, WASHINGTON, Nov 12 – The FBI uncovered the affair that led to the resignation of CIA chief David Petraeus while investigating threatening emails sent by his lover to a second woman, according to US media reports.
Petraeus, an American hero credited with turning the tide of the Iraq war, resigned on Friday after admitting an extramarital affair, sending shockwaves around Washington just three days after President Barack Obama’s re-election.
It has emerged that his paramour was Paula Broadwell, a 40-year-old former Army major granted unprecedented access to the general as she co-authored a best-selling biography: “All In: The Education of General David Petraeus.”
Newspaper reports revealed that the affair came to light when the FBI was called in as part of a criminal investigation launched when a second woman complained that she had received vicious emails from Broadwell.
“It didn’t start with Petraeus, but in the course of the investigation they stumbled across him,” an unnamed congressional official briefed on the matter told The New York Times.
The threatening and harassing emails from Broadwell, a married mother of two, indicated that she thought the other woman was a potential rival for the 60-year-old general’s affections, officials told the US media.
A government official told The New York Post that the emails contained such language as: “I know what you did,” “back off” and “stay away from my guy.”
US media identified the other woman as 37-year-old Jill Kelley, a “social liaison” to a Florida air force base who apparently had a longstanding friendship with Petraeus but no official status in the military.
The recipient of the emails was so frightened, according to the Washington Post, that several months ago she went to the FBI for protection and to help track down the sender.
The FBI soon uncovered Broadwell’s sexually explicit correspondence with Petraeus, leading to initial fears of a national security breach if someone had broken into the CIA chief’s private email account.
Investigators first interviewed Petraeus “about two weeks ago,” law enforcement officials told the Post.
The FBI has concluded that there will not be criminal charges, US media reports said, citing law enforcement sources.
– Republicans scent conspiracy –
Obama’s director of national intelligence James Clapper was only informed of the situation on Tuesday evening, providing a dramatic behind-the-scenes backdrop to the president’s re-election night.
Clapper discussed things with Petraeus on Wednesday and advised him “the right thing to do would be to resign,” an intelligence official told the Times. Obama was not told until Thursday morning, the White House said.
Republicans have pointed to the fact that Petraeus was days away from testifying about the September 11 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya as evidence of some kind of conspiracy.
A leading Republican questioned Sunday why, if there were serious concerns about comprised intelligence, it took several months for the FBI to finally notify the Obama administration.