Shocker: Powerful Man Can’t Keep It In His Pants (Updated)

The news that General Petraeus has resigned as head of the CIA on account of an extra-marital affair appears to have shocked establishment DC and the entire national security establishment.

Former aides to Petraeus, who led the U.S. military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, said they “never in a million years” would’ve believed that Petraeus would risk his storied career in such a fashion. But he did. CIA representatives confirmed the authenticity of the letter to Danger Room. “He feels that he screwed up.  He did a dishonorable thing and needed to try to do the honorable thing,” one former confidant says in an e-mail….“This had nothing to do with Benghazi or relationship with the White House — which by the way was excellent — or anything else for that matter,” the aide tells Danger Room. “Just his flawed behavior.”

Whoever the third party is, this is no ordinary affair. A resignation would not have been offered or accepted unless the “other woman” comrpomised Petraeus’ security clearance in a very obvious way – we’re done with the “honey pot” era where just having had an affair meant senior officials could be blackmailed into aquiesence by an unscrupolous party, as admitting an affair on its own is no longer a bar to high office.

The DC establishment may be gobsmacked by this but I have to say I am not. In 2008, a military source came to me with a story about Petraeus having an affair while in Iraq in 2005, while he was in charge of training the Iraqi security forces. The name I was given would present a very definite compromise to Petraeus’ current security clearances and I believe that person may be the one referred to in Petraeus’ current resignation (Update: obviously I was wrong about that last bit – but the date of the FBI investigation, starting in September 2011, might fit as a reason for that investigation). Unfortunately the source refused to go public and I felt the story was unsupportable without his public testimony, so I never published it. Oh, and I was assured by insiders that David Petraeus would never cheat on his beloved wife Holly. Hmmm.

But as to Petraeus doing the “honorable thing” – that would have been not having an affair in the first place, ending one relationship before he began another.

Update: Rightwing nutjobs are having none of it, screaming that Petraeus’ resignation must signal that the man who has been touted as a possible future Republican presidetial nominee is falling on his sword to cover up what happened in Benghazi for Obama. That is, that Petraeus’ public, humiliating concession to an affair is made up. Sheesh.

Update 2: A name has been floated by Fred Kaplan at Slate and others.

Richard Engel: Petraeus being investigated to see if Paula Broadwell had access to his emails and classified information

— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) November 9, 2012

Broadwell is a reporter for the Daily Beast and author of a book on Petraeus. This is not the same name that was given to me as the mistress in an affair Petraeus was allegedly in in 2005/06. Serial adulterer? In January, a profile by her local Bismarck Tribune had the lede “She put her doctoral dissertation and her personal life on hold to tell the story of a man who rewrote the rules for modern warfare” and continued “It was Broadwell’s belief that firsthand experience with Petraeus was the only way to tell his story. Broadwell went on runs with Petraeus, followed him to his twice-weekly visits to the battlefield, watched as he worked with U.S. and coalition politicians and lawmakers and observed how he handled the burden of command and the tragedies of war.”

The story was accompanied by this picture:

Broadwell is married to a radiologist, Dr. Scott Broadwell, and the two have two young boys. The AP says the affair was “discovered in the course of an FBI investigation”.

P.S. We’re getting a lot of hits from folk doing an image search for Dr. Scott Broadwell. Here, courtesy of the Daily Mail, who raided his facebook page…

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Steve Hynd

Most recently I was Editor in Chief of The Agonist from Feb 2012 to Feb 2013. My blogging began at Newshoggers and I’ve had the immense pleasure of working with some great writers there and around the web ever since, including at Crooks & Liars. I'm a late 40′s, Scottish ex-pat, now married to a wonderful Texan, with Honours in Philosophy from Univ. of Stirling, UK 1986. I worked most of life in business insurance industry (fire, accident, liability) including 12 years as a broker/underwriter/correspondent at Lloyd’s of London. Being from the other side of the pond, my political interests tend to focus on how US foreign policy affects the rest of the planet. Other interests include early and dark-ages British history, literature and cognitive philosophy/science.

