Piers Morgan asked a pretty good question of former CIA agent Robert Baer on his show last night, and Baer is just as perplexed as Morgan. David Petraeus suddenly resigned yesterday after the FBI discovered an extramarital affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell, but does the FBI routinely investigate the director of the CIA? Baer tells Morgan, “There is something going on here,” apart from the sexual peccadilloes. Or could it be as simple as the old adage that “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”?
Baer tells Morgan that an affair with a biographer hardly represented a security risk. At least “four or five” DCIAs in Baer’s time had sexual affairs that never warranted an internal security investigation, let alone an outside FBI probe. Perhaps the issue of Broadwell attempting to access Petraeus’ e-mail could have touched something off, but shouldn’t that have been handled by internal CIA security? This was, after all, Petraeus’ G-mail account, not a secure agency account. And even if it was a secure agency account, wouldn’t that prompt an internal investigation rather than an FBI probe?
As Allahpundit noted in the Green Room as a teaser to this post, ABC’s Martha Raddatz says that the probe started outside the CIA, thanks to … a “fatal attraction” problem?
Official tells me sevrl people who knew Petraeus got anonymous harassing emails. So investigation started. Emails then traced to Broadwell.
— Martha Raddatz (@MarthaRaddatz) November 10, 2012
That prompted one of Raddatz’ followers to question Broadwell’s intellect:
— c.(@prettyplusmore) November 10, 2012
I wouldn’t be surprised if this was true — people do some pretty dumb things, even intelligent people, when caught up in affairs — but it sounds rather odd. However, not entirely odd, as Fox hears the same thing:
The FBI investigation that led to the discovery of CIA Director David Petraeus’ extramarital affair and his resignation Friday started when the agency began monitoring Petraeus’ email, Fox News has learned.
The agency was alerted that biographer Paula Broadwell, with whom Petraeus had the affair, may have had access to his personal email account.
The investigation began when someone reported suspicious emails allegedly from Broadwell to the FBI. The agency then determined that she allegedly had emailed a number of government employees. The FBI was at one point trying to determine whether any of the employees were being stalked, sources told Fox News. …
Source said the FBI investigation ended when the agency determined no criminal acts had been committed.
Marc Ambinder then answered the first question:
That does make sense. The CIA can’t investigate domestic crimes outside of the agency; that requires the FBI. One has to think that the FBI, which has a long rivalry with the CIA, had to find the situation somewhat amusing in the end.
On the other hand … who was stalking whom, here (emphasis mine)?
However, an FBI source says the investigation began when American intelligence mistook an email Petraeus had sent to his girlfriend as a reference to corruption. Petraeus was commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan from July 4, 2010 until July 18, 2011.
The investigation began last spring, but the FBI then pored over his emails when he was stationed in Afghanistan.
The woman who was having an affair with Petraeus is a journalist who had been writing about him.
Given his top secret clearance and the fact that Petraeus is married, the FBI continued to investigate and intercept Petraeus’ email exchanges with the woman. The emails include sexually explicit references to such items as sex under a desk.
Such a relationship is a breach of top secret security requirements and could have compromised Petraeus.
At some point after Petraeus was sworn in as CIA director on Sept. 6, 2011, the woman broke up with him. However, Petraeus continued to pursue her, sending her thousands of emails over the last several months, raising even more questions about his judgment.
Still, Paul Mirengoff has an even better point:
If so, then it seems that the affair started before Petraeus became the director of the CIA. The background check on Petraeus when he was being considered for the CIA job must have been incredibly thorough. And, since an affair with an embedded reporter would probably have been difficult to keep fully secret, even an ordinary investigation might well have uncovered word of it.
Thus, it may be that the White House knew of the General’s affair before he became the DCIA.
I find it very difficult to believe that the kind of background check necessary for becoming DCIA would have failed to uncover the affair. If the CIA didn’t learn of the affair in the first place, especially since it appears that Broadwell is hardly the model of discretion, doesn’t that call into question their ability to gather intel even in a fairly target-rich environment? Or if they did, why would the FBI’s discovery of it require a resignation now, rather than a disqualification then?