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David Petraeus

Luke Sharrett, New York Times

Petraeus had not planned to resign

  • Article by: KIMBERLY KINDY
  • Washington Post
  • November 12, 2012 - 11:36 PM

WASHINGTON - CIA Director David Petraeus did not intend to resign from his position until it became clear that his extramarital affair with his biographer would become public after a federal investigation of his e-mail accounts, according to two longtime military aides who admire the retired general.

In a farewell letter last week to CIA staff members, Petraeus described his affair with Paula Broadwell as behavior that is "unacceptable both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours." The statement and others from his allies in the days that followed created an impression that he had stepped down of his own volition, and out of a sense of moral obligation.

But some of his closest advisers who served with him during his last command in Iraq said Monday that Petraeus had planned to stay in the job even after he acknowledged the affair to the FBI, hoping the episode would never become public. He resigned last week after being told to do so by James Clapper, director of National Intelligence, on the day President Obama was re-elected.

"Obviously, he knew about the relationship for months, he knew about the affair, he was in it, so yes, he was not going to resign," said Peter Mansoor, a retired Army colonel and Petraeus' executive officer during the Iraq "surge," who spoke Monday with the former general for about half an hour. "But once he knew it was going to go public, he thought that resigning was the right thing to do."

Steven Boylan, who served as Petraeus' public affairs officer during that same 2007-2008 period in Iraq, said the retired four-star general "felt he had to resign once he knew it would be made public. He didn't feel he could lead the organization with this being out there."

A more detailed timeline of the events that upended the career of one of the nation's most accomplished military officers emerged from interviews with former Petraeus advisers, people close to Broadwell, law enforcement officials, and people close to Petraeus family friend Jill Kelley, who received harassing e-mails from Broadwell that triggered the FBI investigation and exposed the affair.

FBI agents were at Broad-well's home in Charlotte, N.C., on Monday night and appeared to be conducting a search. An FBI spokeswoman confirmed the agents' presence but did not say what they were doing.

Told Broadwell to stop e-mails

The new information shows that Petraeus told Broadwell last summer to stop sending the harassing e-mails after Kelley told him about them. Law enforcement officials said the e-mails indicated that Broadwell was jealous of Kelley's friendship with Petraeus. His warning came about the same time he ended the affair.

In an interview on Monday, Kelley's brother said his sister, a volunteer military liaison in Tampa, Fla., who is friends with Petraeus and his wife of 38 years, Holly, had no idea that her complaint to the FBI would lead to the end of Petraeus' career.

There are still questions about the sequence of events. Over the weekend, Kelley hired Washington lawyer Abbe Lowell and Broadwell hired longtime Washington defense lawyer Robert Muse. Attempts to reach Broadwell have been unsuccessful and Muse declined to comment. Petraeus has responded to inquiries only through associates.

Congressional leaders continued Monday to demand that he be prepared to testify this week on the events surrounding the Sept. 11 attack on a U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. How quickly a CIA force responded to calls for help from the mission is among the questions that Petraeus, who has received broad Republican and Democratic support on the Hill for years, probably would face.

Several of Petraeus' aides said they were surprised -- and concerned -- by how much access the general granted Broadwell during her visits. But Mansoor, the retired colonel, and others say the affair began only after Petraeus left the military in mid-2011 to become CIA director.

"It began as a mentor-mentee relationship," Mansoor said. "At some point, it morphed into a more personal relationship. But the physical aspects of the relationship happened a couple months after he got to the agency."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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