What If It Were the Real Muslim Housewives of Tampa Bay Scandal?

In all my coverage of the Petraeus scandal, I haven’t really touched on the aspect that regular readers of this blog were presumably least surprised about: the virtually unchecked authority the FBI has to snoop. As always, Chris Soghoian and Julian Sanchez offer worthwhile discussions of that surveillance. Yesterday, Greg Miller and Ellen Nakashima described how folks in DC are freaking out upon discovery of how intrusive all this surveillance can be.

The FBI started its case in June with a collection of five e-mails, a few hundred kilobytes of data at most.

By the time the probe exploded into public view earlier this month, the FBI was sitting on a mountain of data containing the private communications — and intimate secrets — of a CIA director and a U.S. war commander. What the bureau didn’t have — and apparently still doesn’t — is evidence of a crime.

How that happened and what it means for privacy and national security are questions that have induced shudders in Washington and a queasy new understanding of the FBI’s comprehensive access to the digital trails left by even top officials.

I’ve been saying from the start this whole shit-show would be useful if it made some Members of Congress rethink their permissive attitude towards surveillance and lazy oversight.

All that said, it’s important to note that the Petraeus example–at least what we know of it–isn’t even close to as bad as Big Brother gets in this country, even with questions about the predicate of the investigation.

Which is why I wanted to consider how this might be different if, instead of a bunch of mostly-Anglo connected Republicans, this investigation had focused on Muslims (we’ve discussed Jill Kelley and her sister’s interesting story as indebted Arab-Americans; it will be interesting to see how their access is treated going forward).

After all, while it is unlikely the FBI would have responded to a cyber-stalking complaint from an unconnected Muslim, it’s possible the internet traffic involved, particularly if it spanned international boundaries, might have attracted attention in its own right. Alternately, had the anonymous emails reflecting knowledge of the movement of top Generals involved a Muslim rather than a white Reserve Colonel, we would not now be debating whether the FBI had the predicate to investigate her emails further (though I maintain the FBI may have used a Counter-Intelligence predicate to continue the investigation in the first place).

Probably, from there the FBI would have used additional intrusive investigative methods. The National Security establishment is only now focusing on Kelley and her sister’s debt problems. Which leads me to suspect no one bothered to look at their financial records until the press started doing so. What would the FBI have found had they looked at financial records, showing more details about who paid what for whom when? How would the Kelleys’ bogus cancer charity look, for example, if you had more access to their financial records?

And then there’s one big difference. We know–because we’ve heard numerous individual stories and because Ted Olson admitted it in court–that the FBI uses discoveries like the ones they made here to coerce people to turn informant. Legal trouble, financial trouble, marital trouble? All have made people targets for “recruitment.”  And those informants are sent out, with little training or legal protection, to spy on their fellow citizens, often the leaders of their community. The FBI will send out series of informants, for years on end, to target Imams who never do anything illegal but nevertheless either have connections–possibly familial–or First Amendment protected views that lead the FBI to suspect them. In the Muslim community, some people live for years under this kind of surveillance, sometimes ultimately getting caught in an FBI sting, at other times, just living a law-abiding life under the most intrusive scrutiny.

I do hope the Petraeus example scares the shit out of the often more morally and legally compromised people empowered to approve and oversee such surveillance. But I still think the scandal offers the merest glimpse into what our current state of surveillance really looks like.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

96 replies
  1. Rayne says:

    LOL First impression of the unfolding D-Pat cat fight story was Real Housewives of Tampa — this has become a massively popular reality TV show without the monetization. Add a modifier like Muslim and wow, now somebody is going to have to produce an equivalent for TLC. Gotta’ replace programs featuring those uber-breeder families, right? Perhaps:

    Kate plus 8 => D-Pat plus 2

    17 and Counting => 2 and Counting

    Or maybe TLC will come up with an entirely new program; might even fit better on Discovery. Something like “Deadliest Catch: Wives & Mistresses,” or maybe “Best Evidence: Email Dragnet”

    Certainly puts an entirely new spin on “Shark Week.”

