Why Would a Whistleblower Go to Eric Cantor?

The NYT reports that in late October, a “whistleblower” approached Eric Cantor to tell him about Petraeus’ affair.

Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, said Saturday an F.B.I. employee whom his staff described as a whistle-blower told him about Mr. Petraeus’s affair and a possible security breach in late October, which was after the investigation had begun.

“I was contacted by an F.B.I. employee concerned that sensitive, classified information may have been compromised and made certain Director Mueller was aware of these serious allegations and the potential risk to our national security,” Mr. Cantor said in a statement.

Mr. Cantor talked to the person after being told by Representative Dave Reichert, Republican of Washington, that a whistle-blower wanted to speak to someone in the Congressional leadership about a national security concern. On Oct. 31, his chief of staff, Steve Stombres, called the F.B.I. to tell them about the call.

“They took the information,” said Doug Heye, Mr. Cantor’s deputy chief of staff, “and gave the standard answer: they were not able to confirm or deny any investigation, but said that all necessary steps were being taken to make sure no confidential information was at risk.” [my emphasis]

Note Cantor describes this person as an “FBI employee,” not an agent (though he may be deliberately vague to hide the person’s identity), so it’s possible this person is more senior. The person went first to Dave Reichert, who–as a Representative from Seattle–has no ties to the FBI offices that conducted the investigation (though he’s a former Sheriff and may have ties to the FBI through law enforcement channels). And then he asked to talk to someone “in Congressional leadership,” rather than, say, the head of the House Judiciary Committee, Lamar Smith, who has jurisdiction over the FBI, or Mike Rogers, himself a former FBI Agent and the head of the House Intelligence Committee.

In other words, this instance of whistleblower was not conducted as it normally would be, through the appropriate committees, but instead went to the guy whose job is primarily political, leading the Republican caucus.

Note the timing, too. Petraeus was interviewed around October 25-26. Given that Cantor’s Chief of Staff called Mueller after that, it appears the FBI person probably contacted Cantor after that interview–or certainly after it got scheduled. One thing’s certain: the interview could not have been a CYA effort after Mueller got the call from Cantor.

But it may be what Dianne Feinstein called a “additional complication” today. And it’s possible James Clapper finally got informed of the investigation into Petraeus–he says, on November 6, election day–because Mueller knew that Cantor had heard of it. That is, by alerting Cantor, this “whistleblower” may have ensured the national security establishment couldn’t protect Petraeus.

One more note about the timing. The interview–and this alert to Cantor–happened after the time the GOP was going full October Surprise mode on Benghazi. There were tensions between CIA and FBI because CIA had not shared video fo the attack with investigators. Again, there’s no reason to believe this is Benghazi related. But there were certainly institutional tensions playing out just as the FBI interviewed the head of the CIA about his mistress’ access of his email.

Update: Apparently Andrea Mitchell says the FBI investigation would have ended had this not been brought to Cantor.

142 replies
  1. orionat says:

    let’s see now,

    – two concerned state dept officials go to politically wired republican congressman darrell lizard about benghazi “security”‘ and

    – a concerned fbi employee goes to politically wired congressman eric cantor.

    all these concerned gov’t employees offered possibly accurate but insubstantial information tailor-made to inject somw obfuscation of central issues into an election campaign.

    i’d say the republican ranks inside gov’t were doing their duty for the party.

    the question in my mind now is why cantor didn’t give this info to the romney campaign. or if he did why they did not use it to muddy the waters a bit re prez’s national security mantle.

  2. bmaz says:

    Re: The Mitchell update, what investigatory activity occurred after the interview as a result of the Cantor intervention? Any?

  3. emptywheel says:

    @orionat: Eric Nordstrom’s testimony was in no way insubstantial. His was quite important, IMO. And very credible.

    The other guy, not so much.

  4. marksb says:

    But let any indication whatsoever show up regarding a possible security leak from the White House and we’ll see House hearings and press conferences and of course the usual hours of CT programming making it’s way from Fox throughout the talk shows.

    Multiple levels of rotting fish, stinking the whole place up. I’m going for a long run, maybe the fresh Pacific air will clear out the smell.

  5. Phil Perspective says:

    Kinda funny that some supposed whistleblower would spill the beans on a 2016 GOPer contender, according to Versailles anyway, by going to Eric “Clown” Cantor. Why Cantor of all people?

  6. orionat says:


    i considered nordstrom’s testimony thoughtful, informative and important. you are quite correct on that issue,

    it was not the testimony i was concentrating on as insubstanrial, but the issues themselves.

    the events in benghazi were not of the scale or import of the two wars, of the use of drones, of the prospect of endless guerilla war in africa and asia.

    the affair of a general – later cia director – i likewise consider an insubstantial mattee unless there was a major security breech and apparently there was not.

    thus my characterization “insubstantial” of the events reported to the republican congressmen. though
    insubstantial in the larger view both sets of events could have had consequential political results in a close election.

  7. DonS says:

    @Phil Perspective:

    Cantor: ruthless, ambitious, gut fighter who can be counted on to put party before country. But a functionary.

    Now let’s try to unravel who got talked to and who arranged the scenario that involved getting talked too, and who told whom to arrange it. We are now back to the levels of anonymity and plausible deniability.

  8. FrankProbst says:

    “Update: Apparently Andrea Mitchell says the FBI investigation would have ended had this not been brought to Cantor.”

    I call bullshit. If Cantor hadn’t done anything, then the FBI would’ve just gone to someone else. They may have even gone to other people that we haven’t heard about yet. Someone was hellbent on making sure this came out. Mrs Greenspan is nuts if she thinks that the call to Cantor was critical event here.

  9. JTMinIA says:

    I can float you a theory as to why none of the Republicans who knew about this used it as part of their October Surprise: because most Americans think of Petraeus as a soldier and, when they do think of him politically, as a Republican. Even more, the Rs who knew might have worried that outing Petraeus would shift more blame for Benghazi away from Obama and onto a person that Americans see as a Republicans (when they view him as being in any way political).

  10. doug says:

    Wow – America always wakes up when there’s an “affair” to discuss. Just more distraction from what should be the real issues. We should have brought home all of our soldiers, stopped the bombing, spent our time developing alternative energies instead of killing & maiming MILLIONS of people worldwide for oil, and then Petraeus or whatever generals, congress people, etc. who wanted to have affairs of the sexual type would probably end up dealing with it on a family level – e.g. getting divorced and soaked for all the ill-gotten money he has by his wife and left to figure out what next to do with his life.

