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FBI Scrutinized on Petraeus
Complaints by Female Social Planner Led to Email Trail That Undid CIA Chief
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A social planner’s complaints about email stalking launched the monthslong criminal inquiry that led to a woman romantically linked to former Gen. David Petraeus and to his abrupt resignation Friday as Central Intelligence Agency chief.

A State Department official’s complaints about email stalking launched the months-long criminal inquiry that led to a woman romantically linked to former Gen. David Petraeus and to his abrupt resignation Friday as CIA chief. Photo: REUTERS.

The emails began arriving in Jill Kelley’s inbox in May, U.S. officials familiar with the probe said. Ms. Kelley, who helped organize social events at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., told the Federal Bureau of Investigation about the emails, which she viewed as harassing, the U.S. officials said.

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European Pressphoto Agency
David Petraeus with Paula Broadwell in a photo dated July 2011.

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FBI’s Petraeus Probe Faces Inquiry
FBI Investigated Woman
How Relationship Began
That FBI investigation into who sent the emails led over a period of months to Paula Broadwell, Mr. Petraeus’s biographer, with whom he was having an extramarital affair, according to the U.S. officials.

FBI agents were pursuing what they thought was a potential cybercrime, or a breach of classified information.

Instead, the trail led to what officials said were sexually explicit emails between two lovers, from an account Mr. Petraeus used a pseudonym to establish, and to the destruction of Mr. Petraeus’s painstakingly crafted image as a storied Army general.

Mr. Petraeus admitted to an affair in a letter to CIA employees announcing his resignation.

In the aftermath of the investigation, some lawmakers are aiming criticism at the FBI and the Obama administration, including Attorney General Eric Holder, who knew about the email link to Mr. Petraeus as far back as late summer. A House Republican leader also learned of the matter in October. Some argue that Mr. Petraeus shouldn’t have resigned; others said that the FBI should have formally notified Congress earlier.

The top Senate Democrat on intelligence issues said Sunday she would investigate the FBI’s handling of the inquiry, and why the matter wasn’t shared earlier with Congress.

Felled by Scandal

There is a long list of leaders felled by allegations of personal or ethical lapses in recent years, including the CIA’s David Petraeus and Lockheed Martin’s Christopher Kubasik.

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“It was like a lightning bolt,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) on “Fox News Sunday.” “This is something that could have had an effect on national security. I think we should have been told.”

That Mr. Petraeus was having an affair wasn’t the point of the FBI probe, according to the U.S. officials briefed on the matter.

The FBI investigation began with five to 10 emails beginning around May and received by Ms. Kelley, according to U.S. officials.

The precise nature of Ms. Kelley’s relationships with Ms. Broadwell and Mr. Petraeus, who ran the Tampa-based U.S. Central Command from 2008 to 2010, weren’t known Sunday. Attempts to reach Ms. Broadwell and Ms. Kelley were unsuccessful.

In a statement Sunday, according to the Associated Press, Ms. Kelley and her husband, Scott, said they and their family “have been friends with General Petraeus and his family for over five years” and asked for privacy.

Ms. Kelley didn’t know who sent the emails. Some appeared to be accusing her of an inappropriate relationship but didn’t name Mr. Petraeus. Agents determined the emails were sent from an account shared by Ms. Broadwell and her husband, who live in North Carolina, the officials said.

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Associated Press
Mr. Petraeus in 2010 with (from left) Scott Kelley, Jill Kelley and his wife Holly Petraeus.

But the agents spent weeks piecing together who may have sent them. They used metadata footprints left by the emails to determine what locations they were sent from. They matched the places, including hotels, where Ms. Broadwell was during the times the emails were sent.

FBI agents and federal prosecutors used the information as probable cause to seek a warrant to monitor Ms. Broadwell’s email accounts.

They learned that Ms. Broadwell and Mr. Petraeus had set up private Gmail accounts to use for their communications, which included explicit details of a sexual nature, according to U.S. officials. But because Mr. Petraeus used a pseudonym, agents doing the monitoring didn’t immediately uncover that he was the one communicating with Ms. Broadwell.

By late summer, after the monitoring of Ms. Broadwell’s emails uncovered the link to Mr. Petraeus, prosecutors and agents alerted senior officials at FBI and the Justice Department, including Mr. Holder, U.S. officials say. The investigators never monitored Mr. Petraeus’s email accounts, the officials say.

In September, prosecutors and agents began a legal analysis to determine whether there were any charges that could be brought. Among the discussions: whether to interview Ms. Broadwell, who was the focus of the criminal probe, and Mr. Petraeus.

Top officials signed off on the interviews, which occurred in late September and October, just before the U.S. presidential election. During Ms. Broadwell’s first interview in September, she admitted to the affair and turned over her computer, the officials said.