  2. scribe says:


    The money problems and the living-beyond-their-means problems and the disappointed-with-my-career-dead-end-because-I’m-really-smarter-than-the-grades-say problems. The FBI and the security services still have not learned from the Aldrich Ames, John Walker ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Anthony_Walker ), and Robert Hanssen ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Hanssen ) cases (to name only three).

    Unsurprising the DC types would quail when the panopticon gets pointed their way. It’s only supposed to be used on people browner than they are.

    Along the same lines, if you want to stop the wars, start drafting the kids of the DC elite. I’m sure there’s sufficient authority in the Iraq AUMF.

  3. saltinwound says:

    As far as the enmity between these women goes, I have seen plenty of mentions of Kelley being Lebanese. But I am also a little curious if Paula (Kranz) Broadwell is Jewish.

  4. P J Evans says:

    The twins’ husbands seem to be remarkably absent in all of this. I have a hard time believing they were that unaware of what was going on. (Well, maybe Natalie’s didn’t know. But I think it was part of the reason for that divorce.)

  5. orionATL says:

    i am so glad you are zeroing in on this.

    the fbi/doj using low-level misconduct to extort spying and plea bargaining?

    (m.l. king said, “the fbi tries to get you on communism, money, or sex”)

    where have i heard that before?

    let’s see now, what was that guy’s name?

    oh, yeah, j. edgar hoover.

    moral of the story – any time you create a bureauceacy that can abuse the law
    and abuse their power, that bureaucracy will do so.

    repeat, ANY time.

    our politically cowardly, rich-folk infested congress

    and our authoritarian and rich president and vice-president,

    co-operated in 2001-4 to create a monster of an abusive security state that has been allowed to persist by subsequent congresses and a rich-guy prez.

    for myself, since this first began, i have wanted to know all the details of how the fbi obtained the correspondance it used to destroy petraeus and raise questions about allen.

  6. scribe says:

    @P J Evans: The smart husband of someone like these twins is the husband who leaves and doesn’t look back. (To his credit, the husband of the really-psycho twin was gallant enough to stick around and pull their kid out of it. It only cost him years in litigation and millions.) As I noted in a prior comment, this is a train wreck sundae with flaming plane crash on top.

    But, to be fair, on those Real Housewives shows, the husband is pretty much an afterthought: a guy who shows up, provides lots of money and servicing as needed, and otherwise stays both out of the way and in the background only.

  7. orionATL says:

    and lest any reader think my emphasis on personal wealth was gratuitous insult,

    it was not.

    the wealthy, and i do not mean here only the superwealthy, have a great deal less to fear from an authoritarian security bureaucracy than do ordinary folk.

    similarly with the politically powerful and their dependents,

    the wealthy and powerful, least of all.

    idle question: did petraeus, broadwell, allen, or kelley receive national security letters?

  8. mcville says:

    What the FBI has said on record is that they have found no evidence of any breach of national security. Which could lead one to another question — did they detect any other sort of malfeasance? On the other hand, if there was evidence of a threat to national security, would they publicly state so?

    There are lots of possible connections with the twins and their history before moving to Tampa. For folks familiar with the Philadelphia area, the reported family relationship with Jimmy Tayoun, and the area of the city he represented, might prompt some speculation. But that’s all it is, at this point.

    FYI, it was reported on Meet the Press today, that someone at a senior level in law enforcement decided to proceed with the cyber threat investigation. It’s hard to tell if that decision was warranted, without knowing all of the details of what was in Broadwell’s emails. I did read somewhere that one of the classified pieces of information she had obtained was the schedule of certain generals.

  9. P J Evans says:

    It sounds like MacDill needs to start its own ‘Welcome Wagon’ to introduce the new officers to the community, instead of letting the locals do all of it.

  10. bmaz says:

    @mcville: Not only did someone senior at DOJ Main have to sign off (and it is clear that was the case after a point), but DOJ attorneys must be involved as well.

  11. Frank33 says:

    Is this too gratuitous, to report? Deb Sclussel has discovered the The Twins are Hezbollah spies. At first Deb thought they were merely her rivals in raising the morale of our bloody Warmonger Leaders.