    No, no – this is great TV, book, speech stuff that keeps us all busy, instead of noticing that the killing goes on and on and on. The media makes us all armchair generals, just like it is when we second-guess the football coach during the game. It’s a “game” to them. Blowing apart babies is a “game” to them. Covering people with 3rd degree burns and filling their bodies with shrapnel is a “game” to them. And we play right along and join the “game!”

    Disgust knows no bounds.

  11. TarheelDem says:

    The risk of blackmail is sufficient to end clearances and cause dismissal of ordinary worker bees. Even without publicity. This came out because there was no way to cover it up if one was removing Petraeus from Director of CIA. And what job could you put him into that wouldn’t require clearances that could also cover the fact?

    And I think emptywheel raised a good rhetorical question about it by asking if the Congress’s wanting increased attention on leaks triggered the FBI investigation in the first place.

    As for Petraeus, this was a fuck-up that he couldn’t be reassigned to get him out of the situation.

    And Benghazi was a factor in that the whole leak dustup was about the spin put on the US response during the Benghazi attack.

  12. emptywheel says:

    @bmaz: I don’t think so–because it appears the alert to Cantor came after the interview w/Petraeus, which would have been the end of it.

    Though you do have to ask why it took them 8 months to interview Petraeus.

  13. bmaz says:

    @emptywheel: Exactly. The way they ran it, it appears the sit down with Patraeus was the last investigative act and, with that, the Bureau had, at least informally, even if the file not officially closed yet (there is a process of course), had effectively closed it.

    The investigation WAS over, what occurred thereafter is somebody did not, shall we say, appreciate the disposition.

  14. DonS says:

    Here’s a place I check in on very occasionally when it seems things are fucked up beyond description: “Moon of Alabama” http://www.moonofalabama.org/2012/11/petraeus-fall-late-but-welcome-justice.html , first a mirror site, then successor to Bilmon’s “Whiskey Bar”, for those who remember those heady days.

    It’s a nice informed rant about bad old Betraeus, with an interesting link (through Thomas Ricks blog) to wonder girl Paula as she was slashing and lashing her way through Afghanistan in the period before her book was published

    Not too OT I hope.

  15. PollyUSA says:


    “the question in my mind now is why cantor didn’t give this info to the romney campaign. or if he did why they did not use it to muddy the waters a bit re prez’s national security mantle. ”

    Maybe they did

    ” Woodward says that people “close to Romney” just — poof! — “showed up” at his house a couple of weeks ago and “said they had somebody in a very sensitive position in the U.S. government who’s willing to meet with me and get me information about Benghazi.”

    What happened, Woodward? “Appointments were broken, the guy didn’t show up, he finally showed up, and he didn’t have anything where he had any firsthand knowledge, he said you ought to talk to this person and that person and so forth, so people are digging into it.” ”

  16. what constitution says:

    Is the Obama administration going to prosecute the whistleblower? Looks like intentional harm to US security interests to pass on personal information about a ranking administration official to hinder the performance of that official’s duties…. Obama’s construction of whistleblower prosecutions in such a manner would facilitate a “thank you, Mr. Clinton” prosecution of Linda Tripp, would it not?

  17. marksb says:

    (caution: run-on sentence ahead)
    Meanwhile I went to the gym this morning and my treadmill was already tuned to Fox, where the “personalities” were frothing with anger that Petraeus was forced to resign to keep him from testifying on Benghazi but Obama secretly kept the Petraeus “affair” out of the media until after the election even though Petraeus is a hero and a patriot and it’s clear that Ms. Broadwell (paging Ian Fleming!) set up Petraeus to deep six such a strong patriot and now we’ll *really* get to the bottom of the Benghazi crime only we can’t because Obama used Broadwell and the FBI to shame this patriot who bonked his much-younger biographer and then sent thousands (!) of emails trying to get her back including the one about sex under the desk and maybe let her have access to secret information and someone told Eric Cantor two weeks ago so why would he wait until after the election to reveal this HE COULD HAVE CALLED US?!?!?!

  18. marksb says:

    @bmaz: So are you suggesting that maybe Petraeus was being whitewashed and someone didn’t like the dereliction of duty this represented, or the investigation was finished and would now go through channels for resolution but someone wanted to bring this to public knowledge for political purposes, or…some combination?

  19. PollyUSA says:



    I have a question regarding your sourcing.

    You stated ““though he did keep emailing Broadwell to try to get her to get back together.””

    The only source I have seen for this is from the Daily Mail article, which is sourced to Newsmax. Is this your source for your statement? Are there any other articles that you are aware of with this reporting?


  20. P J Evans says:

    Twistier and twistier. Sounds like revenge (for whatever reason) is involved, and political motives as well.

    Although Cantor sure wouldn’t be someone I’d choose to go to; he’s likely to use it against his informant, IMO.

  21. bmaz says:

    @marksb: Dunno. It strikes me the formal investigation was concluded even if the file maybe not yet closed. It also seems clear the conclusion was there was no conduct warranting criminal prosecution or civil enforcement action by the FBI/DOJ. Less clear (at least that I can recall) is what was intended to be done with the work product vis a vis the CIA-IG. I don’t know that I would call it a whitewash; then again, maybe it was. Dunno.

    All I am saying is that the Bureau appears as if it was done. If somebody from the Bureau went to Reichart and then Cantor, then you have to ask yourself why? Either they did not agree with the results, conclusions and perceived disposition, or somebody put them up to it. Or both.

  22. Garrett says:


    In that Travels with Paula story, note all the talk about land.

    “We’ve had all the people vetted by the District Governor to verify that they are the true landowners.” Second, land valuation is another challenge across the theater.

    So we destroyed the village in order to save it.

    And I’d strongly suspect that if it were looked into, we’d see yet another instance of the widespread land stealing plot by American-supported Afghan government officials.

  23. greengiant says:

    Speaking of distractions, one wag on ABC said Petraeus better not have lied to federal officers during his vetting interviews.
    The fiscal cliff back room deal gets closer and closer with the airwaves full of lobbyist chaff about following Simpson-Bowles. I am confused as to where my attention should be misdirected.

