Report: Petraeus extramarital affair probed due to 'security risk'
US officials say months-long FBI investigation preceded CIA director's resignation over affair with his biographer, who possibly gained access to classified information. Rightist website says resignation delayed to avoid Obama embarrassment
WASHINGTON - David Petraeus, who resigned
on Friday as director of the CIA
after admitting to an extramarital affair, was the subject of an FBI investigation conducted over the past few months, foreign news outlets reported.
US officials with knowledge of the situation said the FBI
discovered Petraeus' affair with his biographer and reserve Army officer Paula Broadwell by monitoring his emails, after being alerted that Broadwell may have had access to the retired four-star general's personal email account.
CNN quoted a US official as saying that after getting a tip that Petraeus was involved in an extramarital affair, the FBI launched an investigation to see if this relationship posed a "potential security risk." The official added there is no suggestion the FBI was probing Petraeus for any criminal wrongdoing, only because they feared he might be "in a vulnerable spot."
Law enforcement officials told NBC News that Broadwell is under FBI investigation for improperly trying to access Petraeus' email and possibly gaining access to classified information.
Broadwell on The Daily Show
Broadwell, the author of Petraeus's biography, "All In: The Education of General David Petraeus," had extensive access to the general for about a year (2010-2011) during his tenure as commander of the US Armed Forces in Afghanistan.
Broadwell, 40, is a research associate at Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership - as well as a PhD candidate in the department of war studies at King’s College in London. She is married to Scott Broadwell, an interventional radiologist, and lives in Dilworth, NC, with their two sons.
In a March 2012 interview with CBS News, Broadwell said of Petraeus, "I got to see a more personal side - he's confident - but he is also very compassionate about the loss of troops and the sacrifices we're making in Afghanistan on the front lines."
"He, at the end of the day, is a human and is challenged by the burdens of command and has mastered wearing the mask of command, if you will," she added. "Because he knows that the commander of 150,000 forces to whom our nation and many other nations were looking for leadership and decisive action needed to show resolve and commitment."
'We all make mistakes.' Broadwell with book on Petraeus (Photo: AP)
Last week Broadwell published her latest piece on the general, titled "David Petraeus’s Rules for Living," in The Daily Beast/Newsweek. "We all will make mistakes. The key is to recognize them and admit them, to learn from them, and to take off the rear-view mirrors - drive on and avoid making them again," she wrote.
During her January 25 appearance on The Daily Show, host Jon Stewart asked Broadwell if Petraeus will run for president. "He’s not," she replied. "My husband wants me to say he is because it'll sell more books. Sorry, honey, I couldn’t do it."
Rightist website Newsmax said Petraeus's email exchanges with Broadwell included sexually explicit references to such items as sex under a desk. The website wondered why Petraeus was not forced out of the CIA before the elections despite the fact that the FBI investigation against him was launched in the spring.
According to Newsmax, at some point after Petraeus was sworn in as CIA director on Sept. 6, 2011, Broadwell 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, the website reported.
US President Barack Obama,
who accepted Petraeus' resignation in a phone call with him Friday afternoon, said that Michael Morell, the agency's long-time deputy director, would serve as acting CIA chief.