    I believed that these twin sisters with obvious twin nose jobs were merely bimbo gold diggers in slutty outfits, who used their Delilah ways to first nab rich husbands, and then nab idiotic top American generals to participate in Lifetime-Channel-worthy bitter child custody disputes

  12. orionATL says:

    from the miller/nakashima article cited above this very strange observation:

    “…But in this case, the trail cut across a seemingly vast territory with no clear indication of the boundaries, if any, that the FBI imposed on itself. The thrust of the investigation changed direction repeatedly and expanded dramatically in scope…”

    so what else is new?

    do miller/nakashima or the power elite they are discussing seriously believe the fbi is capable of self-restraint?

    the fbi is not.

    the social structures we build – bureaus, corporations, armies – lack brain and lack morality. every now and again an individual or indivials inside such a structure will impose their brain and sense of morality on the structure.

    but that does not have to happen, and often does not – cf ashcroft, gonsalez, or holder.

  13. guest says:

    @scribe: But I am also a little curious if Paula (Kranz) Broadwell is Jewish.
    Being from the Dakotas, I think it’s not very likely she is Jewish. Just because you’re a neo-con and have a German surname doesn’t make you Jewish.

  14. Saltinwound says:

    @guest, I was the one who asked. I understand the distinctions. I am Jewish with a German surname. But I think it is a fair question to ask while everything about the Kelley ethnicity and religion is brought up as relevant. I agree it is not very likely in the Dakotas, but if we were sniffing out Arab or Muslim roots, no one would think that was a good enough answer.

  15. x174 says:

    national security secrets vs victoria’s secrets

    just goes to show: you can have the gazillion dollar cyber/intel national security apparatus but man it with the likes of incompetents like petraeus, and the whole thing comes apart at the seams when a couple of slutty bimbo twins and blowjob biographers show up in revealing outfits.

    the whole thing is absolutely pathetic.
    the professionals that man the national security apparatus act like a bunch of preschoolers that have not been properly pottytrained.

    petraeus, director of the ciyeah!

    (i read in a state of the world report (c1999) from the cia that the worst thing that could happen to a country is to have an incompetent leader; the following year we got brain-dead bush and uncle fester cheney)

  16. Frank33 says:

    I actually am reading her Post. She throws Secret Agent Man Wolfe under the neo-con bus. But he is a neo-con. And Deb has the audacity to call The Twins, “chicks”. That is so catty. Oops, sorry cats, I apologize.

    Deb does add that Wolfe was a “Top Official”. One Twin went to Pakistan and other Oil rich mideast nations at war. That could explain the P4 part of Jill’s Clean Coal Deal.

    Kelley’s sister, Natalie Khawam, was married to a top Bush administration official, Grayson Wolfe, Director of Broader Middle East Initiatives and Iraqi Reconstruction at the Export-Import Bank of the United States, and frequently accompanied him on trips to the Middle East, including to Pakistan.

    I am waiting for Vickie Nuland to get caught in this. Her husband, Bobby Kagan of the Kagan Crime familty also travels frequently with P4. Or is it Freddie Kreuger Kagan?

  17. emptywheel says:

    @mcville: One badly underreported story on all this was Marc Ambinder’s description of one reason why Petraeus had to resign–and, yeah, it does show that they aren’t telling us of all the NatSec compromise here. He’s in the chain-of-command for the nuclear football.

    When he admitted having an extramarital affair with Paula Broadwell, CIA Director David Petraeus, as a senior civilian in the presidential chain of command should something go catastrophically wrong in Washington, violated special behavior codes for officials who might one day be forced to execute nuclear strikes.

    In classified presidential emergency action documents, the CIA director is among the dozens, if not hundreds, of officials who are listed as National Command Authority successors in the event that higher-ranking officials are no longer able to do their jobs.

    Because under certain circumstances he’d have ready access to the nuclear satchel, Petraeus was indoctrinated into the Personnel Reliability Program, which evaluates and monitors the lifestyle and behavior of Americans with access to nuclear command and control mechanisms. Adultery is not a minor sin under the PRP rules.

