Curiouser and Curiouser (the Petraeus Affair) – Updated

I wasn’t going to write about the Petraeus Affair, but wow this is getting weird.

  • “Wealthy socialite”1 Jill Kelly asks the FBI to investigate anonymous threatening emails she’s getting.
  • The FBI agent she first contacts had sent her shirtless photos of himself; news articles use this to suggest he has a crush on her or something.
  • The FBI starts a full-blown investigation, which isn’t the usual reaction to emailed threats. Maybe slightly weird, maybe not given that the emails made reference to the DCIA.
  • The emails turn out to come from Petraeus’s angry mistress, Paula Broadwell, who is also his “biographer” (via the medium of a ghostwriter), and who believed Ms. Kelly of being, or trying to be, an alternate mistress. [Torts, anyone?]
  • The FBI figures out during this investigation that Paula Broadwell was corresponding with Petraeus using gmail drafts and a shared file repository that they could both log into, a tactic people use when they are afraid of leaving an email trail. But the FBI foils that strategy by using geolocation and/or email metadata.
  • Although the FBI says it found four classified documents on Ms. Broadwell’s computer, no one is being charged with leaking them — an extraordinary thing given this Administration’s near-hysterical war on leakers?
  • Meanwhile, the FBI non-boyfriend, who isn’t part of the cybercrimes division decides he’s being shut out of the investigation because there’s some great coverup in progress to protect Obama:

    But the agent, who was not identified, continued to “nose around” about the case, and eventually his superiors “told him to stay the hell away from it, and he was not invited to briefings,” the official said. The Wall Street Journal first reported on Monday night that the agent had been barred from the case.

    Later, the agent became convinced — incorrectly, the official said — that the case had stalled. Because of his “worldview,” as the official put it, he suspected a politically motivated cover-up to protect President Obama. The agent alerted Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, who called the F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III, on Oct. 31 to tell him of the agent’s concerns.

  • Justice/FBI first informs Petraeus’s boss, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, about their findings — on Election Day. Congress is not informed
  • President Obama was informed for the fist time, at least officially, the next day.
  • Petraeus resigned two days after the election. Congress first hears about it in the public media.
  • Media are in shock. Partly due to a sense of having bought into the “cult of David Petraeus”, partly due to the sense that there’s something funny going on we don’t know yet.
  • Senators and Congresspersons are upset because the FBI kept them in the dark. FBI spins back.
  • Ms. Kelly — seemingly the victim here — lawyers up bigtime.
  • The FBI follows up its earlier search of Broadwell’s computer by carting documents away from her home after a four-hour search — a search seemingly long-delayed.
  • Top U.S. Commander in Afghanistan Is Linked to Petraeus Scandal:

    Mr. Panetta turned the matter over to the Pentagon’s inspector general to conduct an investigation into what a defense official said were 20,000 to 30,000 pages2 of documents, many of them e-mails between General Allen and Ms. Kelley, who is married and has children.

Who knew that government workers had such active exciting lives? And it’s only Tuesday.

Update (still Tuesday!): And there’s a Florida angle:

Twin Florida socialites who are at the centre of the David Petraeus affair gained intimate access to America’s military and political elite through their high-rolling lifestyles even as they quietly racked up millions of dollars in debts and credit card bills.

Jill Kelley, whose complaint over threatening emails prompted the FBI inquiry that has ensnared two top generals, is mired in lawsuits from a string of banks totalling $4 million (£2.5 million), court filings obtained by The Daily Telegraph in Florida show.

Meanwhile Mrs Kelley’s identical twin Natalie Khawam – who obtained testimonies to her good character from both Gen Petraeus and Gen John Allen during her own separate legal battle – declared herself bankrupt earlier this year with liabilities of $3.6 million, filings show.

And, then, this:

The Daily Telegraph has learned. Miss Khawam once dated Charlie Crist, the state’s former governor, a Republican source said, while Pam Bondi, its Attorney General and a close ally of Mitt Romney, attended a function at Mrs Kelley’s home.3

And, allegedly, via Huffpost, Jill Kelley, Woman Who Sparked Petraeus Scandal, Ran Questionable Charity:

By the end of 2007, the charity had gone bankrupt, having conveniently spent exactly the same amount of money, $157,284, as it started with — not a dollar more, according to its 990 financial form. Of that, $43,317 was billed as “Meals and Entertainment,” $38,610 was assigned to “Travel,” another $25,013 was spent on legal fees, and $8,822 went to “Automotive Expenses.”

The Kelleys also listed smaller expenses that appear excessive for a charity operating from a private home, including $12,807 for office expenses and supplies, and $7,854 on utilities and telephones.


  1. Update3: and Honorary Consul…to the Republic of South Korea…but somewhat unclear on the concept, it seems. []
  2. Update2: It’s plausible that this number comes from printing out photos or other encoded attachments, which can run to large numbers of pages for a single .gif or .jpg. Thus there may be many fewer emails than this big number suggests. Of course we can all hope for a movie… []
  3. Update 4 (Wed): Crist’s reaction: “Didn’t happen,” he said. “I may have met her.” []
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6 Responses to Curiouser and Curiouser (the Petraeus Affair) – Updated

  1. Jamie says:

    We haven’t had a good, strange spy saga in a while. I do hope this one isn’t a proxy domestic politics fight.

  2. Paul Contreras says:

    You can’t make this stuff up.

  3. Vic says:

    The really important question about all of this is whether the Administration used knowledge of the scandal like a sword of Damocles to get Patreus to play along with the Administration’s preferred narrative about Benghazi, prior to the election. (What we know for sure suggests they COULD have.)

    The unimportant question is whether any of Obama’s supporters will care.

  4. Vic says:

    Or maybe the scandal highlights the distinct possibility that prisoners WERE being held at the Benghazi consulate, in defiance of, or despite, Obama’s 2009 outlawing of such secret CIA prisons. I doubt Broadwell completely manufactured that idea. She might have it wrong, but I doubt SHE made it up. And maybe there WERE repeated attempts at attacking the consulate before 9/11 that went ignored. Maybe THAT’S the real reason why all of this was being swept under the rug for so long. Don’t you think the media should at least show interest in asking?

    What we know is that it’s probably NOT just about Patreus having an affair. Clinton moved THAT goalpost long ago. I suspect there is a huge story here that we aren’t being told.

  5. Jamie says:

    Vic,

    What is *really* interesting is that a tree fell over in Brooklyn, supposedly as part of some “storm”. What evidence would we have about Bhengazi if that tree hadn’t fallen? And has one of these women climbed that tree?

    It would be irresponsible not to speculate.

  6. Brett Bellmore says:

    Evidently the “shirtless photo” business has been grossly misrepresented by the media:
    FBI agent: Shirtless photo was meant as “joke” It was just a funny picture he spammed all his friends with.

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