Senate Intelligence Committee to Probe Petraeus Affair

The committee's top Republican says it will hold hearings during the lame duck session into whether Petraeus's biographer, Paula Broadwell, was given classified information

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David Petraeus submitted his resignation as director of the CIA on November 9, 2012 citing an extramarital affair.

Ask Saxby Chambliss, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, if his panel is going to investigate former CIA Director David Petraeus’s affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, and he sounds downright regretful. “This is a very tragic situation. I grieve for the guy,” Chambliss tells TIME in an interview. But the Georgia Senator says that news reports suggesting that Broadwell may have disclosed classified information in public speeches necessitate the probe. “We’ll look into that specific issue,” he says. “And there are others that give us concerns.”

Chambliss says the committee will move quickly during the lame duck session beginning this month to hold hearings into whether Broadwell was ever given any classified information, as well as to determine how she obtained the classified documents the FBI reportedly found on her computer. Both Broadwell and Petraeus denied that those documents came from the CIA director. The FBI believed them, and declined to pursue a criminal case against Petraeus. “It does seem strange that anything classified can go out in an unclassified setting,” Chambliss says, adding that the best scenario is that it was distributed unintentionally. “The worst scenario is you intended to do it. And that’s what we’ll find out.”

Chambliss said the Senate panel is still determining whether or not it will require Petraeus or Broadwell to appear before the committee. On Monday evening, the FBI was seen removing documents from Broadwell’s home – apparently with her cooperation – as the search broadens into how much, if any, secure information got out. Broadwell has hired the Washington attorney Robert Muse, an expert on congressional investigations.

Petraeus’s fall from grace also “couldn’t happen at a worse time,” Chambliss said, for the ongoing investigation into the Benghazi attack that killed four Americans on Sept. 11. Petraeus had been set to testify in closed hearings this week before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. (Acting CIA director Mike Morell will now take his place.) Petraeus flew to Libya after the attack to discern firsthand what happened at the U.S. consulate there. All three committees have reserved the right to call him back if they feel it’s necessary.

Many conservative conspiracy theorists believe that the Petraeus affair is part of an Obama Administration cover-up of the Benghazi attack. Others think the Administration deliberately withheld the news of the affair until after the election in order to save Obama the embarrassment and distraction of Petraeus’s resignation.

In truth, the timing of the news did have something to do with the election. According to reports, the FBI agent who originally reported Jill Kelley’s complaint of harassing e-mails felt frustrated that the bureau did not pursue the case more aggressively. The agent, who after the initial report was not involved in the case, continued to “nose around” about the investigation, another FBI agent told the New York Times, and mistakenly became convinced — because of his “worldview,” the second agent said — that the affair was being concealed for political reasons. That drove the original agent to contact Rep. Dave Reichert, a Republican from Washington State, whom he asked to convey the information to GOP leadership. Reichert spoke with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Saturday, Oct. 27. That same day, Cantor spoke with the whistleblower. “Cantor spoke to him and determined that the person was credible, but couldn’t verify [the information] because it came from a single source,” says Doug Heye, a Cantor spokesman. “He was concerned sensitive information had been compromised.”

After consulting counsel, Cantor directed his chief of staff to reach out to the FBI’s chief of staff. But on the following Monday and Tuesday, the federal government was closed due to Hurricane Sandy. It was Wednesday, Oct. 31 before Cantor’s office finally spoke with the FBI. Until this point the FBI, having determined no breach of security existed, had been planning to let Petraeus’s affair remain private. (Petraeus, friends of his told the Wall Street Journal, planned to remain in office.)

On Tuesday, Nov. 6, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was briefed on the issue. Clapper told Petraeus he ought to step down. Petraeus offered his resignation to President Obama, who only learned about the scandal hours before he met with Petraeus the next day. Obama slept on it, hoping to avoid losing Petraeus, but ultimately accepted his resignation on Nov. 8. The news broke the following day.

So is this the last we’ll hear from David Petraeus? Chambliss doesn’t think so. “He is a very talented man. He is a great leader and every body makes mistakes,” Chambliss says. “The determination of a strong leader is how you react when you make mistakes. I am very confident that Petraeus will come back very strong.”

36 comments
rorywong654
rorywong654

Conclusion of the finding--most Americans think with their NUTS,including the panel members

BenevolentLawyer
BenevolentLawyer

I am still shocked at the careless manner in which these men conducted these relationships ONLINE. Sending Gmail email, huh??? The head of the CIA uses gmail??? Using Gmail for email, is comparable to walking naked down a busy street, in a busy commercial area. Yet, Allen and Petraeus used Gmail to communicate with their adultery committing cohorts. Gmail???????