  24. marksb says:

    @bmaz: Could be separate situational responses:
    -Case closed, no prosecution recommended. Now the investigation goes back to the Agency, who will look at it in regard to their *rules* of propriety, such as compromised security and questionable behavioral judgement.
    -Same thing, and someone thinks this is a potentially useful thing politically, so throw it over to Cantor and see if they want to do anything with it.
    Unrelated as far as goal is concerned.

  25. bmaz says:

    @marksb: And then there is this that just dropped:

    A senior U.S. military official says the author who had an affair with David Petraeus sent harassing emails to a woman who was the State Department’s liaison to the military’s Joint Special Operations Command.

    The official says 37-year-old Jill Kelley in Tampa, Fla., received the emails from Petraeus biographer Paula Broadwell that triggered an FBI investigation.

    I don’t know about other folks, but that just opens up more questions than it answers for me. The one thing seems to be is the underlying facts are tawdry, but seems as if there was nothing really that caused a national security problem, just concerns that were properly investigated.

    BUT then……what? Who decided to shiv Petraeus and why?

  26. bmaz says:

    @P J Evans: No clue, but I would put that on the “less likely” end of the spectrum. Except, well, there is a question raised by the fact the “whistleblower” went to Reichart to Cantor. Is that because the “whistleblower” is right wing, or was feeding it through the political right was part of the play to make it appear that way? Or was it all really just a fluke thing (not sure I am ready to buy that yet).

  27. Teddy says:

    @bmaz: Would you call the FBI if you got harassing emails from a romantic rival? Or, perhaps, would you call the FBI if you got harassing emails from a romantic rival that seemed to come from the email account or government-issued laptop of the object of your joint affection who held a sensitive intelligence position in the US government?

    I can’t see a woman calling the FBI about harassing emails unless they were emailed from Dave’s laptop.

  28. orionat says:

    the intersection of sex and politics seems to me almost always trivial – absent a soviet femme fatale. but there aren’t any of those left, so maybe chinese, israeli, n. korean. broadwell doesn’t seem to fit those categories.

    it’s not as damaging to society as the intersection of religion and politics usually is, but it sure can shame and harm individuals who have caused no special harm to society.

  29. FrankProbst says:

    @bmaz I would imagine the affair became pretty obvious within about 10 minutes of looking at the e-mails. The “investigation” that followed likely consisted of a bunch of foot-dragging, followed by a face-to-face with Petraeus in which he acknowledged the affair and was assured it would be hushed up, because it’s always good to have the head of the CIA owing you one hell of a favor.

    As to who the whistleblower was, and why they blew the whistle, my guess is pretty mundane: I’d go with the poor FBI agent who had to read through all of Petraeus’ sex-under-the-desk e-mails. Because if it were me, I’d be pretty pissed to have spent several hours/days/weeks reading sub-“Fifty Shades of Gray” porn and then be told that the whole thing was going to be hushed up.

  30. bmaz says:

    @Teddy: I think is fair and a great question. To be honest, NOBODY calls the FBI, it is a local police thing and then, if the other party is deemed a danger, there may be a call to the FBI.

    I will say, this Kelley sounds like a pretty wired in girl though, and if she approached a supervisor, I can see the supervisor saying we will report to the Feds.

    I dunno.

  31. jerryy says:

    Does it seem strange that the head of our spook group would think that it is safe to use an unencrypted private email account to discuss his affair and try to lure the woman back? Certainly he knows the NSA monitors such things, and that ‘honey traps’ are quite effective.

  32. marksb says:

    Tawdry details of sex under the desk aside, seems to me this thing hinges on simple behavioral issues for someone in charge of the spook shop.
    One does not use email, even if private gmail accounts, to send pleas and juicy sex remembrances if one is In Charge of The Shop. Bad form.
    One does not get involved with situations that may compromise high security-level information access.
    And one’s ex-lover should not be using questionable access to harass senior State Department officials.
    If the liaison officer from State gets harassing emails from someone who is (1) not involved with CIA or Military Intel or any other official capacity, (2) seems to have information she shouldn’t, (3) is displaying strange behavior regarding the CIA Director, then her only choice is to report it. She may or may not be involved with Petreaus, of maybe she stumbled on something she thought was weird and it threatened Broadwill.

    I would imagine that after a meeting with State officials they would error on the side of caution: give it to the not-involved FBI and let them sort it out. If there’s nothing there, great, no one hears about it. If there’s something compromising, well we better get to the bottom of it.
    Policy and procedure regarding the highest levels of security clearances: always error on the side of caution.

  33. Teddy says:

    @eCAHNomics: Totally inappropriate garb for a USMC graduate and serious biographer to wear, in my view. Even on The Daily Show, you don’t see starlets dressed “with the boobs out.”

  34. eCAHNomics says:

    @Teddy: There’s so much that is funny, ironic, bad taste, double entendre, and a host of other stuff. I wish I were a psychologist so that I could put a name to what that poor woman suffers from. Or maybe all female West Point grads are like her. I’ve not met one. I did once meet a female who taught there and she seemed normal.

  35. DonS says:

    @eCAHNomics: @eCAHNomics:

    Being one of them psychologists it’s fair to say that diagnosing, or describing, from a distance is verboten. But, as I opined on a previous comment ‘starry eyed girl on the make’ which, you will notice has a number of possibly contradictory aspects. Still, I wouldn’t mind getting 25 minutes or so to screen her.

  36. matt carmody says:

    @Teddy: Teddy, do not dirty the name of the USMC by including Ms. Brownwell among our numbers.
    She graduated from the U S Military Academy at West Point, making her an Army puke.

  37. matt carmody says:

    @DonS: Change starry-eyed girl to starry-eyed guy and you get David Petraeus (or Judy Miller writing about Petraeus when he was in Iraq). And yes, that is guy referring to Judy.

  38. eCAHNomics says:

    @DonS: Pshaw on your diagnosis at a distance. Wadda about Bush on the Couch. The Broad is much sicker than your characterization would suggest.

    My leading hypothesis is that the Broad was recruited [with or without her knowledge; she could just be a dupe] to bring Pet. down by one of Pet’s enemies. Sexcapades of high profiles are unspoken, say 99% of the time. So there’s a reason this came out, and maybe even for its timing. I have no evidence for my hypothesis however.