    The details of so-called “nuclear pre-delegation” is one of the most tightly held secrets in the U.S. government. The first 18 presidential successors are spelled out by law. But it is not clear whether the pre-delegation lists follow the Constitutional chain of command.

  18. marksb says:

    @Frank33: Read that post the other day and again this morning, just in case I missed something. That’s a whole pile of CT she’s got there: my friend said, it’s obvious that, so surely this is the secret truth.

    Fits all the other CT from the week…spies, sex, money, Anonymous bringing down Rove, Rove plotting the change of votes, Benghazi pay-back, P4 pay-back, Rice plotting with Obama, prisoners in CIA custody, Stevens recruiting terrorist militias, it just goes on and on…Left and Right, there seems to be plenty to go around.

    Maybe that’s what we’ve come to, CT 24/7.

  19. bmaz says:

    @marksb: Deb Schlussel is one of the biggest nujob crackpot cranks in the history of wacked out crankery. Nothing she says should be taken as anything other than a joke.

  20. bell says:

    how does the usa differ from nazi germany, or communist russia in all the data it is presently collecting? are the people and politicians of the usa okay with all this?

  21. Frank33 says:

    I spoke too quickly. Vickie Nuland Kagan should resign immediately for the good of the Nation. Her family, “Team Kagan”, is very, very close to P4. Now the Kagans will have to be investigated for Clean Energy deals with Akkadian. This can only embarass the President.

    Vickie for our President, please resign, so you can spend more time with your family.

    Petraeus salutes ‘Team Kagan’ at AEI

  22. orionATL says:


    thanks for this very informative article.

    i have been wondering how the fbi got its info on petraeus and broadwell.

    i had gotten the implication from media accounts that it had been “turned over” by their organizations or by the principals themselves.

    i have wondered if any of the data on the pair came from nsc surveillance or isp’s.

  23. bmaz says:

    @orionATL: The fact that metadata was analyzed is kind of axiomatic, but we still do not know “how” that came to be to the degree it clearly was. We still do not now the precise access vehicle, nor the basis given in seeking to utilize it. This is particularly critical when, while there were many questions raised by the initial info, there does not appear to have been a criminal nor, really, even a suspected criminal, nexus.

  24. marksb says:

    @bmaz: If any party to the highest-level of secure communications and information is suspected of compromising their security responsibilities, no matter how insignificant, the system is set up to investigate the person and their access to and communication of the information. That’s how it works. Whole offices within the security structure exist just to dig around and then investigate any breach they find. P4 was an idiot, on that we can all agree. But he was compromising national security with his practice of idiocy. Who screwed whom under what desk for what favors is open to question and the subject of intense gossip, but there’s no question that hard security rules were violated.

  25. bmaz says:

    @marksb: Never said otherwise, but without an overt crime involved there are limitations as to the modalities which can be brought to bear, and what basis needs to be demonstrated to use them. And, with the DOJ, they pretty much all are predicated on, well, a crime. Not to mention that there was no apparent basis to even get to where they discovered Petraeus. It is almost the immaculate conception of investigations at many of the steps.

    But that said, there is much we have not seen, so maybe the stated basis was cognizably made. I am dubious, but let’s grant that. Then what modalities of gathering electronic information did they use, and what dis they provide, and to who, to get it?

  26. orionATL says:


    thanks, bmaz.

    that’s a missing piece in this puzzle. if cia or dod turned over docs, that is not surprising. however if some docs came from intercepting communications, storing them (unexamined and in bulk) and then going back and searching thru millions of comms, i would sure like to know this.

    at that point, in terms of surveillance, we are way beyond mere pattern searching and making based on huge data sets ala google and facebook claim to do.

  27. marksb says:

    @bmaz: Hm. I thought the FBI could investigate possible security breaches on the grounds that if they find them they may find a crime? That’s what I heard waaaaay back in the dark ages. Still, you and EW are asking the key question, as is most of the community, what’s going on under the “cover” of lurid and reality TeeVee-level behavior? I’m of the opinion that this series of failures is shaking certain parts of our government to it’s core, including the entire military, the security community, and the administration. Bunch of folks have to question their policies and judgments. I hope. Eternal optimist, I know.

