by JEEVAN NAGPAL Staff Writer
A retired Army general, who was admired for serving in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, David Petraeus, vacated his spot as director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) on Friday, November 9, 2012.
Petraeus resigned after revealing that he was having an extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell.
In a letter to CIA employees, Petraeus writes, “After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair. Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours.”
The affair began in late 2011 when Petraeus was not an active duty military officer and dissolved in the summer of 2012, according to Steven S. Boylan, a Petraeus associate.
The Petraeus-Broadwell scandal was first investigated by the FBI several months ago. Agents learned that Broadwell sent threatening e-mails anonymously to Jill Kelley, a longtime family friend and event planner of Petraeus.
The emails sent to Kelley contained accusations of her having an inappropriate affair with Petraeus, as well as warnings to stay away from him.
Kelley complained about the harassing emails to a friend, Frederick Humphries, who also happens to be an FBI agent. Humphreis referred this situation to a cyber crime unit, which initiated an investigation.
The emails directed toward Kelley traced back to Broadwell. Soon after, the FBI inquired for a warrant to search Broadwell’s emails and discovered that she was exchanging intimate messages with Petraeus. Another investigation was instigated to determine whether someone posed as Petraeus, someone hacked the account, or if it really was Petraeus.
FBI agents uncovered that Petraeus used a Gmail account under a pseudonym. He left draft messages on the account for Broadwell to read when she logged on. In turn, she did the same.
Attorney General Eric Holder was informed, and law enforcements launched an investigation to resolve whether classified information was passed between Petraeus and Broadwell.
When they were interviewed in front of FBI officials in late October, both Petraeus and Broadwell testified to having an affair, but emphasized that they did not share any sensitive information.
Though Attorney General Holder was aware of the affair beforehand, he did not notify Petraeus’s nominal superior, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, until November 6, 2012. Clapper urged Petraeus to resign as CIA director, and advised the White House the next day.
On November 8, President Obama was briefed on the situation and requested Petraeus at the White House, where he offered his resignation. Obama agreed to the resignation the following day.
The question that arises is whether the FBI can read someone’s email based on a complaint. For the most part, the answer is no. Kelley is hardly qualified for routine federal protections, but she had connections in the bureau, which made it easier for her to locate her harasser.
Since the affair became public, it has been revealed that Broadwell will not be charged with cyberstalking.
Broadwell’s lawyer provided the media with an official letter from United States Attorney Robert E. O’Neill. It said that “no federal charges will be brought in the Middle District of Florida relating to alleged acts of cyber-stalking.”
One issue remains undetermined. The CIA has not ruled whether Petraeus exploited the benefits for his position while in a relationship with Broadwell.