This July 13, 2011, handout image provide by International Security Assistance Force NATO shows then-ISAF Commander Gen. David Petraeus posing with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, in Afghanistan. (ISAF via AFP)
Paula Broadwell was not just David Petraeus’ biographer and reputed girlfriend. On some occasions, she also operated as the recently resigned CIA director’s unofficial intermediary, passing messages in a way that avoided formal channels, according to a former Pentagon official.
The former official said he communicated with the general about CIA issues through Broadwell, who emailed that she was passing along questions from Petreaus.
Petraeus resigned as CIA director on Nov. 9 after admitting that he’d had an extramarital affair. Broadwell, the 40-year-old West Point graduate who wrote a flattering biography of Petraeus, was identified as the retired general’s girlfriend. The scandal has since grown. Late on Nov. 12, FBI agents collected at Broadwell’s North Carolina home, leaving with boxes.
The former official, who knows both Broadwell and Petraeus, said that in 2011, he received an email from Broadwell’s email account, asking for information for “The Boss.”
The former official said that was a reference to Petreaus. “I know who ‘The Boss’ is,” said the former official, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issues and because he is still involved in government contracting.
He said Broadwell’s email requested some analysis of certain CIA issues for “The Boss.” The issues were not classified, and he replied with the requested analysis, he said. She followed up with a subsequent email, saying that Petraeus wanted more elaboration on a point, he said.
The former official said it was his understanding that Broadwell played a similar intermediary role when communicating with at least one other person, a former government intelligence official.
The FBI reportedly started examining Broadwell’s email last spring, after launching an investigation based on complaints of cyber stalking by Tampa socialite, Jill Kelley. Various investigations are now focused on separate developments. The Pentagon inspector general is looking at Kelley’s email exchanges with Marine Corps Gen. John Allen, the commander of international forces in Afghanistan. Congress says it wants to examine how the FBI conducted its unusual investigation, and who knew about Petraeus’ affair early on. Meanwhile, the FBI probe itself continues.
Neither Petraeus nor Broadwell have spoken publicly since the scandal broke.