    Your question of what types if data was accessed and how/why is also vital to our democracy. Not that that will make a difference. Hard to stuff that cat back into the bag.

  28. jerryy says:

    “I do hope the Petraeus example scares the shit out of the often more morally and legally compromised people empowered to approve and oversee such surveillance.”

    If this were possible, the (Frank) Church committee recommendations that came out after the Watergate affair and became the modern laws regarding wiretapping (non)limitations would actually have worked to keep the government from intruding as they wish rather than making it easier.

  29. emptywheel says:

    @bmaz: Bollocks. There is no reason to believe this wasn’t treated as a CT/CI investigation once they read Broadwell’s discussions of the location of top generals.

    Or has FBI seemingly lost all their magic NatSec powers and I haven’t heard of it.

  30. Frank33 says:

    Bimbo Gold Diggers In Slutty Outfits

    Will it be a Feature film, reality show, Computer Game, Blog Post or whatever. But we all have something in common, the suffering and the blood and the war profits. And as Luke Russert would say: “In the day we sweat it out in the streets of a runaway american dream”

  31. bmaz says:

    @marksb: My issue in that regard is they took this to a full blown criminal investigation (and there are formal stages you go through to get that far) without hint of a crime. The sole complainant was Kelley. Not Allen, and no one knew about Petraeus. Now, there may well be a good answer for that, but I would like to see it. I will bet some real money it is ginned up bullshit.

    Here is one reason I am so skeptical about how this case got greased through in the amazing way it was……It. Just. Does. Not. Happen.

    In the last two years reported, 2010 and 2011, there were over 600,000 cyber crime complaints filed with the FBI. In that time, a grad total of ten of them have been pursued as cyber-harassment crimes under federal law.

  32. greengiant says:

    Black holes and Black sites, it is a very short stretch to question what NGOs are monitoring and even hacking private computers in the US. Your internet address and all your visits past and present are available to any honey trap link, not to mention if you even make a comment or social network post somewhere. You can limit some information by running in only one window/tab with private or no history. Some sites even post the geolocation, operating system, web browser etc of their visitors. The advertisers are doing this to provide you with custom web adverts. Facebook is notorious for linking internet addresses, email lists and phone numbers.
    In addition to the usual Moldavian or Romanian internet address hits I recently noticed some dynamic addresses coming from the Amazon cloud service.

  33. emptywheel says:

    @bmaz: With exactly zero of those stats involving top Generals. However, in the past year there were innumerable investigations into perceived Cyber-attacks.

    FBI has good reason to worry about hacks of people like Petraeus. It happens a lot.

  34. orionATL says:


    nice to see a reference to senator church’s committee’s work.

    as with banking and glass-steagall, our lawmakers forgot history, and not even very ancient history at that, and our presidentes didn’t give a damn about it.

    following your lead, i’ll post this short summary of that history which arouse out of abuse of our gov’t’s wiretapping privilege by fbi, nsa, cia.:


  35. bmaz says:

    @emptywheel: I don’t recall saying any jurisdiction got removed from the FBI, did I? I am just dubious that “the locations of the generals” is more than a pile of ginned up rubbish when it gets disclosed. Maybe, we shall see. There are, at least to my view, legitimate questions about BOTH the process and methods of this investigation especially about how it was conducted prior to being designated CT/CI.

  36. bmaz says:

    @emptywheel: They did not even know Petraeus was involved and Allen was not a complainant. Or did they just divine all that? Like I said, maybe it will all make sense, I will believe it when I see it and am not comfortable that it was all kosher. I believe they are legitimate questions.

  37. emptywheel says:

    @bmaz: As I understand it the emails turned over made it clear the sender knew a remarkable amount about Petraeus and Allen’s movement.

    That’s a huge red flag for phishing. You investigate that, obviously, bc in the past such efforts have compromised entire weapons systems.