  39. DonS says:


    For the record, I loved going into chapter and verse on boy Bush’s character. But then we had so much more information and history on that sick puppy. And . . . my specialty is addiction which colors most everything else. Even most recovering addicts, I would venture, agree that he likely never could have handled the stress, and that’s before you even get to his myriad character flaws.

  40. eCAHNomics says:

    @DonS: Fair enough on W. But her Daily Show appearance is ‘revealing.’ How about exhibitionist, narcissist, hypercompetitive? Pet’s prolly got similar characteristics.

  41. eCAHNomics says:

    @P J Evans: Haven’t a clue. As I said, hyp with no evidence yet.

    I find it useful to have a null hyp as a framework for slotting incoming info. That makes it easier to reject the hyp if enough evidence accumulates in that direction.

  42. joanneleon says:

    @bmaz: That is an interesting point:
    “The investigation WAS over, what occurred thereafter is somebody did not, shall we say, appreciate the disposition.”

    The other thing that I found baffling is that Cantor essentially just took the issue back to the boss of the whistleblower, to Mueller. Are we supposed to think that Mueller didn’t know about this investigation already? If somebody in the FBI is in the process of an investigation and all of a sudden they have the director of the CIA in their web, they are not going to go right to the top and alert Mueller?

    So essentially by going to Cantor it just sent the investigation in a circle, I would think. Unless they told other people in addition to Cantor and kind of blew it wide open. Maybe the fact that Cantor’s staff now knew meant it had gotten loose, I don’t know.

  43. bmaz says:

    @joanneleon: FWIW, the story appears to be that Cantor and his office did not particularly believe the “whistleblower”. I am still curious why no one went to the CIA-IG.

  44. DonS says:


    Yeah, likely. But there is a whole spectrum from having “traits” to a full blown personality disorder. And on and on to other disorders of course. Lots of us have traits, but even with diagnosable personality disorder it has to be severe enough to cause “distress or impairment”. And then you’ve got the unofficial qualifiers like “high functioning”, which can compensate for a lot of possible impairment. We can say for sure she is VERY high functioning. That’s it. I still need to screen her in person.

  45. joanneleon says:

    Tanks and sleeveless blouses and dresses are all the rage in the Beltway bubble and among female TV media personalities, even when it’s freezing cold outside. I don’t watch TV that much so I’ve noticed the sudden change during the last few years. Each time I turn on the TV, there are more sleeveless women. Belts and big necklaces are all the rage too.

    There are other situations where that kind of thing is really popular too but I don’t feel comfortable talking about it but if you have little kids and spend time on soccer fields in affluent neighborhoods, you see this kind of thing a lot too. One year, Johnny’s mom dresses pretty normally and the next year she’s got the plunging neckline after she decided to have some enhancements done. She’s proud of it, and all that.

  46. Peterr says:

    @bmaz: I disagree.

    Kelley was a State liaison to JSOC, and Broadwell was a reserve officer and official biographer of Petraeus, with lots of military access and connections. Without knowing anything about Kelley’s specific duties, it seems likely to me that if she’s feeling harassed by Broadwell, she’s probably going to feel pretty stuck.

    First, who’s the “local police” to whom she would have gone, under your scenario? If you mean the local town constables, they aren’t going to touch it. They’d take one look at this and say “Go through channels with the DOD.” But if she goes to the base command structure, she’s going to inevitably run into someone who is a fan/supporter of Petraeus, which is the last thing she wants. She’s *got* to get outside that system, if she wants anything to happen. Given that the FBI has jurisdiction over federal installations (negotiated with the DOD in a MOU), they offer Kelley a path for a civilian investigation, rather than military. Given who she’s dealing with (Broadwell) and the object of the disagreement (Petraeus), I completely understand calling the FBI rather than the local Barney Fife or Joe Arpaio.

    Second, the State v DOD angle is critical here as well, which your comment about her supervisor alludes to. There are soooooo many ways in which this mess could have made her job very, very difficult if a Petraeus supporter got wind of her complaint through DOD investigatory channels.

    Once you get past the heavy duty titles that the players in this story have and all the acronyms (JSOC, TS/SCI, etc.), it’s a lot like small town sexual politics. The head of the school board and icon-about-town is having an affair with a reporter with the local paper, and the reporter gets fearful that the cute new teacher is somehow a rival for the illicit affections of the board chair, so she starts to make threatening noises to force the teacher to back off. Oh, and the board chair is best buds with half the police force . . .

  47. marksb says:

    @joanneleon: Yeah but if a whistleblower came to Cantor with that info, Cantor might want do something about it beyond what’s good for his side, like let the head of the FBI know that someone in his department is singing out of church.

    I know that implies responsible, ethical thought, but what the heck.

  48. Peterr says:

    I’m also intrigued that Reichert goes to Cantor, rather than Boehner. If your source wants/demands to talk to a member of the leadership, why not go to the Speaker?

    There’s little love lost between Boehner and Cantor — I recall Cantor being the one who torpedoed the potential Grand Bargain last year between Obama and Boehner — and some wags are speculating that Cantor may make a bid for Boehner’s speakership.

    Both Boehner and Cantor have been backers of Reichert — $45K in contributions from Cantor’s leadership PAC have gone to Reichert’s campaigns over the last ten years, as have $48.5K from Boehner. Going to Cantor rather than Boehner could have been something as simple as accessibility — “I know Eric better and can get him to take the call much more easily” — but it could also play into some of the intra-caucus squabbles.

  49. joanneleon says:

    @Peterr: A lot of small details have come out over the past couple days but I do remember one story from yesterday saying that the harassing emails were anonymous. It sounded as if Broadwell did not identify herself to Kelley. Has that detail changed today? Was Kelley aware of who was emailing her?

    One other thing I noticed when I looked at the last, maybe 10 or 15 tweets from Broadwell’s account was that in one of them she was defending Petraeus. Here is the one I was thinking of:

    Maybe she saw herself as a defender of his in social media and elsewhere.

  50. bmaz says:

    @Peterr: Bullshit. Kelley was a rank civilian, not even close to being employed by State, it turns out. She was like a volunteer who helped out at the base for social functions and was once called a “social ambassador” and she liked to pump herself up by dropping the “social” from the description. In short, she was not shit as to being any kind of government employee of any kind, much less with State department. And, for that matter, unless actively serving, which she was not at any relevant time, Broadwell also was a pure civilian.

