Members of the US Congress are demanding more details about the FBI investigation that unmasked an extramarital affair between ex-CIA director David Petraeus and his biographer.
Politicians want to know when the renowned retired general popped up in the FBI inquiry, whether national security was compromised and why they were not told sooner.
“We received no advanced notice. It was like a lightning bolt,” said Democrat Dianne Feinstein, who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The FBI was investigating harassing emails sent by Mr Petraeus’ biographer and lover, Paula Broadwell, to a second woman. The probe revealed the affair between Ms Broadwell, 40, and Mr Petraeus, 60. The FBI contacted Mr Petraeus and other intelligence officials and director of national intelligence James Clapper asked Mr Petraeus to resign.
A senior US military official yesterday identified the second woman as Jill Kelley, 37, from Tampa, Florida, an unpaid social liaison to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, the headquarters of the military’s Central Command and Special Operations Command.
Staffers for Mr Petraeus said Ms Kelley and her husband were regular guests at events he held at Central Command headquarters.
In a statement early today, Ms Kelley and her husband Scott said: “We and our family have been friends with General Petraeus and his family for over five years. We respect his and his family’s privacy and want the same for us and our three children.”
A US official said the coalition countries represented at Central Command gave Ms Kelley an appreciation certificate on which she was referred to as an “honorary ambassador” to the coalition, but she has no official status and is not employed by the US government.
The official said Ms Kelley was known to drop the “honorary” part and refer to herself as an ambassador.
He said Ms Kelley had received harassing emails from Ms Broadwell, which led the FBI to examine her email account and eventually discover her relationship with Mr Petraeus.
A former associate of Mr Petraeus confirmed the target of the emails was Ms Kelley, but said there was no affair between the two. The associate, who has been in touch with Mr Petraeus since his resignation, said Ms Kelley and her husband were long-time friends of Mr Petraeus and his wife Holly.
Attempts to reach Kelley were not immediately successful and Ms Broadwell did not return phone calls or emails.
Mr Petraeus resigned while politicians still had questions about the September 11 attack on the US Consulate and CIA base in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including US ambassador Chris Stevens.
It is possible that Mr Petraeus will still be asked to appear on Capitol Hill to give evidence about what he knew about the US response to that incident.
Rep Peter King, chairman of the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee, said the circumstances of the FBI probe smacked of a cover-up by the White House.
“It seems this (the investigation) has been going on for several months and, yet, now it appears that they’re saying that the FBI didn’t realise until election day that General Petraeus was involved. It just doesn’t add up,” he said.
Mr Petraeus resigned on Friday after admitting an extramarital affair. He has been married to Holly Petraeus, with whom he has two children, including a son who led an infantry platoon in Afghanistan as an Army lieutenant, for 38 years.
Ms Broadwell, a graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point, New York, and an army reserve officer, is married with two young sons.
Mr Petraeus’ affair with Ms Broadwell will be the subject of meetings on Wednesday involving congressional intelligence committee leaders, FBI deputy director Sean Joyce and CIA deputy director Michael Morell.
Senator Feinstein said she first learned of Petraeus’ affair from the media late last week and confirmed it in a phone call on Friday with Mr Petraeus. She was eventually briefed by the FBI and said so far there was no indication that national security was breached.
Still, she called the news “a heartbreak” for her personally and US intelligence operations, and said she did not understand why the FBI did not inform her as soon as Mr Petraeus’ name emerged in the investigation.
“We are very much able to keep things in a classified setting,” she said. “At least if you know, you can begin to think and then to plan. And, of course, we have not had that opportunity.”
FBI officials say the committees were not informed until Friday, one official said, because the matter started as a criminal investigation into harassing emails sent by Ms Broadwell to another woman.
Concerned that the emails he exchanged with Ms Broadwell raised the possibility of a security breach, the FBI brought the matter up directly with Mr Petraeus, according to the official.