National Security

New scrutiny on the F.B.I. investigation of Petraeus

Paula Broadwell’s singular focus; The biographer’s athletic reputation, Mansoor: Petraeus will rise again, and more.

On Petraeus, new scrutiny on the F.B.I. investigation. As the story about the abrupt resignation of David Petraeus from the CIA unfolded over the weekend, members of Congress grew angry they had not been informed there was an investigation into his extramarital affair because of potential national security implications. Petraeus' affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, came to light after Broadwell allegedly sent threatening e-mails to another woman, Jill Kelley, seemingly out of jealousy. Kelley, a volunteer for social events at MacDill Air Force Base, and a Petraeus family friend, began receiving the e-mails in May from Broadwell. As they grew increasingly threatening, Kelley reportedly told a friend, an FBI agent, which triggered the investigation. But Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who heads the Intelligence Committee, said on Sunday she should have been informed. "I think we should have been told," she said on Fox News.

But as the NYT reports this morning, the bureau's history "would make the privacy question especially significant," given the improper investigations of the sex lives of public figures directed by J. Edgar Hoover's F.B.I. As a result, the agency was more circumspect. "There are a lot of sensitivities in a case like this," a senior law enforcement official told the Times. "There were hints of possible intelligence and security issues, but they were unproven. You constantly ask yourself, ‘What are the notification requirements? What are the privacy issues?'"

Why a link between Petraeus leaving and Benghazi is unlikely: Although the timing of his departure remains a subject of curiosity for a reasonable person, removing him from the equation does nothing to help the Obama administration in the scrutiny over the Benghazi situation -- he can and may still be subpoenaed by the committees with oversight. And although Feinstein has been critical of the administration's handling of the scandal, she said on Fox yesterday there is "absolutely not" a connection between his resignation and Benghazi.

Welcome to the day after Veteran's Day edition of Situation Report, where we see some irony in the fact that everyone in the national security sphere instinctively knew who the CIA director would be having a secret affair with when news of the affair first popped: her effusive praise for the man during her book tour was over the top, even for a biographer touting her subject. Follow me @glubold. Or hit me anytime at And sign up for Situation Report here: or just send me an e-mail and I'll put you on the list.

But as Washington consumed the salacious details of the unfolding story, questions remain over why Petraeus resigned. It's still not clear why the disclosure of the extramarital affair necessarily resulted in Petraeus -- a Republican darling in an administration now needing to strike a more bipartisan tone -- having to resign. There are at least two threads of thought on the issue. One is that Obama accepted Petraeus' resignation unwillingly but recognized that Petraeus' emphasis on personal integrity meant that he could not lead the CIA any longer. Another is that some administration officials, who never quite trusted Petraeus in the first place and didn't like his instincts on the use of drones and other policy matters, were looking for an excuse to get rid of him.

 The Petraeus house on a cul-de-sac in North Arlington has been quiet, we're told. But Pete Mansoor, a retired colonel who was part of Petraeus' inner circle in Iraq in 2007-08 and who has exchanged e-mails with Petraeus since the news broke, said he "knows for a fact that he will try to repair his relationship with Holly and his kids." Mansoor said: "He's remorseful." Petraeus has long been thought to be interested in leading Princeton, from which he graduated... "I don't think we've seen the last of General Petraeus," Mansoor said. "He will eventually land on his feet."

Meanwhile, Broadwell has been cast as the hyper-ambitious villain in the tawdry story, a woman whose singular focus on the prize and, to people around Petraeus, her dishonesty, should have rung more warning bells but didn't. After meeting Petraeus, Broadwell -- bright, accomplished and attractive -- sought his help as she wrote her dissertation. But as she gained more access to the general known as "P4," her PhD project turned into a book deal that reportedly gave her an advance in the mid-six figures. "And when she turned her supposed dissertation to a trade book that would make her a lot of money, it didn't sit well with me, frankly," Mansoor told Situation Report. "I should have said something to General Petraeus but I didn't," he said, figuring Petraeus was "savvy enough" to figure it out for himself.

Petraeus' inner circle at the time included Mansoor, Steve Boylan, his public affairs officer, and Everett Spain. They routinely advised Petraeus on a number of things, and each had the kind of access to tell truth to power. Speaking generally, Mansoor said of advising Petraeus: "Any one of us could have said, hey, this isn't going to look good, general, you may want to back off here."