    Sure, they’ve got an itchy trigger finger bc DOD and other NatSec Agencies have been compromised so often. But that’s because of real success with attacks that look just like this probably did.

  38. bmaz says:

    @emptywheel: What is a remarkable amount? So far, there has been a lot of puffery and the nature of the emails that I have seen discussed/reported look a lot more innocuous than that. Again, maybe that turns out to be the case, but I remain dubious. Some of it is just the feel of it. For one, sure looks to me like they waited an awfully long time, like about three or more months, to interview Petraeus, Broadwell and Allen. Even if you thought they were really up to criminal behavior, it strikes me you don’t wait until your investigation is effectively over to interview the suspects. I dunno, the story being pitched still doesn’t feel right to me. Your mileage may vary.

  39. emptywheel says:

    @bmaz: You know how innocuous phishing looks? Add that to detailed knowledge about where Petraeus’ thigh was at a given time and it sounds like spying/hacking.

    Sorry, you seem to believe that the govt doesn’t check out ANYTHING that looks like this anymore, bc they’re so paranoid about hacking. I don’t buy that–I really don’t.

    Sucks to be a General, but that’s the world we live in.

    The delay is of more concern, I’ll grant (though remember this didn’t start in February, as first reported, but in June.

  40. orionATL says:

    it seems to me that there is a big difference, as far as having a legitimate rationale for gov’t wiretap/spying, between

    – preventing something bad from happening (terrorist attack), and

    – finding out, post hoc, who did something bad in order to prosecute them.

    what the fbi discovered is something that was a completed past action (though one with imaginable future actions implied – assassination, blackmail).

  41. bmaz says:

    @emptywheel: I understand what you are saying. But they kept getting answers/explanations to the questions that were raised that closed off concerns….and they didn’t go to obvious people, like the three critical participants and simply ask. A lot depends on what really was in the initial emails and at what point it transferred to the special sections for CT/CI.

    I will say this much, I don’t get what interest the FBI has for ginning it up out of thin air. Short of a line of people thinking it was the big career maker hit for them if there was something nefarious found, which would explain why they pursued it so doggedly especially after they were already in. And that does happen. But still, no evidence of that and no obvious other motivation.

  42. emptywheel says:

    @bmaz: I have a pretty good feeling that the FBI, like CIA and most of the rest of our NatSec establishment, defaults on data rather than human footwork.

    So it doesn’t surprise me they used all their fancy data mining tools before they got to the very basic step of asking questions. That doesn’t make it smart–none of this is smart! But it doesn’t make me surprised.

  43. bmaz says:

    @emptywheel: Well, it was a “cyber” complaint I guess. They seem to still do footwork around here on drug, kidnapping, etc. cases. It seems like such a no-brainer though with these subjects though. Really, can no one stop and say “Jeez, these people are clean, established folks with security clearances and all, there are no overt crimes, let’s see what they got to say”? Normally, even when you suspect people of something, you go talk to them and put them on the record early so you can also generate the specter of false statements. Crikey, that is half of the fed toolkit any more. But not here.

    You may be right, but I am not going to trust them that such is so without seeing the homework. You suppose we ever really will?

  44. FrankProbst says:

    So now that we’ve gotten here, how does end? I think Petraeus and Broadwell are both done with their careers but will probably not be prosecuted for anything (though I’m not sure about Broadwell–she consents to a search of her home, and they find classified info on her computer–still not sure what she and/or her lawyer were thinking). Petraeus gets wingnut welfare. He appears to have (finally) lawyered up. I was a bit surprised he didn’t invoke his fifth amendment rights when he testified to Congress. I doubt he’s going to testify to any committee again. So we’ll see him on Fox in a month or two.

    The twins and Allen are the people that I don’t have a good read on yet. Jill Kelley lawyered up quick. How’s she paying for it? She’s supposedly millions in debt, and her lawyers can’t be working for free. Everything about her reeks of fraud to me. Her sister is supposedly even nuttier. I doubt either of them would survive a good look at their finances. Allen will likely get to retire instead of being forced to resign. But the big “if” with Allen is whether or not he really did anything wrong and whether or not the FBI can get Jill Kelley to SAY he did anything wrong.

