Congress’ questions for Petraeus will have to wait

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Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have questions for former CIA Director David H. Petraeus about the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, his recently disclosed extramarital affair and other issues — but their queries will have to wait for a later date.

Acting CIA Director Michael Morrell will testify Thursday in closed-door hearings of the Senate and House intelligence committees instead of Mr. Petraeus, who resigned abruptly last week after admitting he had an extramarital affair.

Congressional leaders said they want to know when the FBI uncovered Mr. Petraeus‘ affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, during its investigation of threatening emails to a woman close to the former CIA chief, whether national security was compromised, and why the FBI didn’t notify Congress sooner about the affair.

“The FBI has briefed me now. I actually wish we had been briefed a little bit earlier. … We received no advanced notice. It was like a lightning bolt,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat and chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, told “Fox News Sunday.”

A senior U.S. military official identified the second woman as Jill Kelley, 37, who lives in Tampa, Fla., and serves as the State Department’s liaison to the military’s Joint Special Operations Command, where work on secret drone missions and other duties are performed, The Associated Press reported.

The military official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly, said Mrs. Kelley received harassing emails from Mrs. Broadwell, which led the FBI to examine her email account and eventually discover her relationship with Mr. Petraeus.

A friend of Mrs. Kelley and Mr. Petraeus, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity, also said the two saw each other often, but the nature of their friendship was unclear, AP reported.

On Sunday night, Mrs. Kelley and her husband, Scott, issued a statement saying their family has “been friends with Gen. Petraeus and his family for more than five years. We respect his and his family’s privacy and want the same for us and our three children.”

Mr. Petraeus, who turned 60 on Wednesday, tendered his resignation Thursday to President Obama, and informed CIA employees of his action — and his affair — on Friday.

He resigned amid congressional scrutiny of the Obama administration’s response to the assault on the U.S. Consulate, in which U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

Intelligence committee leaders will question Mr. Morrell and FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce about Mr. Petraeus‘ affair during meetings Wednesday, a day before the closed-door hearing at which Mr. Petraeus originally was scheduled to appear.

Congressional leaders indicated that they still might call on Mr. Petraeus to testify eventually.

“I would not rule out Gen. Petraeus being called to testify. That still could happen at some point in time,” Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Georgia Republican and vice chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“I don’t see how in the world you can find out what happened in Benghazi before, during and after the attack if Gen. Petraeus doesn’t testify,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

One former senior congressional staffer, who asked for anonymity because of the sensitivity of current employers, told The Washington Times that Mr. Petraeus would be “duty-bound” to testify, even as a private citizen.

“He is still subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. He could be asked to testify as a former senior official, and if he refuses — which I don’t think he would — he could be subpoenaed,” said the staffer, who is the director of a House subcommittee.

Mr. Chambliss said that, in the meantime, it is “fine” for Mr. Morrell to testify in Mr. Petraeus‘ place at Thursday’s classified hearing, along with Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Matthew Olson, the head of the National Counterterrorism Center.

Mr. Morrell “certainly was there when all the decisions were made relative to Benghazi,” the senator said.
Mrs. Feinstein also ruled out any connection between Mr. Petraeus‘ resignation and its postelection disclosure, and political fallout from the Benghazi incident. For several days after the attack, administration officials said it emerged from spontaneous protests, not terrorists.

There was “absolutely not” any connection to Benghazi, Mrs. Feinstein said. “And, I think if you really think this thing out, you will — everybody will come to that same conclusion.”

But Rep. Peter T. King, New York Republican and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told CNN’s “State of the Union” that the details leaked to the media so far do not makes sense to him.

“It seems this [investigation] has been going on for several months, and yet now it appears that they’re saying the FBI did not realize until Election Day that Gen. Petraeus was involved. It just doesn’t add up,” said Mr. King, who also is a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. “I have real questions about this. I think the timeline has to be looked at.”

Mr. Petraeus has been married 38 years to Holly Petraeus, with whom he has two adult children, including a son who led an infantry platoon in Afghanistan as an Army lieutenant.

Mrs. Broadwell, a 40-year-old graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and an Army Reserve officer, is married with two young sons.

Mrs. Broadwell has not responded to multiple emails and phone messages.

Attempts to reach Ms. Kelley were not immediately successful, AP reported.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

About the Author
Shaun Waterman

Shaun Waterman

Shaun Waterman is an award-winning reporter for The Washington Times, covering foreign affairs, defense and cybersecurity. He was a senior editor and correspondent for United Press International for nearly a decade, and has covered the Department of Homeland Security since 2003. His reporting on the Sept. 11 Commission and the tortuous process by which some of its recommendations finally became ...

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