Broadwell was the type of woman who called meetings and then abruptly left them when "the general" called. Broadwell's reputation as an over-achiever who would perhaps stop at nothing to get what she wanted was clear. One professional acquaintance of Broadwell's told Situation Report that "her aggression and ambition is so front-and-center that it's off-putting," and told a story in which Broadwell requested a meeting at one point several years ago but then in the middle of the meeting got a phone call. She abruptly ended the meeting. "Oh, it's the general, we're going for a run," she said. "It was drop everything, I gotta go, it was weird from the very beginning," the individual told Situation Report. Broadwell's ambition and narcissism was disconcerting: "Paula didn't strike me as someone who was going to slit your throat in the middle of the night, but maybe someone who would be capable of outing someone," the individual told Situation Report.

The endurance community doesn't think Broadwell is equal to some of her claims about her physical feats. Over the weekend, many weighed in, suggesting that while Broadwell is clearly a strong athlete, she has embellished her reputation. Broadwell's relationship with Petraeus grew in part because of her reported ability to keep up with his fast running pace and her love of physical fitness.

"The race results simply are not there. She is a good athlete, she is not the athlete she reports herself to be," wrote GoJoMo in the Slowtwitch triathalon forum.

Still intriguing: The letter to the NYT Sunday magazine's Ethicist columnist, which has been making the rounds on the Internet since Saturday when it was published online, has a creepy similarity to the Petraeus scandal. But a Times editor Tweeted over the weekend that it is not about Petraeus.

The Tweet: This ?@theethicist column ?  (2nd Q) is NOT about the Petraeus affair, based on our factchecking. Strange, I know.

The letter: "My wife is having an affair with a government executive. His role is to manage a project whose progress is seen worldwide as a demonstration of American leadership. (This might seem hyperbolic, but it is not an exaggeration.) I have met with him on several occasions, and he has been gracious. (I doubt if he is aware of my knowledge.) I have watched the affair intensify over the last year, and I have also benefited from his generosity. He is engaged in work that I am passionate about and is absolutely the right person for the job. I strongly feel that exposing the affair will create a major distraction that would adversely impact the success of an important effort. My issue: Should I acknowledge this affair and finally force closure? Should I suffer in silence for the next year or two for a project I feel must succeed? Should I be "true to my heart" and walk away from the entire miserable situation and put the episode behind me? NAME WITHHELD."

The Ethicists's advice? Don't expose the relationship. "...The fact that you're willing to accept your wife's infidelity for some greater political good is beyond honorable. In fact, it's so over-the-top honorable that I'm not sure I believe your motives are real. Part of me wonders why you're even posing this question, particularly in a column that is printed in The New York Times..."


The Fallout

Twelve Years and Counting




National Security

U.S. has “strong concerns” about Iranian warplane shooting at drone

Stavridis cleared of any wrongdoing, Service associations to Congress: get off your bum, the Washington parlor game of Obama’s cabinet continues, and more.

Iranian fighters belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps shot at an American Predator drone flying near Iran last week. The administration just confirmed the incident Thursday, after CNN's Barbara Starr first reported it yesterday. The Pentagon said the drone was in international airspace and that it was the first time they were aware that an unmanned aircraft had been shot at over international waters in the Arabian Gulf. But Pentagon press secretary George Little would not describe it as an act of war. "I'm not going to get into legal labels," he said at a Pentagon briefing yesterday. "The reality is that we have a wide range of protect our assets and our forces in the region and we'll do so when necessary."

The U.S. expressed its "strong concerns" about the incident to Tehran through the Swiss embassy.

Steve Hadley on Fox last night: "It's a very dicey situation at this point."

A lack of "attention to detail": Adm. Jim Stavridis has been cleared of any wrongdoing after the Pentagon's inspector general investigated Stavridis, the head of U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander, for travel and record-keeping issues. The DoD IG concluded that Stavridis had used military aircraft for unofficial travel without obtaining approval on one occasion and had claimed per diem expenses to which he was not entitled, among other findings. In one instance, he allowed an employee and a family member to accompany him on a military aircraft in connection to a trip to Dijon, France, but didn't follow DoD directives on reimbursing the government.

However, the transgressions were not considered serious and seemed to amount to bad record keeping and poor administrative work on his staff's part. The investigation was begun in February 2011. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus found that Stavridis did not misuse his office and found that most of the problems amounted to reporting and accounting missteps that the admiral corrected. The AP reported that Mabus concluded in a memo: "I have determined that Adm. Stavridis never attempted to use his public office for private gain nor did he commit personal misconduct," Mabus wrote. The problems "reflect poor attention to administrative detail by the office."