4 CommentsLeave a comment

  • from Digby’s thread Say adios to The Man Called Petraeus:

    Update: Reader “Flip” makes a nice catch. Petraeus’s resignation letter says, “After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair.” But Petraeus has actually been married for more than 38 years; the wedding was on July 6, 1974. In other words, if you read the resignation letter carefully, he’s telling you that this happened sometime between July 2011 and July 2012, not recently. Why didn’t he resign sooner? Or, on the flip side, why didn’t he try to hang on longer if he’d held on this long already?

    More from the NYT: Petraeus Quits; Evidence of Affair Was Found by F.B.I.:

    Senior members of Congress were alerted to Mr. Petraeus’s impending resignation by intelligence officials about six hours before the C.I.A. announced his resignation. One Congressional official who was briefed on the matter said that Mr. Petraeus had been encouraged “to get out in front of the issue” and resign, and that he agreed.

    As for how the affair came to light, the Congressional official said that “it was portrayed to us that the F.B.I. was investigating something else and came upon him. My impression is that the F.B.I. stumbled across this.”


    The Federal Bureau of Investigation did not inform the Senate and House Intelligence Committees about the inquiry until this week, according to Congressional officials, who noted that by law the panels — and especially their chairmen and ranking members — are supposed to be told about significant developments in the intelligence arena. The Senate committee plans to pursue the question of why it was not told, one official said.

    The revelation of a secret inquiry into the head of the nation’s premier spy agency raised urgent questions about Mr. Petraeus’s 14-month tenure at the C.I.A. and the decision by Mr. Obama to elevate him to head the agency after leading the country’s war effort in Afghanistan. White House officials said they did not know about the affair until this week, when Mr. Petraeus informed them.

  • CIA Chief Resigns Over Affair

    Petraeus Relationship With Biographer Surfaced After FBI Probe of His Email

    WSJ, By Devlin Barrett, Siobhan Gorman & Julian E. Barnes, November 9

    Washington — Central Intelligence Agency Director David Petraeus resigned after a probe into whether someone else was using his email led to the discovery that he was having an extramarital affair, according to several people briefed on the matter.

    A Federal Bureau of Investigation inquiry into use of Mr. Petraeus’s Gmail account led agents to believe the woman or someone close to her had sought access to his email, the people said.

    Multiple officials familiar with the investigation identified the woman as the author of a biography on Mr. Petraeus.


    The computer investigation began late this spring, according to a person familiar with the investigation. Mr. Petraeus wasn’t interviewed by the FBI until recently.

    While Mr. Petraeus was still a general, he had email exchanges with the woman, but there wasn’t a physical relationship, the person said. The affair began after Mr. Petraeus retired from the Army in August 2011 and ended months ago, the person said.

    Foreign Policy Hagiography: The tragedy of David Petraeus.

  • Very sad situation all the way around – for his wife and family, and for Mrs. Broadwell’s husband and their children. It sounds like he or the two of them resisted having an affair while he was in the Army, but gave in once he left the military. Perhaps he didn’t understand the risks he was running as head of the CIA, or when he did understand it they then broke off the affair.

    The FBI role in this is certainly curious. They must do routine checks of email usage by all high government officials, and came across someone (perhaps other than Mrs. Broadwell) accessing his account. I imagine they were expecting to find Chinese hackers and were surprised at discovering an affair underway. Why wouldn’t Petraeus know about these FBI investigations, especially if they are routine? He seems like a CIA director who has little knowledge of what is going on in Washington.

  • Over at Pat Lang’s blog there is much discussion about the fact that Patreaus is still subject to military justice. “He is a retired general and still on the Army list and subject to UCMJ article 134 for adultery. This is seldom prosecuted but can be. ” He would have been more vulnerable to blackmail by any military type that knew of the affair because of this fact. Sounds like someone alerted FBI.

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