It was a married Florida woman who blew the lid off the scandalous affair that led retired General David Petraeus to resign as CIA chief when she told the FBI of allegedly threatening e-mails she’d received from his lover, sources said yesterday. Jill Kelley (37) of Tampa — a social liaison to the powerful Joint Special Operations Command — reported the jealous messages from Petraeus biographer Paula Broadwell, who is accused of sleeping with the married four-star general, to the FBI, sources said.
When Kelley read Broadwell’s e-mails, she was so scared that she went to the FBI for protection, according to a source, who said she initially approached a Florida field office of the FBI — not its headquarters — with a complaint of cyber-harassment. She had received numerous intimidating e-mails from a handful of pseudonymous addresses.
The FBI — fearing that the nation’s top spy was the victim of an e-mail hacker — traced the messages to Broadwell, and in the process discovered tawdry messages between her and Petraeus. High-level Justice Department officials knew by late summer of an ongoing investigation involving Petraeus, a source said.
Kelley, a mother of three, and Petraeus are friends who see each other often, sources said. “We and our family have been friends with General Petraeus and his family for over five years. We respect his and his family’s privacy and want the same for us and our three children,” Kelley said in a statement.
Petraeus has told friends he never had a romantic relationship with Kelley and saw her only when she was with her husband. Law-enforcement officials said that they’ve uncovered no evidence of an affair between Kelley and Petraeus, and called her “a victim” who received threatening missives. Broadwell and Petraeus have declined to comment.
The investigation has now triggered angry reaction from both Democratic and Republican politicians, who are asking whether national security could have been compromised. “We received no advanced notice. It was like a lighting bolt,” said Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, who leads the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Republican Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said he wanted to know why the FBI only tipped off the White House on election day. “It doesn’t add up,” he said adding, “I have real questions about this. I think a timeline has to be looked at and analysed to see what happened.” The FBI says it followed protocol, and had found nothing to suggest any threat to national security.