    Absent a cognizable death or serious physical harm threat (and there were supposedly none of those), there is not a chance in hell the FBI opens up an investigation on that two bit common shit – even if a lawyer like me took it to them. They would refer the complainant to local authorities. The “threat” to the extent there even was one, was received locally where Kelley was. Such things are almost always local issues unless and until the local law enforcement feel the need to involve the Feds and then they do it.

  51. Peterr says:

    @bmaz: I’ve seen various descriptions of Kelley’s position, from the LA Times’ ” the State Department’s liaison to the military’s Joint Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla.” to ABC’s “a local concerned citizen who volunteers to help the military.”

    But leaving that aside, you ducked my question about who are the local authorities. She’s active on the base, and the alleged harassment is due to those activities. The Tampa PD is severely limited in terms of what they can and can’t do on military facilities, while the FBI is not.

  52. bmaz says:

    @Peterr: She IS NOT “active on the base” in any meaningful sense. She is nothing more than a civilian who basically is a good cheer girl. And the local authorities would be the Tampa PD. She is not on a military base, she is a wanna be dilettante who lives in a society suburb. And if you think the fucking FBI commonly opens criminal investigations on that bunk, you are nuts.

  53. P J Evans says:

    Just following eCAHN'[s lead.
    Personally – no, I don’t go there. It really doesn’t make sense, ant more than the conservative CT that he’s been pushed out to prevent him testifying on Benghazi.

  54. Rayne says:

    WRT Kelley, I’d really like to know what the hell an “unpaid social liaison” is. Unpaid? Why? and why such a formal relationship for a volunteer position?

    Two facets that may have merited FBI involvement:

    — Did the Gmail account look like D-Pat’s? did the sender spoof D-Pat’s identity? That’s not local beat cop stuff.

    — Did the fact that MacDill is the locale have more to do with this situation, specifically the location of Spec Ops? did our Fatal Attraction Broadwell threaten to engage certain services to kill Kelley’s rabbit? Again, not beat cop stuff.

    I also wonder if this stuff happened across state lines, making it difficult for local non-military jurisdiction.

  55. Frank33 says:

    I really cannot keep up with this excitement. And I am impressed that all these military people want us to respect their privacy. The Other Woman and The General are just good friends. So just stop it, stop it with the double, triple and quadruple entendres.

    Kelley is acknowledging her friendship with the former CIA director and asking for privacy.

    Kelley says she and her family “have been friends with General Petraeus and his family for over five years.”

    She says she respects Petraeus’ privacy and wants the same for her own family.

    That Petraeus is a chick magnet.

  56. bmaz says:

    @Rayne: Sounds like a glorified “little sister” role for a fraternity.

    As to point one: Unclear, but – I think – best read so far is that there was info from Petraeus’ email account, but not that the missives were sent from it, or spoofing that. But, that is still nebulous

    Point two and three: Irrespective of the mission there, hard for me to see a base hanger on as being given that much credence, at least on the initial approach. Across state lines? Yeah, that happens all the time, and has for many, many moons now. The FBI does not even take an initial field report by my experience with them, even when the client is being threatened by an out of state spouse. Told to report locally and have them liaise if necessary.

  57. joanneleon says:

    Just read the article that bmaz linked. This is really odd. What is an “unpaid social liaison”? And “honorary ambassador” at CentCom and JSOC headquarters? She says she attended many dinners/events Petraeus and his wife held. Military socials, I guess. I didn’t know that people from coalition countries were located at the CentCom/JSOC base either. Maybe they visit there and that’s when the dinners/events are held. The article also says that there was no romantic involvement between the two, that the two families had been friends for years. Makes you wonder why the mistress would be sending her emails too.

    And as others have questioned above, why did any of these personal issues get handled by the FBI if they didn’t initially know that Petraeus was involved (and only discovered it later after going through the Broadwell emails), if this woman had no official govt. job, if Broadwell had been sending the emails anonymously, and if this was all personal stuff. This thing just gets weirder and weirder.

    A senior U.S. military official identified the second woman as Jill Kelley, 37, who lives in Tampa, Fla., and serves as an unpaid social liaison to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, where the military’s Central Command and Special Operations Command are located.
    A U.S. official said the coalition countries represented at Central Command gave Kelley an appreciation certificate on which she was referred to as an “honorary ambassador” to the coalition, but she has no official status and is not employed by the U.S. government.

    The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the case publicly, said Kelley is known to drop the “honorary” part and refer to herself as an ambassador.


  58. joanneleon says:

    @marksb: yes, now that you say it, maybe Cantor was just letting the FBI know that they had a whistleblower.

    Because if the whistleblower wanted this to be addressed within the FBI, they could have gone to their bosses themselves! Clearly they wanted it addressed outside of the FBI. Anyway, I suspect that this whole thing with the whistleblower going to the Republican Congressmembers… well it just seems really odd. Like a curveball.

  59. Frank33 says:

    There are pictures of Jill Kelley, who I should have called The Other Other Woman. But she is not a mistress of Petraeus. She and her husband are mere “fixtures”.

    Sources said Mrs Kelley and her husband were fixtures at social gatherings at Central Command.

    And there are pictures of Jill and the family. And there is a picture of Scott and Jill and Holly together.


    Mrs Kelley’s anonymous friend has clarified the relationship. It is close, but no dirty dancing, or drunken trips to Paris.

    A friend of Mrs Kelley told ABC News that she and Petraeus were close, but that the relationship never went any farther than friendship.

  60. joanneleon says:

    @bmaz: bmaz, any chance the local authorities did handle it first, looked at the emails Kelley gave them, subpoenaed the ISP, got the other emails, saw it was Petraeus involved and said yikes and bumped it up to the Feds? Also, if Kelley lives on a military base, who are her local authorities? Note: I am assuming she lives on a base. She might not.

    And they do have those fusion centers now, right? A local detective told me a few years ago that the feds do share a lot more info with them now (since 9/11) then they ever did before. He didn’t give me any specifics though.

