Continued from page 1

McDill is where U.S. Central Command is based, and Mrs. Kelley and her husband became friendly with Mr. Petraeus and his wife during the time the now-retired general headed the Central Command, defense officials have said. The messages warned Mrs. Kelley to stay away from Mr. Petraeus, according to law enforcement officials.

Some of the emails also indicated advance knowledge of Mr. Petraeus‘ schedule, which would have merited at least a preliminary inquiry, former FBI officials said.

Federal agents then discovered that the sender of the anonymous messages appeared to have access to a personal email account also used by Mr. Petraeus. Mrs. Broadwell and Mr. Petraeus would exchange messages by leaving them in the drafts folder of a shared email account.

Were emails compromised?

National security concerns would have been raised as soon as agents had reason to think Mr. Petraeus‘ email might have been compromised, said Ms. Van Cleave.

“There’s a possible national security dimension, and at that point you have a very different kind of investigation. … [The case] undoubtedly crosses the threshold from a narrow criminal investigation to one with an obvious counterintelligence dimension.”

When FBI agents are chasing foreign spies in counterintelligence cases, they may at times need to inform political leaders about their investigations.

“You would certainly think that [the president] should be informed about a counterintelligence investigation that might reach the CIA director,” said Ms. Van Cleave.

A case could still have counterintelligence implications even if it turned out to be simply an “unfortunate lapse in judgment,” she added.

“What is the appropriate use of personal email by someone in such a sensitive and senior office?” Ms. Van Cleave asked. “We haven’t yet come to grips with that as a government.”

She said senior officials’ personal email accounts, like their personal mobile devices, “are all rich targets of opportunity for foreign intelligence services.”

Ms. Van Cleave added that the government has yet to establish “solid security guidelines for senior officials” to deal with the wide variety of personal communication devices.

Her point was underlined by news this week that Marine Corps Gen. John Allen had sent tens of thousands of what are described as “flirtatous” and “inappropriate” email messages to Mrs. Kelley, while he was commanding U.S. forces in Afghanistan. He met her while he was a deputy to Mr. Petraeus, when he was served at McDill.

Gen. Allen “is not alone in that everyone does it,” said Ms. Van Cleave of the prolific use of professional email accounts for personal communication.

Mrs. Kelley, even more so than Mrs. Broadwell, is exactly the kind of person foreign spies would be trying to recruit, probably as an unwitting accomplice, according to intelligence veterans.

Story Continues →