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WaPo: Broadwell sent threatening e-mails to another woman close to Petraeus

posted at 5:17 pm on November 10, 2012 by

So yeah, this is every bit as tawdry and soap opera-ish as you might have suspected.

The collapse of the dazzling career of CIA Director David H. Petraeus was triggered when a woman with whom he was having an affair sent threatening e-mails to another woman close to him, according to three senior law enforcement officials with knowledge of the episode.

The recipient of the e-mails was so frightened that she went to the FBI for protection and help tracking down the sender, according to the officials. The FBI investigation traced the threats to Paula Broadwell, a former military officer and a Petraeus biographer, and uncovered explicit e-mails between Broadwell and Petraeus, the officials said…

The identity of the woman who received the e-mails was not disclosed, and the nature of her relationship with Petraeus is unknown. The law enforcement officials said the e-mails indicated that Broadwell perceived the other woman as a threat to her relationship with Petraeus…

The law enforcement officials did not provide an exact timeline for the investigation, but they said that the inquiry started at least several weeks ago. They said investigators thought they were dealing with a routine harassment case until they discovered the e-mails were traced to a private e-mail account belonging to Petraeus.

Am I reading that last bit right? Broadwell was sending the e-mails from Petraeus’s own Gmail account? And yet there are no criminal charges in the offing? Again, the only way I can square that is if he had somehow voluntarily granted her access to that account, presumably as a resource for her writings about him.

A little more on Broadwell from a “senior military source” who spoke to Business Insider. “P4” is, of course, Petraeus:

I’ve known her for a few years, probably five or six. When she started work on the bio she called me for background on one of the general’s previous deployments. I probably gave her four hours or so, and we stayed in touch after that by email and an occasional phone call. Over that time, she went from someone very likeable to a shameless self-promoting prom queen. A very disturbing shift in how she carried herself. If she knew P4 was going to make an appearance at an event, she’d crash it without an invitation (she actually did this at the wedding of some close friends of mine) and photo bomb[ed] sic everyone there.

According to the NYT, the woman who received the threatening e-mails from Broadwell wasn’t a family member but she also wasn’t a government official. That makes me think the e-mails must have been truly hair-raising. The threshold for the FBI to take up a cyber-harassment case between what at first appeared to be two random private citizens must be high. What did Broadwell say in those e-mails to make the feds take this so seriously?

Update: Good point from the comments:

Yeah, but they didn’t arrest Broadwell, so how hair raising could they be?

Even if she doesn’t work in government, maybe the woman who received the e-mails has enough status in her own sphere that the FBI felt obliged to take the attempt to harass her seriously.

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