  61. Teddy says:

    @Peterr: Early info on Kelley’s employment seems to be incorrect. She was an ‘honorary ambassador’ who dropped the ‘honorary’ occasionally, apparently. Thought by some to be an official liaison from Foggy Bottom, but actually not. Just a lady who helped out Mrs Petraeus with her CFPB duties, or something.

    But not employed anywhere, it seems. Odd.

    “A senior U.S. military official identified the second woman as Jill Kelley, 37, who lives in Tampa, Fla., and serves as an unpaid social liaison to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, where the military’s Central Command and Special Operations Command are located.

    “Staffers for Petraeus said Kelley and her husband were regular guests at events he held at Central Command headquarters.”

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/news/politics/article/Congress-wants-answers-on-Petraeus-affair-4027275.php#ixzz2By9gRJvi

  62. bmaz says:

    @joanneleon: Kelley, does NOT live on the military base, she lives on a $1.3 million estate in Tampa with her, also civilian, husband. And, no, nothing I have seen indicates this was initially passed through by local law enforcement. And, there is not a chance in hell that the FBI would not have used that out as why they were involved if they could have.

  63. Teddy says:

    @bmaz: I would imagine Kelley also has FBI contacts to whom she said “Oh, whatever should I do? I’m getting these terrible anonymous emails!” And perhaps the heroic agent took them in to work to look up whose IP address they came from — and ooops! The CIA Director.

    Now what does he do?

  64. emptywheel says:

    @PollyUSA: I believe there is another source, bc I’ve read neither and believe I’ve read that.

    Though it doesn’t make sense if they just split 4 months ago and she was threatening other women.

  65. bmaz says:

    @emptywheel: I have read so much stuff on this in last two days I am punch drunk. But I too have read that and still have not read the Daily Mail article, although I’ve had it on a tab to do so for a while now. I think – emphasize think – I may have seen that on one of the WSJ reports.

  66. Frank33 says:

    We have another player in this National Security Sex Scandal Soap Opera. Jill’s twin sister, Natalie Khawam is a Tampa Bay attorney. And Natalie is well known for litigiousness. She is suing her former attorney boss for sexual harrassment, and other things. But it is weird because Natalie is dodging dispositions in her own lawsuit.

    Cohen has delved into Khawam’s past: He’s uncovered court documents from a bankruptcy. He also unearthed a searing, 19-page child custody order from a Washington, D.C., superior court judge calling her out in 2011 for a lengthy “history of abusing the litigation process” and a “willingness to say anything, even under oath, to advance her own personal interests.”

    In court documents, Cohen also claims that Khawam “fraudulently omitted Rolex watches, sable mink furs and a diamond ring” from a list of her assets in an April bankruptcy.


  67. orionat says:


    your comment triggered a thought or two:

    mrs. kelly has been described, perhaps inaccurately, as

    – state dept liason to jsoc

    – local concerned citizen

    – close friend,with hubby?, of general davy

    when a person has this much access and this little specificity about why she has that access,

    that does raise my curiosity.

    isn’t tampa the home of “southern command”, which has had responsibility (sort of) for iraq and afghanistan wars, which would incorprate ( :) ) petraeus for a number of years?

    and jsoc?

    and mcchrystal?

    for some period of time?

    and might not a mistress (p.b.) of general davy’s have learned a thing or two about base politics?

  68. Teddy says:

    @bmaz: She just seems, as an ‘honorary/social ambassador’ to be the kind of person who would know lots of people, any one of whom might be able to ‘help’ her out in a jam. I’m trying to see how the Feebs got involved. What’s your theory?

  69. ryanwc says:

    @bmaz: Someone else may address this somewhere.

    But how does a harassing email from a journalist become an issue for the FBI, even if the recipient is a State Dep’t liaison? What did Broadwell write? Even “stay the fuck away from my man or I’ll kill you!” seems a local police case.

  70. bmaz says:

    @Teddy: I dunno, I am hanging on that. Not enough facts. But I do know this, the FBI does not even field report, much less open a formal investigation, on common email threats and this looks – looks – like that was the initial report before the Patraeus bit was found out in the subsequent formal investigation (again, we may not have anything close to the real story at this point). Probably there is an explanation, but I would like to see it…..

  71. Teddy says:

    @Snoopdido: Jill Kelley seems to me (as if I know anything at all about her) to be the kind of person who cultivates a wide range of people for their potential usefulness in the future.

  72. bmaz says:

    @Teddy: @Snoopdido: Yeah, that may be a sage observation. That is a hell of a “friend at the FBI” who will take a run of the mill, non-life or limb threatening, crank few anonymous emails and not only field report it, but initiate a formal preliminary review. These are formal steps of record with the bureau, it is not just saying “sure, I’ll take a look at it for you my friend”.

    And, then, when he isn’t satisfied enough has been done (as the referring special agent, he would know there had been a preliminary review that had been moved into a formal investigation) he was willing, for his friend Kelley, to go around the whole freaking Bureau, both local and FBI/DOJ Main, to go seek action as a “whistleblower” (I still am not sure about that either, I am not sure that conduct falls within the FBI whistleblower purview) to a Congressman.

    That is one determined, and career careless, friend. Wow. This FBI friend must have been as dedicated to Kelley as Broadwell was to Patraeus.

  73. greengiant says:

    @bmaz: Bmaz, you should know better than I, but a common problem is that crimes committed on a military base are subject to federal prosecution. As in a dependent with drugs. I understand the Feds also get involved on the reservations.

  74. orionat says:

    this matter screams revenge

    or political trash disposal.

    the explanation may turn out to be just bad karma, things like this often are,

    but if revenge (and not just by women) or a scorned woman aren’t central to this minidrama, i’ll eat – oh, never mind.

  75. Garrett says:


    Looking at the low-level insider access team that brought down the very high-level insider access team of CIA Director and his journalist paramour.

    Well no wonder the Federal Reserve Chairman’s wife had a tear in her eye when she initially told us about it on TV.

  76. Kim says:

    @P J Evans: Probably part of his deal, resign and we get you out of the congressional testimony (and I think that testimony would have been damaging to himself not to Obama (or else damaging via lying to Congress.)

  77. Frank33 says:

    Benghazi, Benghazi Benghazi, as Killer Joe would say, with his fingers in his ears. The Daily Beast links Benghazi with Paula. Oh so sweet. Paula says,

    Speaking on Oct. 26 at the University of Denver, Paula Broadwell—the married author of the highly favorable biography of Petraeus All In—was asked about the 9/11 anniversary attack.

