US lawmakers demand inquiry into Petraeus affair

Last Updated: Monday, November 12, 2012 - 17:31

Washington: Senior US lawmakers have demanded an inquiry into the FBI investigations that brought to light the extramarital affair of former CIA Director David Petraeus, wanting to know when the top general`s name popped up on FBI radar and whether national security was compromised.

"It came like a lightning bolt," Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Dianne Feinstein said yesterday during Congressional hearings on the possible intelligence and security lapses surrounding the terror attack on US mission in Benghazi.
"This is something that could have had an effect on national security," Feinstein said. "I think we should have been told."

She said the committee would "absolutely" investigate why the FBI did not notify relevant officials sooner.

The demand of an inquiry into the Petraeus episode came as law enforcement agencies identified Jill Kelley, 37, of Tampa, as the woman whose report of harassing e-mails eventually exposed an extramarital affair between Petraeus and Paula Broadwell, a former Army officer who wrote a biography of the retired four-star general, the Washington Post reported.

The departure in disgrace of one of the administration`s most respected and prominent figures comes as President Barack Obama is reorgansing his national-security team for a second term. Petraeus was to have been a primary candidate for a berth.

The Petraeus affair overshelved the Congressional hearing with Representative Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, saying, "It just doesn`t add up that you have this type of investigation. The FBI is investigating e-mails, the e-mails leading to the CIA director, taking four months to find out that the CIA director was involved."

"I have real questions about this. I think a timeline has to be looked at and analysed to see what happened," King said on CNN`s "State of the Union."

The FBI investigation began after Kelley visited the bureau`s Tampa office in early summer and provided investigators with harshly worded e-mails accusing her of seeking an intimate relationship with Petraeus.

After Kelley turned over the e-mails, FBI investigators determined that they had come from Broadwell. An examination of Broadwell`s accounts led to the discovery of exchanges between her and Petraeus ? who used an address with a fictitious name, not his CIA or military account.

The FBI concluded from the contents of the e-mails that Broadwell and Petraeus were having an affair.

When Petraeus` name surfaced, officials said, they did not feel it was appropriate to brief anyone outside the Justice Department, including the White House or Congress.

The investigation was ongoing, key interviews had not been conducted and they did not know what role, if any, Petraeus had in the e-mail harassment case, they said.

Before determining whether there had been a security breach, one official said, it would have been premature to discuss such a sensitive issue with anyone outside the investigation.

In late summer, after ruling out any security involvement, high-level Justice Department officials were informed about the harassment investigation regarding Petraeus.

"The FBI had to get to the bottom of it first," the law enforcement official said.

"They had to figure out whether there was a breach. And they eventually determined there wasn`t. But this took time. And we had to figure out what role, if any, Petraeus had with the harassing e-mails, which turned out to be none."

During separate interviews with the FBI, officials said, Petraeus and Broadwell admitted the affair. After a final interview with Broadwell the week of October 22, and with Petraeus the following week, investigators concluded there had been no criminal cyberharassment.

A number of lawmakers said they would insist that Petraeus testify during closed-door hearings this week on the Benghazi attack in which US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed.

The administration has said that Mike Morell, Petraeus` deputy and now acting CIA director, will testify for the agency.

PTI



First Published: Monday, November 12, 2012 - 17:21

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