Stunning!!

ironyman2
ironyman2

Jay, the Committe is deflecting blame from itself. It.should have probed Petraeus during his confirmation hearings for the CIA post.  They all but genuflected to him. Timing and persistent inside-military rumors point to his having the affair with Mrs. Broadwell while he was in Afghanistan, as commander.This may never come out simply because the committee does not want to be caught in a sloppy transaction. And mayne they think Petraeus has suffered enough. Let me see ... probably not.

JeffLz
JeffLz

It appears that after the election, the news media has nothing better to fill its pages than a "sex scandal". If Petraeus put nationalsecurity at risk (highly unlikely) then he should be punished accordingly after appropriate investigation. If this flap is mainly asleezy way to get readership, then we must move on immediately. The news content is now very low and highly repetitive

kbanginmotown
kbanginmotown

"Senate Intelligence Committee to Probe Petraeus"

Probing Patraeus's probing. That's what started this mess in the first place...

MrObvious
MrObvious

Do we need to blame anyone other then the people involved?

It's obvious that the FBI person in question wanted it to be an October surprise by first going to a GOP operative and then Cantor, but the reality is that men with penises want vagina. And that is in uniform and out of uniform.

Since the first civilization to well beyond the last, humans will fornicate regardless of marital status.

It's not for me; I don't condone it but to make this a political shit storm now months after people already knew about - smells like BS to me.

JohnDahodi
JohnDahodi

TO WHOM WE CAN BLAME? George Bush, Obama, Right wing Republicans or Left wing Democrats? I think, we should blame the Hollywood, Viagra, Cialis, SMART PHONE and TOO MUCH FREE TIME, FLOOD OF MONEY, NO PROPER CHECK AND BALANCE IN CIA-FBI-PENTAGON AND DEFENSE AGENCIES.

SteveJameson
SteveJameson

How many more scandals are we going to have to endure under this Administration? Let's see, in just the past 4 years under this president, we've had more scandals than we've had in the past century, all of which are major incidents of corruption, greed, and lies.- GSA (what a joke)- Secret Service Prostitutes (what a disgrace)- Solyndra (cronyism at is ugliest)- Fast and Furious (Obama protects his own)- Benghazi / Libya (lies, lies, lies....Obama, Susan Rice, Clapper, Carney...lies, lies, lies)- Wall Street Execs and Billion Dollar Bonuses at taxpayer expense- Kathleen Sebelius breaks federal law, keeps her job- Obama administration leaks sensitive national security information for political purposes.- Obama administration tells defense contractors to violate federal law.- ObamaCare crammed down our throats in the middle of the night, bypassing Congress.- Petraeus doing some "undercover" work- the list goes on and on and on...Hope you're happy with your choice America. It's only more of the same for the next 4 years. Corruption, greed, incompetence at every turn.

jmac
jmac

It's interesting that while there are conspiracy theories out there, the conservative Fox News channel has almost gone into radio silence.  It's off the table.  Yesterday, National Review took it off the table - then had one lone article about it.  It apparently is just a sex scandal and a rogue FBI agent trying to play politics (?).   Very sad any way you look at it.   

Murgen_
Murgen_

@BenevolentLawyer Actually, they didn't 'send' the emails. They had accounts that both would use  to leave messages in the 'draft' folder for the other to read. This way, there was no traceable route.

BenevolentLawyer
BenevolentLawyer

@ironyman2 I think they ALL knew of his "Master adulterer" status HA  --but they did not think it was that material (since adultery is like breathing, I am told, to some of the top brass in the military.) It would be disingenuous for anyone genuinely participating in the confirmation hearings, in anyway, to pretend that they did not know of this man's ways.

ironyman2
ironyman2

@JeffLz  Many of us wish these public officials, as they operate on our tax dollars, would be smart enough to keep their private lives to themselves. David Petraeus had a mighty spin machine going from his early days in Iraq, before he was commander.When the Afghan War became "Obama's War," media embraced him, and there you go. He became a true hero - someone to write and talk about. Well, live by the media, get devoured by it, for good ort bad. Now he's doing the bad part. Heh heh. Mr. Big one day with security guards and airplanes, Mr. Has Been the next. His wife is the one in the family with the job now.

jmac
jmac

@JeffLz If this sex scandal had not been reported to Cantor by an FBI "whistleblower" , it would have gone nowhere.  The FBI agent is now being  investigated  - and now that it's in the open Congress has to investigate and that means reporters report on it.   Petraeus would still have his job had the partisan FBI agent kept his mouth shut.   

ironyman2
ironyman2

@JeffLz   I agree, but there obviously many levels to this story that now reach into the military. If men are focusing on their crotches as much as these two mighty military "heroes" seem to have been, it's no wonder we've failed in Afghanistan. Thirty-thoysand email documents between Allen and his lady friend!? Then there's the question and cloud of Benghazi.

jason024
jason024

@JeffLz Since TMZ gets more traffic than half of the newspapers in America...why wouldn't they try this "sex scandal" to get readership?

outsider
outsider

@MrObvious 

Except the idea that classified information was given out. That's no joke. 

