By now you’ve probably heard about the extramarital affair surrounding the Director of the Central Intelligence (CIA) General David Petraeus, which has been all over the news and trending on Twitter.
The scandal, involving one of the country’s most respected retired Army generals, has a lot of twists and turns, making it comparable to the steamy drama we loved from the original cast on 90210 ('90s babies, think Degrassi.)
Just in case you haven’t been able to keep up with all the twists in this scandal between two (or maybe three) secret lovers, here’s the backdrop of what went down.
As mentioned, General David Petraeus is a highly revered figure who’s renowned for his efforts in leading America’s “War on Terror” in Afghanistan and Iraq. He holds a Ph.D from Princeton and he is credited by the media for "saving" the fiasco in Iraq.
However, his career credentials came crashing down when he resigned from the CIA on Friday after his affair was exposed with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, a 40-year-old Army Reserve officer and commentator on military affairs. Both the 60-year-old general and Broadwell are married with children. In a statement he said,
"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.”
It turns out that the FBI was investigating their affair for months.
How It All Began…
Petraeus and Broadwell first met in 2006 at a Harvard Grad School event while she was studying there. In 2008, she began studying to receive her Ph.D. in war studies and writing an analysis on Petraeus’ tenure in the military. He eventually granted her unlimited access to shadow him. Broadwell decided to turn her analysis into a biography in 2010 when he was placed in charge of the Afghanistan War.
Her access to Petraues continued even when he retired from the Army and was then appointed as the CIA director in 2011. Her biography titled, All In: The Education of David Petraeus, was published earlier this year.
Sources close to Petraus say that the two began to engage in a secret intimate relationship after he retired from the Army, but other sources show they were romantically involved even while he was in the Army. Nonethess, Broadwell dismissed all hearsay and insisted that Petraeus was her mentor and that their relationship was strictly professional.
Petraeus prided himself on upholding a high standard of integrity and honor. He taught his mentees that character was determined by what someone did when no one was looking, and he stressed that someone is always looking. In effect, many people did not think that his tight relationship went beyond professional limits.
As things got heated between the secret lovers, tensions raised between Broadwell and another woman whom she felt threatened by named Jill Kelley.
Kelley was a family friend of the Petraeuses who volunteered as an event planner at his military base in Florida. She and her husband also spent Christmases with Petraeus and his wife. Broadwell threatened Kelley “to back off” her paramour through a series of anonymous emails. Petraeus reportedly sent Kelley a shirtless pic of him and Broadwell claims that she spotted Kelley getting too touchy-feely with Petraeus under a table.
Kelley reported the emails to an FBI official friend, which resulted in the launch of an investigation. That’s when they traced the emails back to Broadwell. They got a warrant to search her personal email and retrieved messages that indicated that she and Petraeus were having an affair. However, law enforcement officers did not determine that classified info was shared between the two.
In late October, Broadwell and Petraues confessed to having an affair to FBI agents who then reported the incident to James Clapper, the director of national intelligence and a friend of Petraeus on Election Day. In turn, Clapper suggested that Petraeus resign from his position the next day. President Obama found out about the matter on Thursday and accepted his letter of resignation the following day.
However, the drama doesn’t end there. Through sources close to Petraeus insist that their hush-hush relationship began after he retired from the Army and was appointed as the CIA director on Sept 6, 2011, the timeline of events show otherwise. If it is proven that the two were messing around while he was an Army General, then he and Broadwell could be charged and prosecuted for adultery under the military's legal codes, Article 134, which condemns conduct "of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces."
In addition to that, the scandal has also jeopardized Petraeus’ credibility being that Broadwell made a public declaration about secret intelligence that critics say she may have received from him relating to the US attacks in Libya earlier this year.
During a lecture at the University of Denver, Broadwell declared that the CIA "had taken a couple of Libyan militia members prisoner and they think that the attack on the consulate was an effort to try to get these prisoners back." She added, "That's still being vetted” and that "the challenging thing for General Petraeus is that in his new position he's not allowed to communicate with the press. So he's known all of this."
Whether her assertion is true or not, the CIA has rejected her claims as false. However, there’s a lot of speculation about her sources for this information and if it derived from Petraeus.
The editors of Wired's Danger Room blog lay out the affair as a serious breach in security, stating,
"not only did Petraeus conduct an affair that could conceivably open up the CIA director to blackmail, he exhibited poor data security, setting up a pseudonymous email account to correspond with his paramour—one that the FBI easily traced back to him using the breadcrumb trails of Gmail metadata."
The Plot Thickens
It was revealed earlier today that the FBI agent who Jill Kelley told about her threatening emails was romantically linked to her. The Wall Street Journal reports:
The FBI agent who started the case was a friend of Jill Kelley, the Tampa woman who received harassing, anonymous emails that led to the probe, according to officials. Ms. Kelley, a volunteer who organizes social events for military personnel in the Tampa area, complained in May about the emails to a friend who is an FBI agent. That agent referred it to a cyber crimes unit, which opened an investigation. However, supervisors soon became concerned that the initial agent might have grown obsessed with the matter, and prohibited him from any role in the investigation, according to the officials. One official said the agent in question sent shirtless photos to Ms. Kelley well before the email investigation began, and FBI officials only became aware of them some time later. Eventually, supervisors told the agent he was to have nothing to do with the case, though he never had a formal role in the investigation, the official said.
According to a senior U.S. defense official, the FBI has uncovered between 20,000 and 30,000 pages of "potentially inappropriate" emails between Allen and Jill Kelley, a 37-year-old Tampa woman whose close friendship with Petraeus ultimately led to his downfall. Allen, a Marine, succeeded Petraeus as the top allied commander in Afghanistan in July 2011. The FBI first notified the Pentagon of its investigation into Allen’s communications with Kelley on Sunday evening, according to the senior defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details of the ongoing case. In response, Pentagon chief Leon E. Panetta referred the investigation to the Defense Department's Inspector General for further review, according to a statement released by Panetta early Tuesday as he was traveling to Australia.
The Next Chapter
As you can see, we can only leave you here, but we have a feeling that is not the last of the details that you will hear surrounding this case.