    “Now I don’t know if a lot of you heard this,” she replied, “but the CIA annex had actually—had taken a couple of Libyan militia members prisoner and they think that the attack on the consulate was an effort to try to get these prisoners back. So that’s still being vetted.”…

    This is so silly for Paula to say this. The CIA does not detain people.


  78. FrankProbst says:

    @bmaz I think the content of the e-mails–which I expect to be leaked soon–will tell us a lot. I think Petraeus is going to look REALLY pathetic, and I think Broadwell is going to look batshit crazy. I still have no idea what prompted Broadwell to e-mail Kelley in the first place, nor do I have a good feel for how threatening the e-mails really were. I’m guessing that Broadwell concluded (correctly, I’d guess) that Kelley was (also) having an affair with Petraeus. And I’m guessing that Kelley called a friend in the FBI (at this point, I’m just going to go ahead and assume that she was sleeping with him, too) to figure out what to do about the e-mails. Someone as high-ranking as “Ambassador” Kelley isn’t going to go to the local PD.

  79. FrankProbst says:

    @Kim I can’t see any way for him to dodge a subpoena. The Republicans have the House. They can subpoena anyone they want to, can’t they? It’s not like he can claim that he’s too busy with his job to come and testify.

  80. ryanwc says:

    This may be the first situation in which federal whistleblower protection is being invoked, where the primary underlying question is whose whistle was being blown.

    Another surprise is that while Rachel Maddow would’ve loved to take credit for Petraeus’ scalp, instead that honor falls to a Maddow lookalike.

    Weird tidbit of the scandal – both of the women involved are married to surgeons named Scott. If I were a surgeon named Scott in a southern military town right now, I think I’d have the FBI looking into my wife’s emails.

    I’m trying to wrap my head around Broadwell breaking off the affair and rebuffing Petraeus’ continued entreaties, but still being so wrapped up in it that she’s harassing another woman about him. I believe it. I’m just trying to wrap my head around a bit of raw human emotional behavior.

    And here’s an odd anecdote about Petraeus from the Post:
    >He recently showed up to speak at a dinner in Washington wearing a row of military medals on the lapel of his suit jacket. The brass prompted a few double takes from a crowd in which only uniformed military men had donned their medals.

    The Post’s ‘Petraeus let his guard down’ piece is more damning. Sounds like she crossed a lot of lines in Afghanistan, and he refused to notice. That in itself should have been disqualifying for a potential DCI, forget the affair. He may be lucky it happened the way it did, and not with her actually sharing classified information.

    The timing stinks, but I’m unable to fathom the motive on either side. This doesn’t preempt Petraeus from talking about Benghazi. If the White House wanted him out for other reasons, this wouldn’t have been their timeline. But I’m not really seeing Cantor’s interest in having this happen right now either. I suspect Marcey’s original irony is closest to the mark. Cantor stumbled in just when Mueller was going to burn the file, but Cantor’s involvement made that impossible, leading to the ouster of someone Cantor had no interest nor intention of skewering.

  81. Sparkles the Iguana says:

    Peaches just called me and wants to go on a 5-mile run! He said he just wants to mentor me, so I’m going, except I don’t have any tops that expose my entire clavicle. Will he still want to mentor me?

  82. Sparkles the Iguana says:

    Now that Peaches’ security clearance has been revoked, what does he do with all the classified information inside his head? Does it mean he can’t testify to things he knows which are classified?

  83. bmaz says:

    @Kim: Um, you think the FBI formally investigates every pissant crank threatening email case that comes along? I can assure you, they do not, even if it is interstate.

  84. scribe says:

    The first question is why the FBI “whistleblower” went to Reichert. Remember, Reichert made his bones as a sheriff and consequently as a congresscritter by pursuing the so-called Green River Killer back in WA. That was a long-term serial killer hunt which had significant FBI involvement. So (A) he could have had any number of contacts from law enforcement days who knew him well and considered him the kind of guy one could go to on the QT and (B) he’s probably well-known within the federal law enforcement community because of his own law enforcement background and considered as a supporter of law enforcement.

    That seems the easiest and most logical reason someone from FBI (we believe) went to Reichert first.

    Why did Reichert go to Cantor? Maybe internal caucus tensions. Maybe Cantor’s office was a shorter walk for Reichert. Maybe Boner was out of contact or out of town – not the kind of thing one wants to talk about on the phone, esp. when pre-prison Abramoff helped get some furrin company the gig for phone service on Capitol Hill and the same or similar could still be going on. Who knows why Reichert chose Cantor. He did. That’s all.

    As to the paramouric biographer and her character, let me say a couple things. First, people going on The Daily Show dress more conventionally than some bare shoulder thing. Second, she got some crazy eyes. Maybe a half-Bachmann there.

    Yes, she’s a grad of USMA. When I served, I had pretty regular encounters with some of the first women grads, who were also lieutenants at the time, and a lot of the officers in my (all-male) unit were also products of Hudson High. All of them, male and female, were good officers in the sense that they knew their jobs and how to be officers and fit into the mould of doing their jobs and being officers with few or no rough edges. As to their other personality traits, particularly matters of the heart, they were as widely varied as the rest of the population. All over the block. In the same vein, I’ve known (and so have you, too, dear reader) women (and men) who are absolutely brilliant Double Ivy Top Honors yadda-yadda doctors and lawyers who were absolutely idiotic (or whatever) in their romantic choices. So, I think one could call the USMA connection as pretty much irrelevant to her performance as a military officer. Where it gets interesting is when she steps out of the uni and into civilian world and work. The former strictures of rank and structure are now gone. Indeed, she’s now working side-by-side with, riding in the plane and having small talk with, and telling the story of The Great General. This is something a mere captain would never have the chance to do nor ever think of trying. And, moreover, the strictures of military life and rank structure no longer apply. Big transgressions and it’s not hard to see how it would come to sex under the desk. The wonder is not that she gave it up but rather that it took her so long to get there.

    But, if you ask me, this has institutional revenge – FBI vs. CIA – written all over it. And I would not be surprised if the FBI “whistleblower” were Mueller himself. His agency has been shat upon by CIA the entire time he’s been in office, and this is his chance for more than a little give-back. My $0.02.

