The scandal that burst into the news last week, which led to CIA Director David Petraeus’s resignation, gets more confusing by the day. So here’s your guide to the, uh, state of affairs in the Petraeus case.
First, the characters.
David Petraeus, former Director of the CIA and former top commander of the U.S. military force in Afghanistan.
Paula Broadwell, coauthor of “All In,” a biography of General Petraeus.
John Allen, successor of Petraeus as military commander in Afghanistan. Allen was scheduled to start confirmation hearings for his new role as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO forces in Europe last Thursday, but the hearings were suspended by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta in response to the scandal.
Jill Kelley, an unofficial “social liaison ” for military personnel at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. She is a family friend of the David and Holly Petraeus.
Add to that an FBI agent named Frederick Humphries and the Republican Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, Eric Cantor, and you have your dramatis personae.
It’s hard to pin down exactly when and where one should start telling this story — according to NBC News, Petraeus’s affair with Broadwell began as early as November, 2011. You could say the story of Petraeus’s eventual resignation begins with his infidelity.
But the story of the affair’s eventual outing begins instead with Jill Kelley, because it was Kelley who first complained to an FBI agent in May 2012 about “menacing” emails she had received from an anonymous source, accusing her of inappropriately socializing with military brass from MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. Subsequent emails, anonymous like the first but from several different aliases, contained references to the “comings and goings” of high-level military officials. This raised the question for FBI investigators of whether the emails posed any national security risk.
The investigation led the FBI to Paula Broadwell–alleged sender of the menacing emails–and to correspondence she had had with David Petraeus, the subject of her biography, All In: The Education of General David Petraeus. Their correspondence revealed that Broadwell and Petraeus had entered into a love affair.
In late October, while the investigation was still going on, an FBI agent named Frederick Humphrie –the same FBI agent to whom Kelley brought the original menacing emails–was put in contact with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and informed him of the investigation that had uncovered Petraeus’s extramarital affair. Humphries didn’t think the Bureau was pursuing a possible national security breach aggressively enough.
Meanwhile, Humphries himself had figured into the investigation for shirtless photos he had sent to Jill Kelley.
Cantor had his chief of staff call the FBI chief of staff to relay what Humphries had said. The FBI told Cantor’s chief of staff that they couldn’t confirm or deny an investigation involving Petraeus.
On Nov. 2, four days before the presidential election, the FBI was wrapping up its investigation. On election day the Justice Dept. told Director of National Intelligence James Clapper of the Petraeus affair, who informed the White House the day after. The day after that Petraeus himself asked to speak to President Obama. And the day after that—Nov. 9 — Obama accepted Petraeus’s resignation and the story broke in the national media.
That was last Friday.
Since then, the scandal has widened further as General John Allen, successor of Petraeus in Afghanistan, was revealed to be under investigation for “overly flirtatious” email correspondence he had with Jill Kelley. Allen denies any affair with Kelley. Kelley does as well. Still, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has put on hold Allen’s confirmation hearing for Supreme Allied commander for NATO until the matter is settled.
You’ve got it all straight now? But the FBI investigation is ongoing. The FBI conducted a search of Broadwell’s home just Monday night (with her permission) and carted away, among other things, her computer.
It’s safe to say we haven’t heard the end of this story just yet.