Threatening emails ‘brought down CIA chief’

November 11, 2012 8:27 am
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Barack Obama has praised David Petraeus for ‘intellectual rigor, dedication, and patriotism’ © AFP/File Jim Watson

, WASHINGTON, Nov 11 – The plot surrounding the resignation of CIA chief David Petraeus over an extramarital affair thickened on Sunday amid reports that his alleged lover had sent emails to a second woman she viewed as a threat to her love interest.

The affair came to light as the FBI was investigating whether a computer used by Petraeus — a married father of two — had been compromised, the New York Times and other US media reported, citing government officials.

NBC News and other media reported the Federal Bureau of Investigation was focusing on Paula Broadwell, co-author of a favorable biography of Petraeus, for possible improper access to classified information.

Unnamed officials told the Times that Petraeus’s lover was Broadwell, a former Army major who spent long periods interviewing Petraeus for her book.

Broadwell, who is married herself and has two small children, offered no public comment on the revelations.

The Times and The Washington Post, citing an official briefed on the case, reported Saturday that the probe had been triggered by “harassing” emails sent by Broadwell to an unidentified second woman.

The recipient of the emails was so frightened, The Post reported, that she went to the FBI for protection and to help track down the sender.

According to the Post, the second woman did not work at the CIA and her relationship with Petraeus remains unclear. However, the e-mails indicated that Broadwell perceived her as a threat to her relationship with the top spymaster, the paper said.

While Obama praised Petraeus as he acknowledged his departure, there was no denying it added to his headache over the makeup of his future administration, already expected to lose heavyweights such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Obama had no inkling Petraeus was about to leave until Thursday morning and refused to accept his resignation straight away, the New York Times reported.

“He was surprised, and he was disappointed,” the Times quoted one senior administration official as saying. “You don’t expect to hear that the Thursday after you were re-elected.”

According to the paper, White House officials were only informed of the matter late Wednesday, a day after the election.

Obama had no inkling Petraeus was about to leave until Thursday morning and refused to accept his resignation straight away, the New York Times reported.

A senior intelligence official told the Times that US director of national intelligence James Clapper learned of the situation on Tuesday and had told Petraeus that “the right thing to do” would be to resign.

As he heads into his second term, Obama will likely have to replace not only Clinton, but also Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.

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