I agree about your comments on fidelity - and also don't condone it - but acknowledge it happens. But you can't give out national secrets. 

That part, at the very least has to be investigated. 

Fla4Me
Fla4Me

@SteveJameson You forgot the sinking of the battleship Maine and the Louisiana Purchase...

BenevolentLawyer
BenevolentLawyer

@SteveJameson Let me guess, you wanted the incompetent and entitled "poopy head", Romney, to have been elected. You comment reads like a Hannity show. I am sure you are NOT an ardent viewer of Fox News, and you DO NOT make it a habit to blame the president of the United States for everything that happens in ALL branches of government.

I nominate you the most fair and balanced commenter on this blog.  NOT! 

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

@jmac 

For two reasons:

1) They view Petraeus as a war hero and they're uncomfortable pursuing this whole ordeal.

2) They found out that Cantor knew about this a full month before the election, so any conspiracy theories about how this was kept under the table for the election's sake are dead-on-arrival.

BenevolentLawyer
BenevolentLawyer

@BenevolentLawyer 

Yes, I know they did not click "send", but that is just as stupid. Even in the draft folder, messages are easily read, traceable and quickly compromised. Gmail accounts are totally public. Leaving messages sitting in the "draft" folder is such an old ruse that it is pathetic to read that anyone except 13-year olds still do that! Jessh!  Logging in from different IP addresses is also logged, and easily traced and tracked.

There are many secure email programs and servers online, and these cheating gorillas could have used those more secure options. I guess they were overcome by their brutish and fevered desires driving them nuts night and day. 

ironyman2
ironyman2

@BenevolentLawyer @ironyman2  Very true. No one wants to confront the powerful members of this committee. They certainly won't come clean. Yes, that is true about many military men and women. They sleep around. Truth be known, many of their significant others back home are doing the same. Bet Mrs. Petraeus wish she had. (Maybe she did!)

BenevolentLawyer
BenevolentLawyer

@jmac @JeffLz I am glad Petraeus is gone. I did not like him under Bush, and liked him less under Obama. He seemed like a McChyrstal sort--pompous, disloyal and dismissive. I think Petraeus is the Master of self promotion, and runs a close second to Karl Rove in this area. Their actual achievements have been subsumed by their mastery of self promotion---and they have created this contrived carefully crafted FAKE legendary status for themselves.  

I am glad Patraeus is gone.

jason024
jason024

@outsider2011 @MrObvious It wasn't. Not at least by Petraeus. The FBI investigated and found NOTHING on his part. Now his mistress having classified info is another story all together and should be investigated.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@outsider2011

Investigate it, but this is another political ploy. I'm sure we can find out if anything was wrong without a circus around it.

It's kind of like fast and furious - a complete circus around a serious problem without really doing anything about the problem.

Fla4Me
Fla4Me

@DonQuixotic @jmac I'm very curious about the leak to Cantor.  I wondering if it turns out that the FBI leaker is a mole for Cantor and not some random contact.

Murgen_
Murgen_

@BenevolentLawyer  You are right. At least they could have used some sort of firewall or whatever technology.

Well, as @chrisrockozfan said in his Twitter account: 'If you're head of the CIA & can't hide an extramarital affair it means it can't be done. Case closed. Sorry fellas'

Sorry for answering until now.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@jason024

Investigate away; but our tax money is better spent if our legislators does something useful for a change other then the easy fluff butchery.

Fla4Me
Fla4Me

@BenevolentLawyer @Fla4Me On Chris Matthews' show it was said that the FBI leak came from the same agent that is Jill Kelley's "friend".  Apparently he has a contact close to Cantor and so he passed the info to his contact who took it to Cantor.  The reason for him leaking the information is supposedly that he was impatient with the FBI's handling of the investigation.  I'm guessing he wasn't satisfied with there being no breach of national security or laws broken.

BenevolentLawyer
BenevolentLawyer

@Fla4Me

That would be interesting. I hope the Far Right considers this possibility! I have been wondering why Cantor stayed quiet on this issue. He is certainly no Obama fan. This Petraeus issue was started by a Far Right FBI nut, and I know this "scandal" will end up expanding, and blowing up in their faces--the faces of the Far Right, I mean.