Mabus did discuss the issue of oversight with Stavridis, who is well-liked and respected by many and was expected to retire next year after three years in the job. Gen. John Allen has been nominated to replace him.

The investigation, which individuals close to Stavridis had long held would not turn up anything substantive, nonetheless may have contributed to his not getting the nod as the top naval officer, a job he was widely thought to have sought.

Redacted IG report:


The Pentagon will soon announce what will happen to Gen. Ward, the former AFRICOM commander whom the DoD IG was also investigating. George Little, yesterday: "The process is being finalized, and the Army is done what it needs to do in the process. So I think we'll reach resolution relatively quickly."

Greetings from Milwaukee and welcome to the Friday edition of Situation Report, where we give a shout out to Bob Simi, the first Marine officer we ever met in the field -- in Twentynine Palms, Calif. -- in 1999, and thank him for allowing us to drone on at a Marine Corps Birthday event here. Follow me @glubold. Or hit me anytime at And sign up for Situation Report here: or just send me an e-mail and I'll put you on the list.

Apologies for yesterday misstating that a single roadside bomb went off in Helmand Province in Afghanistan; there were multiple explosions in different locations, including in Zabol province.

Seven insiders engage in what George Little calls the "parlor game" of guessing who Obama's new dream cabinet will be. Nonetheless, here goes, for national security positions, these insiders make these picks:

Leslie Gelb: Ash Carter for Sec-Def, Tom Donilon for NSA, David Petraeus for DNI, Joseph Nye for CIA;

Grover Norquist: Dov Zakheim for Sec-Def, a wounded warrior for NSA, David Norquist for DNI, Petraeus for CIA;

Dennis Ross: Carter for Sec-Def, Flournoy for DNI, Petraeus for CIA, Donilon for NSA;

Danielle Pletka: Jack Keane for Sec-Def, "Nobody" for DNI, Petraeus for CIA, Flournoy for NSA;

Andrew Bacevich: Gates for Sec-Def, "GOP Benghazi critic" for DNI, Petraeus for CIA, Chas Freeman for NSA;

Rosa Brooks: Flournoy for Sec-Def, Harold Koh for DNI, John Brennan for CIA, Tony Blinken for NSA;

Mark Leonard: Kurt Campbell for Sec-Def, Anne-Marie Slaughter for DNI, Susan Rice for CIA, Denis McDonough for NSA.

The service associations to Capitol Hill: get off your bum. Sequestration is bringing the services, which clearly work to protect only their own equities, together to tell Congress it must act. The heads of the Air Force Association, the Navy League, and the Association of the United States Army sent a letter yesterday to congressional leaders, urging them not to balance the budget on the "backs of our military." The military is already absorbing $487 billion in budget reductions and sequestration would in effect double that amount at a time when forces are balancing "a broad array of missions with aging equipment and failing personnel strength," according to the letter, obtained by Situation Report.

The Army and Marine Corps "are in desperate need of equipment reset, having been in combat for more than a decade";

The Air Force "has been at war continuously since Desert Storm in 1991, resulting in high-flying time inventory of aircraft that average 25 years in age";

The Navy "attempts to conduct its global missions with a fleet that is its smallest in almost 100 years";

The Coast Guard "is active in 11 mission areas with an aging fleet."

"Ending the specter of sequestration hovering over our defense industrial base and manufacturing sector must occur immediately, and the solution must be a balanced one that acknowledges that our nation faces a wide array of security threats," the letter states.

It was signed by Gordon Sullivan of AUSA, George Muellner of the AFA, and Dale Lumme of the Navy League.

Jim Amos would take a few more ships. Marine Commandant Gen. Jim Amos appeared at CSIS yesterday to say among other things that the small, flexible Marine Corps is a good return on investment, but that the Corps will have a hard time keeping up with global demands for amphibious forces in the coming years as its operations wind down in places like Afghanistan and wind up in the Pacific. As an example, if you listed the amphibious requirements of any regional combatant commander, he said, it would exceed by almost four times the amount of force the Corps can provide. "The requirements are real, we just can't support it. We don't have enough ships. We don't have enough forward deployed forces to be able to satisfy the appetite of the combatant commanders," he said.

The E-Ring's Kevin Baron listened in on the whole speech:

Vets: you get free admission all this weekend to all national parks for Veterans Day.

 Twelve Years and Counting