus for her Ph.D. dissertation on his leadership skills and visiting him and his team in Afghanistan, where he became top U.S. commander in 2010.

Petraeus and Broadwell began their affair in fall 2011, a few months after he returned to the United States, retired from the Army and took over at the CIA, according to a Petraeus friend. They ended it in summer 2012, Petraeus' friend said.

FBI investigators, following up on the anonymous e-mails to Kelley, discovered on Broadwell's computer e-mails that turned out to be from Petraeus, a U.S. official said.

On Election Day, November 6, Petraeus told Director of National Intelligence James Clapper about the affair, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official. Clapper advised Petraeus to resign, the official said.

On November 9, Petraeus quit the CIA, admitting to an affair. The House and Senate intelligence committees were informed of the FBI investigation the same day.

Petraeus' resignation came just days before he was scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee about the September 11 attack that killed four Americans at a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.

The Allen allegations

The Defense Department’s inspector general is investigating allegations that Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, sent inappropriate messages to Kelley, the department said November 13. The FBI told the department about the allegations on November 11.

The potentially inappropriate messages were "flirtatious" in nature, a defense official who has been authorized to speak on the matter told CNN.

Allen has denied wrongdoing, a senior defense official said. Authorities are looking at the e-mails.

"There is no affair" between Allen and Kelley, a senior official close to Kelley said. "She is a bored rich socialite involved with every single senior commander at CENTCOM, because she worked as an honorary ambassador."

Investigations and fallout

Broadwell’s affair with Petraeus has raised questions about whether the affair gave her access to national security information that she shouldn’t have. The allegedly harassing e-mails that the FBI allegedly tracked to Broadwell detailed the "comings and goings of the generals and Ms. Kelley," according to a source. Among those believed to be referenced in the e-mails was Petraeus. Because parts of Petreaus' schedule were not public, the e-mails raised questions about whether the sender had access to sensitive information.

In a speech at the University of Denver at the end of October, Broadwell suggested the attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi took place because the United States was housing Libyan prisoners there a theory, she noted, that had not been vetted yet. The claim has since been discounted by administration officials. Broadwell's source for that previously unpublished information remains unclear, and there's no evidence that it came from Petraeus.

A senior U.S. intelligence official said Broadwell did not have a security clearance from the CIA. Another official said Broadwell, who is an officer in the Army Reserve, did have some kind of security clearance and that there are no issues with Broadwell having unauthorized access to classified information.

 Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California and chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she would investigate why the FBI did not notify congressional oversight committees about its investigation into Petraeus after the bureau determined he was having a secret extramarital affair.

Because Petraeus resigned as CIA director, he won’t testify before Congress about the Benghazi attack as scheduled. Some Republicans have criticized the administration's response to the Benghazi attack and have speculated that the timing of Petraeus' departure was linked to the congressional inquiry.

Feinstein said that she still hopes to bring Petraeus to testify about the Benghazi attack on November 16.

While the nature of the relationship between Allen and Kelley, if any, is unclear, evidence of an affair could subject the general to military prosecution. Adultery is a violation of military law.

President Barack Obama has put Allen’s nomination to become NATO's supreme allied commander on hold pending the outcome of the investigation, White House spokesman Jay Carney said on November 13.


Filed under: CIA • Military • National security
soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. yessireebob

    it's a diversion tatic.

    November 14, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • cedar rapids

      yeah, thats right because we have all seen how no one at all is mentioning benghazi in any way shape or form now......apart from every news article that is talking about this of course.

      November 14, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  2. tomas spencter

    sounds like the CIA, military & FBI are all falling apart under the Obama administration... Clinton & Holder are both bailing... We have currently have three ****Star Generals currently involved in scandals...

    And our govt is going to manage our health care system too? SCARY!!!

    November 14, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Neysa- CGSC ILE Student

      Tomas,
      I am appalled by your cynicism of the Obama administration and the military. Remember citizenship is a choice and if you are so dissatisfied, you can leave any day. As a proud Army veteran, I acknowledge my organization is not perfect, but we make sure your freedom and liberty is protected. Remember in the US, you are innocent until proven guilty and that applies to Generals as well.
      A PROUD American

      November 14, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Chuck

    Where are Woodward and Bernstein when you need them.

    November 14, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. blaster34

    If these timelines are true, then this is the most clueless, most ignorant and most uninformed administration in US history. If not true, then this administration is continuing its pattern of downright lies. Have to believe the second one, we've had 4 yrs of lies and why should it change now.

    November 14, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  5. leon mello

    Gen. Petraeus it turns out did betray U.S.
    The results of his actions are not a tragedy
    for U.S.
    His actions and their results are this:
    A travesty, and,
    should be treated as this,
    A travesty ...

    November 14, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  6. s kel

    its good to off most repub.

    November 14, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Allen

    The media is a business based on ratings. News is boring but sensation sizzles. We all make mistakes. The actions of men living under a microscope are often magnified or exaggerated. Nietzsche wrote "The errors of great men are venerable because they are more fruitful than the truths of little men." JFK and Bill Clinton did great things but most remember Marilyn and Monica. CNN, why do you use the word scandal? Why do you label the mistakes of 5 different men a scandal? Your reporting on these events, your writers’ style, your writers use of the English vernacular can all be best described as a zoo that gives its’ monkeys dynamite and matches at playtime.

    November 14, 2012 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bob Hall

    I keep hearing these politicians talking about how the people need to know the truth. And they are all ready to hang people so that the truth will be told. But the sad thing is that no one believes the politicians are EVER telling the truth. I have to think this over reaction to every issue is to make an impression on the general public that they are truthful.

    November 14, 2012 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. ronvan

    Bob Hall: Your comment smaks more of the TRUTH at all these matters! Politicans are "trained & brainwashed" to tell US what we want to hear whether it is the truth or not! IF you do not speak political-ese, read between the lines, or have a translator it is hard to figure out what they are saying! Petreaus affair is not important, what is, if they find out that sensitive information was involved!

    November 15, 2012 at 5:51 am | Report abuse |
  10. the prophet

    There will be an earthquake in Washington DC and Virginia in December

    November 15, 2012 at 8:25 am | Report abuse |
  11. ragdog

    was he still in the military during his affair???it is either a yes or no fricking question....

    November 20, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3