  85. bmaz says:

    @scribe: The “FBI Whistleblower” is, by all appearances, the same local Tampa “FBI friend” of Kelley’s that started the whole thing. So, yeah, I still wonder how he plucked a Congressman from Washington (even if he had once been a county sheriff). Maybe they are old friends or something, who knows, but is a valid question. And, why not go to the House Intel leader somewhere in that chain before Cantor just rings up the FBI?

  86. It'sthedrugs says:

    Paula Broadwell (MA ’06)
    A distinguished graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point,
    Paula has lived, worked, or traveled in over 60 countries – in Asia, Europe, Africa, and
    the Middle East – during more than fifteen years of military service and work in
    geopolitical analysis and counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations. During
    that time, she had assignments with the U.S. intelligence community, U.S. Special
    Operations Command and an FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force.
    After graduating with honors from West Point and serving on active duty, Paula
    earned an MA degree and certificate from the University of Denver Josef Korbel
    School of International Studies, an MPA degree from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy
    School of Government, and studied at the University of Amman in Jordan. While attending Harvard, she also
    served as the Deputy Director of the Tufts University Fletcher School’s Jebsen Center for Counter-Terrorism.
    Paula is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London and a research
    associate at Harvard University’s Center for Public Leadership. She is also an instructor at the U.S. Academy for
    her Army reserve duty, teaching “emerging security issues” courses on failing states, state building,
    development, and international law, inter alia. Paula has served on several executive boards focused on
    wounded warrior, veterans’ issues, women’s leadership, international security, public-private partnerships in
    national security, and weapons manufacturing and distribution.


  87. klynn says:


    Thanks for that link. This is news (Petraeus needing to be neutralized) that has been an issue of discussion in the past.

    Interesting potential ripple; especially, with Cantor in the picture.

    Now to go remove the pineapples in my house. I cannot look at them without thinking that they now give a whole new meaning to being the “symbol of hospitality.”

    Interesting vita sheet. Wondering what Valerie Plame would think of her background –especially the last sentence in her bio.

  88. DonS says:


    Justin Raimondo/Antiwar.com? It’s been around for quite a while and seems pretty transparent given that it has an agenda. Iconoclastic and definitely marginalized by the establishment. Lot’s of factual reporting but the main writers follow a continuing editorial thread. I’d say it’s a pretty consistent POV.

    Anyway, reading the Broadwell bio posted just above, reinforces that she was up to her ears in intel and moved around quite a bit. So one cannot dismiss the notion that she herself may have been covert at some level. And Betraeus absolutely got under Bibi’s skin by being a bit candid about the mess that is created by the US being tied (subservient?) to Israeli actions; although Betreaus tried to walk back his faux pas. Ergo Cantor would/could be easily imagined as a black ops player , with Reichert simply being the conduit/trap door if the “whistleblower”/Reichert-Cantor involvement went South. [one asks again, as several have, “Why Cantor?” — someone is going to have to answer that question convincingly]

    Ok, that’s one line of speculation. Now bring in the whole confusing Kelley angle — supposedly a very good friend of Betraeus. If she (and others???) were getting harassed by Broadwell lots of questions arise about her supposed action, i.e., engaging some FBI acquaintance to drop a dime on Broadwell. I guess she couldn’t have approached Betraeus herself with a complaint because, after all, all these little off-the-book affairs must be compartmentalized.

    Some folks are taking the whole “Betraeus was set up” tack back a long time ago with Broadwell being a willing agent. Certainly she has the background, but it requires a lot more info before that line gains weight. My curiosity is stuck on the Kelley–>FBI “whistleblower” friend–>Reichert/Cantor continuum. The question “Why Cantor?” wont go away.

  89. klynn says:

    Cantor’s Sr. Staffer Stombres retired in 2009 from the Army Reserves after a 21 year career as an Army Intel Officer.

    And here is more:

    And when I see Cantor’s name and FBI in the same sentence I remember this OT:


  90. klynn says:

    Reichert, in the 109th and 110th Congressional Committee memberships, was on HS and was ranking minority member on the Subcommittee on intel information sharing. Not on these now, as far as I can tell.

    Not that this information answers any questions. Just FYI.

  91. Rayne says:

    @joanneleon: Classic — evidence of GMTA. ;-)

    @bmaz: Go to the House Intel leader? Seriously? You’d go to Mike Rogers? The man’s as dumb as a fence post. The other factor to keep in mind is that staff quite often are the first line, not the congress critter; who’s Rogers’ staffer? are they not approachable?

    We also don’t know if it wasn’t Cantor’s staffer approached and not Cantor directly, do we?

    So many little wrinkles in this story yet to be straightened out.

  92. Rayne says:

    @bmaz: Um, perhaps that’s evidence as to the degree of stoopit — not even his own party respects his intellect and capabilities to think of him first?

  93. TG says:

    What sort of e-mails would interest the FBI? E-mails that have a national security implication.

    Was Broadwell sending Kelley e-mails that implied or stated that Kelley was under surveillance or investigation? (Subtext: You have no privacy, no secrets. I know what you’re doing.) Was Broadwell sending Kelley e-mails that implied or stated that classified information was being misused or would be misused? (I have secret information about you. I’m going to use secret information about you to destroy you.)

    If the e-mails seemed informed rather than being reads-too-many-spy-novels blithering and seemed like they could be originating from someone holding a clearance, the FBI would be very likely to have made preliminary checks on their origin and then taken it from there.

  94. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    @Teddy: Ah. Now things begin to make more sense.
    Cantor always seems more allied with Israel than his district in VA, and before the election the administration had to put the squeeze on Bibi to back off Iran. (The Guardian has been covering this ongoing tension.)

    Makes it even more interesting that DiFi was not notified.

  95. Mary says:

    Cantor is up to his eyeballs in an attempt to create a situation for the democratic Administration. Why would anyone call Cantor when there are scores of others in the intellegence community with the authority to actually do something. Cantor will be found to be right in the middle of the outing of Pretrause. His real goal was to go after the president until he realized he was also running for re-election and knowing of the Pretrause situation 10 days before anyone else would have put him in jeopardy, so he had to put-off his envolvement on to a “whistle-blower” ?? Convenient.

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