On her computer, investigators found classified documents, the U.S. officials said, a discovery that raised new concerns.

At Mr. Petraeus’s interview in the week before the election, he also admitted the affair and said he hadn’t provided the classified documents to Ms. Broadwell. Agents conducted a second interview with Ms. Broadwell on Nov. 2. She also said Mr. Petraeus wasn’t the source of the documents.

That information helped resolve concerns that there was a national-security breach, although the source of the documents hadn’t been determined. The officials offered no specifics about what was in the documents.

Despite efforts at FBI and the Justice Department to keep the investigation closely held, word of it leaked to a small number of lawmakers. Rep. David Reichert (R., Wash.) received a tip from an FBI employee that there was a national-security issue related to Mr. Petraeus, according to an aide. He forwarded the information to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.), who alerted the FBI in October.

“I was contacted by an FBI employee [who was] concerned that sensitive, classified information may have been compromised and made certain Director [Robert] Mueller was aware of these serious allegations and the potential risk to our national security,” Mr. Cantor said in a statement, which was reported by the New York Times on Sunday.

CIA Director David Petraeus resigned as head of the intelligence agency, saying he “showed extremely poor judgment” by engaging in an extramarital affair. Neil King has details on The News Hub. Photo: AFP/Getty Images.

FBI and Justice Department officials reassessed their investigation over the next several days and determined there wasn’t sufficient cause to bring charges. They advised the Director of National Intelligence of their findings at about 5 p.m. Tuesday, Election Day.

Shawn Turner, a spokesman for Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, said Mr. Clapper spoke with Mr. Petraeus that evening and the following day and urged him to step down.

“Speaking as a friend, colleague and fellow general officer, Gen. Clapper urged Gen. Petraeus to step down,” Mr. Turner said. Mr. Clapper is a retired Air Force lieutenant general, and Mr. Petraeus retired from the Army as a four-star general before assuming the helm at CIA.

Mr. Clapper informed the White House on Wednesday that Mr. Petraeus was considering resigning, Mr. Turner said.

Mr. Obama learned of the affair Thursday morning and met that day with Mr. Petraeus, who offered his resignation. Mr. Obama didn’t immediately accept it and took a day to consider it.

An extramarital affair doesn’t necessarily disqualify an official from serving as director of the CIA, and there are employees at the agency who have engaged in extramarital affairs without being forced to leave the agency.

Mr. Petraeus believed he should resign because the CIA would have viewed a lower-level employee engaged in an affair to be improper and that the director should set an example by publicly accepting responsibility, according to a person familiar with the events.

The affair ended more than four months ago, though Mr. Petraeus continued to advise Ms. Broadwell on her research into innovation in the 101st Airborne Division in Northern Iraq in 2003, which then- Maj. Gen. Petraeus commanded.

On Friday afternoon, as word began to leak out that Mr. Petraeus might be leaving his post, a shocked Ms. Feinstein, who chairs the Senate intelligence committee, called Mr. Petraeus to ask what was going on, and questioned whether it was necessary to step down. She said Sunday in the “Fox News Sunday” interview that, given all the details of the affair, she now believes Mr. Petraeus was right to resign.

Later Friday afternoon, Mr. Clapper’s top deputy called key congressional leaders.

Ms. Feinstein remains frustrated that she wasn’t told of the affair earlier. “We should have been told,” she said in an interview, adding that she is going to look into why the FBI, which is one of the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, didn’t notify the leaders of the intelligence committees in advance.

U.S. spy agencies are required to inform leaders of the intelligence committees of “significant intelligence activities,” and the affair represented the potential for a security compromise, a congressional aide said.

However, U.S. officials briefed on the matter said the probe was closely held among officials at the FBI and Justice under a long-standing policy not to divulge information on continuing criminal investigations.

The disclosure policy was reinforced in a 2007 memorandum by Michael Mukasey, who was then attorney general under President George W. Bush. The memorandum, issued in the wake of the scandal over the firings of U.S. attorneys, sought to remind department employees that contacts with the White House and Congress about pending criminal matters were off limits.

On Sunday, U.S. intelligence officials said their briefing of intelligence committee members on Friday was appropriate. “We have a statutory requirement to keep Congress fully informed,” a senior intelligence official said. “We notified Congress of the situation.”

The timing of events near the election has raised suspicions among some lawmakers that the administration was seeking to hide embarrassing news before the presidential balloting took place.

“The FBI has a lot of explaining to do, and so does the White House,” said Rep. Peter King (R., N.Y.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. “I have a hard time accepting most of the story we’ve heard so far. It doesn’t add up.”

—Josh Mitchell and Julian E. Barnes contributed
to this article.


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