Congress Questions FBI’s Secretive Probe of Petraeus

Neither Intelligence Committees Nor President Was Informed

The Friday resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus came as the result of an FBI investigation into his girlfriend/biographer Paula Broadwell, raising questions of the spymaster playing fast and loose with classified data and his personal email account.

But even though it may feel like it to us, the whole thing didn’t happen in a matter of hours. Indications are that the affair began in August 2011 and the FBI’s investigation was ongoing for months, though Petraeus’ involvement wasn’t apparent at the beginning.

The timing of the resignation, immediately after the US presidential election, will no doubt raise questions with a lot of people. This is particularly true of the Congressional intelligence committees, which say they weren’t informed of the investigation, and learned about it when we all did, when Petraeus resigned.

The White House apparently wasn’t informed either, though Petraeus likely knew the jig was up in late October, when he was interviewed by the FBI in connection with the compromising of his email account.

Some are seeing the timing as a way for Petraeus to avoid Senate questioning related to the 9/11 attack in Benghazi. Some say waiting until the election was over was designed to spare Obama a potentially costly embarrassment. Either may be the case, or something else entirely could be behind the timing, as information relating to the scandal is still pouring in.

But the FBI doesn’t just investigate random affairs, or at least they aren’t supposed to. In theory they were obliged to come forward to intelligence officials and the White House the moment it became apparent the case was national security related, which would’ve been at least when they grilled Petraeus. But while bureaucrats love to cover things up, they also like to arbitrarily press the issue when they’ve been kept out of the loop, and this is likely to ensure that we haven’t heard the last of the questions about the FBI’s handling of the case, and why no one else was told about it.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.