Petraeus scandal gets new twist
David Petraeus shakes hands with Paula Broadwell in this file photo. AFP photoThe plot surrounding the resignation of CIA chief David Petraeus over an extramarital affair thickened Sunday amid reports that his alleged lover had sent emails to a second woman she viewed as a threat to her love interest.
The affair came to light as the FBI was investigating whether a computer used by Petraeus, a married father of two, had been compromised, the New York Times and other U.S. media reported, citing government officials. NBC News and other media reported the Federal Bureau of Investigation was focusing on Paula Broadwell, co-author of a favorable biography of Petraeus, for possible improper access to classified information.
Unnamed officials told the Times that Petraeus’s lover was Broadwell, a former Army major who spent long periods interviewing Petraeus for her book. The Times and The Washington Post, citing an official briefed on the case, reported that the probe had been triggered by “harassing” emails sent by Broadwell to an unidentified second woman. The recipient of the emails was so frightened, The Post reported, that she went to the FBI for protection and to help track down the sender.
According to the Post, the second woman did not work at the CIA and her relationship with Petraeus remains unclear. However, the e-mails indicated that Broadwell perceived her as a threat to her relationship with the top spymaster, the paper said. While Obama praised Petraeus as he acknowledged his departure, there was no denying it added to his headache over the makeup of his future administration, already expected to lose heavyweights such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Now, adding to the rumor mill is talk of who might follow in the footsteps of Petraeus, a 60-year-old former paratrooper credited with turning around the Iraq war.
His deputy Michael Morell will serve as acting CIA director and is expected to fill in for Petraeus at an upcoming congressional hearing about the CIA’s alleged failure to protect a U.S. consulate in Libya from a deadly Sept. 11 attack that left four Americans dead. One name being floated as a possible Petraeus replacement is John Brennan, the White House counter-terrorism adviser and a CIA veteran who has played an instrumental role in Obama’s drone war.
Others, according to the Wall Street Journal, include Michael Vickers, undersecretary of defense for intelligence, and Congressman Michael Rogers, a Republican who heads the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. “It needs to be someone who has a lot of credibility... and doesn’t have a partisan reputation,” Georgetown University professor Stephen Wayne told Agence France-Presse. Wayne also floated the name of former Republican senator Chuck Hagel but said his guess would be that Morell will stay put permanently if he does well in the interim.
Unprecedented access disturbs CIA officers
CIA officers long had expressed concern about Broadwell’s unprecedented access to the director. She frequently visited the spy agency’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia, to meet Petraeus in his office, accompanied him on his punishing morning runs around the CIA grounds and often attended public functions as his guest. As a military intelligence officer in the Army Reserve, Broadwell had a high security clearance, which she mentioned at public events as one of the reasons she was well suited to write Petraeus’s story. But her access was unsettling to members of the secretive and compartmentalized intelligence agency, where husbands and wives often work in different divisions, but share nothing with each other. Petraeus’ staff in Afghanistan similarly had been concerned about the time Broadwell spent with their boss on her multiple reporting visits to the war zone.
WASHINGTON – The Associated Press