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. rory

    All I have to say most of the Americans think with their NUTS

    November 13, 2012 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Joe

    This is just Obamas and the Hildabeast way of reliving their hippie protester days.

    November 13, 2012 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
  3. American

    I bet Hillary and her hippie cronies are so happy they are wetting their pants.

    November 13, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. fryuujin

    what we know from this is that Fox will take anything and turn it into a steaming, stinking pile of political lies against the administration.

    They need to change the lie if fair and balanced to "Not meant to be a factual at all"

    November 13, 2012 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jenny L

    I understand that people are worried about potential secrets getting out. That could be a problem. But, I think a person has the right to live their personal life as they chose. I may not agree with his choice, but it's his to make as long as no one gets hurt. If he is trying to get out of testifying, shame on him!!!

    November 13, 2012 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  6. strat

    I'm starting to beleive that I'm a part of this scandal now too. Why in fact this afternoon, I reported myself to the FBI because I was receiving harassing emails from myself, and I was sending myself shirtless pictures of, Me. See what happens when Congress gets ahold of this.

    November 13, 2012 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
  7. chrissy

    Thats all well and good HB but i really dont care to hear whos sleeping with who!

    November 13, 2012 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Zwei Stein

    Be sure to call the FBI and tell them how to proceed...you are certainly a well-qualified 'expert.' Put them on the right path.

    November 13, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. MikeSp

    What we know about this scandal is that it is being used to try and deflect attention away from the true story, the Benghazi fiasco. Who cares who the general cheated on his wife with, as far as I can tell it did not happen on his duty station so it's between him and his wife alone. I want the truth about why the Libyan consulate was so poorly protected and how we lost an ambassador is an act of war.

    November 13, 2012 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • joe

      The truth will never come to light. General Betray-us is not dumb. By this so called affair, he can resign and not testify and walk off in the sunset. Basically, he cuts off a toe to save a leg. I agree with you totally, 4 americans lost their lives needlessly and someone meeds to ne accountable. General betray-us can either "man up" or take the easy way out. It appears he chose the latter. The truth would be nice.

      November 13, 2012 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. joe

    The next episode features General Jeffrey Sinclair and his 5 female soldiers.

    November 13, 2012 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
  11. bear

    Look, Holder and Obama didn't know about Fast and Furious until they read about it in the papers. Biden and Obama didn't know about the requests for added security in Bengazi or the deteriorating situation. Obama was not aware that the FBI was investigating the head of the CIA, his direct report for six months.

    Obama is using the Sergeant Schultz method of management. As long as he knows nothing, he cannot be blamed for anything.

    November 13, 2012 at 10:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • unbelievable

      But Eric Holder DID know about the Petraeus situation in the summer. Many outlets (Washington Post to) report this.

      Doesn't Holder as Attorney General speak with Obama? If so, Obama's withholding information. If not, would that not be equally damning? I think the Sergeant Schultz analogy is spot-on. Maybe this fits in with the many other previously cited reports that Obama never attends face-to-face daily briefings. It is said that Obama only reads the daily briefing emails. Could one not then easily say he didn't read the pertinent email on a particular story? Oops! Missed it. Sorry.

      November 14, 2012 at 6:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Lamar Reese

      I Know Noth-ing !!!!!!! thats sounds about like our Pres.

      November 14, 2012 at 8:30 am | Report abuse |
  12. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "stupid IS what stupid DOES"

    The Petraeus scandal, Elmo, Demoted General, Jessica Tata, all part of the Democrat smoke screen to cover Benghazi and a fiscal cliff.

    November 13, 2012 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "stupid IS what stupid DOES"

    Doesn't the CIA usually put a hit out on "bad assets".

    November 14, 2012 at 12:40 am | Report abuse |
  14. User-301

    Do we really care? I ask again – Do We Really Care! – ?

    November 14, 2012 at 3:59 am | Report abuse |
  15. Matt

    As I said Afghanistan is not the graveyard of empires, but the graveyard of Generals. No more fast food, no fighting seasons, no more morning. It is not fun, it is war. A war we must win.

    November 14, 2012 at 5:55 am | Report abuse |
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