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Did the Obama Admin Know About the Petraeus Affair in Summer 2011?


"It was like a lightning bolt."

  • Fox News report claims White House Counterterrorism advisor John Brennan knew about affair in summer 2011
  • Former Gen. Petraeus aide claims that affair did not commence until late 2011
  • Congress is seeking answers regarding why officials weren't informed and whether affair posed security compromises 
  • The Gen. David Petraeus saga continues. Following his resignation on Friday from the CIA, attention is now shifting to questions surrounding how long, if at all, Obama administration officials knew about his affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell. The stunning possibility that at least one official knew about the affair as early as 2011 emerged in a Fox News report this morning. However, differing time-lines and claims make this information difficult to nail down.

    As TheBlaze noted in a previous report, Fox claimed earlier today that Holly Petraeus, the ex-CIA director's wife, potentially knew about the affair before information was released to the public. But the more noteworthy claim in the same report is that the FBI was allegedly aware of it as well.

    While the FBI purportedly knew of Petraeus' relationship with Broadwell months before it was released to the public, Fox News' Jennifer Griffin and Adam Housley claim that at least one Obama administration official knew the details more than one year ago. According to Griffin and Housley, "White House Counter-terrorism advisor John Brennan reportedly was aware that there was a relationship in the summer of 2011."

    A June 23, 2011 photo shows Paula Broadwell (2nd L) watching as General David Petraeus (R) and his wife Holly Petraeus (3rd L) arrive for a Senate Select Intelligence Committee hearing on Petraeus' nomination to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington. Petraeus resigned as director of the Central Intelligence Agency on November 9, 2012 after admitting to an extramarital affair with Broadwell. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

    Considering the timeline, though, this would raise a number of red flags. At the end of June 2011, the ex-general was confirmed by the Senate to be the director of the CIA. If the aforementioned allegation is true, then the administration potentially knew around the time of the confirmation or directly after.

    Now, here's where the details get a bit murky. In an Associated Press article today, a former top aide to Petraeus and one of his close friends said that the affair did not begin until two months after the former general took his position at the CIA.

    Since he commenced his position in September, if this account is true, the affair did not start until late 2011. In this scenario, it would have been impossible for Brennan to be aware of an extramarital scandal during the summer of that year that had, obviously, not yet started.

    The claim that the affair commenced months after Petraeus took his position comes from Steve Boylan, a friend of the official's family and a former spokesman who connected with the former CIA-head over the weekend. According to Boylan, the affair between Petraeus and Broadwell ended four months ago.

    The stunning revelations about the extramarital activities of Petraeus, a retired four-star general and perhaps the nation’s most revered military figure, has sparked an outcry in Congress over allegations that the FBI did not inform lawmakers about the probe in a timely fashion.

    David Petraeus, commander of US forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, meets with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (not seen) in Cairo on June 29, 2009. Petraeus is on an official visit to Egypt. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

    This morning, TheBlaze reported that a military official, on condition of anonymity, identified 37-year-old Jill Kelley as the catalyst for the investigation that discovered the affair. He said Kelley had received harassing emails from Broadwell, which led the FBI to examine her email account and eventually discover her relationship with Petraeus. The FBI contacted Petraeus and other intelligence officials, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper asked Petraeus to resign.

    A former associate of Petraeus confirmed the target of the emails was Kelley, but said there was no affair between the two, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the retired general’s private life. The associate, who has been in touch with Petraeus since his resignation, said Kelley and her husband were longtime friends of Petraeus and his wife.

    Members of Congress said Sunday they want to know more details about the FBI investigation that revealed the extramarital affair between Petraeus and his biographer, Paula Broadwell. They questioned when the retired general popped up in the FBI inquiry, whether national security was compromised and why they weren’t told sooner.

    ‘‘We received no advanced notice. It was like a lightning bolt,’’ Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, said.

    Not everyone was kept out of the loop, though. An FBI whistleblower told House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) in late October that ex-CIA Director David Petraeus had been involved in an extramarital affair and was potentially putting national security at risk, the New York Times reported Saturday.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report. 



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