  45. orionATL says:


    uh, bmaz, about that non-existant – we know this to be true – “tension” between fbi and cia relating, say, to the sept 11 attack and to the fbi standards on interrogation (credit them with having had standards) and

    the cia’s “standards” (no standards, no qualms, no sense of what would work, no regard for national or international law).

  46. bmaz says:

    @FrankProbst: I do not understand the “consensual” search Broadwell and her attorney, Robert Muse, allowed either. Unless there was an agreement re: use against her. As to Petraeus’ lawyer, Barnett is not himself that kind of lawyer, he is the guy you go to for book deals and PR types of things (although there are other attorneys at his firm that do defense). I actually think Allen will be fine and takes his latest appointment and serves out. Excellent questions about the Kelleys.

  47. Frank33 says:

    General Petraeus and the other Generals are the victims in all this. Iran Contra veteran Robert Gates dares to criticize the Generals, who have earned their perks and laisons.

    What everyone is missing is that P4 has. PTSD. Another General says so, although we do not know if that General was laisoned. P4 has been fighting longer than anyone. No one is focusing on the effects of fighting for 11 years. P4 has fought women, children, liberals, jealous Generals, jealous mistresses and MoveOn.org.

    “There is something about a sense of entitlement and of having great power that skews people’s judgment,” Gates said last week.

    Among the Army’s general officer corps, however, there is little support for Gates’s hypothesis. “I love the man. I am his biggest supporter. But I strongly disagree,” said retired Gen. Peter Chiarelli, who served as Gates’s senior military assistant. “I find it concerning that he and others are not focusing on the effect on our guys of fighting wars for 11 years. No one was at it longer than Petraeus.”

  48. marksb says:

    EW&bmaz, I would think that there was plenty of questions and disturbing data on P4 by the time the cyber harassment complaint was filed. Word is the people around him in Afghanistan knew there was hanky-panky going on with the biographer, and that’s got to get back to DC, if only because it’s a bit of juicy gossip to tell at lunch. But it also suggests potential compromised security and because the FBI is charged with investigating any national security challenges, somebody might have been collecting packet traffic and logs before the complaint happened. And the complaint blew this up–Jill’s situation was out there enough that a quick check opened a world of craziness and compromised generals. They had no choice but to turn up the heat.

  49. greengiant says:

    Default path of investigation with no active steering.
    1. Broadwell Internet address found from Kelley emails
    2. Patraeus Internet address found from Broadwells and Patraeus draft email
    3. Kelley Patraeus and Kelley Allen emails noted.

    Questions, are deleted drafts and send/receive emails stored by NSA or did the FBI just have to get gmail to access the current email acounts. Did the FBI even have to get a DOJ attorney to sign for asking gmail?
    Does the NSA just hand over email headers to counter terrorism/counter intelligence without warrant in the big A**** database?

    1,2 and 3, would take 3 or so of 5900+ per year warrantless requests?

    I am thinking they got all of Broadwell’s first order email activity and along came with it anyone else who was using the same account(s).
    Then maybe there was more supervision.

  50. marksb says:

    @FrankProbst: The thing about Allen is those 30,000 “pages” that were reported to have passed between him and Kelly. If any of those are classified or mission-compromising in some way, he’s about to have a lot of time to play golf. If they show a major confidentiality compromise then he might find he can’t book any golf for the next few years.

  51. orionATL says:


    you get ptsd from a specific traumatic event or series of such. you get ptsd from having your house torn apart and family members killed in a tsunami, or by having your body torn apart by an ied, or bynbeing in battle for weeks, or by a brutal personal assault, etc.

    i doubt you get it from working hard at something you were trained for and love, e.g., petraeus.

  52. bmaz says:

    @marksb: That is the popular story now. You really think some mopes in the Tampa Field Office knew all that about Petraeus when they turned it into a criminal investigation?? Really, cause the story has been that they did not even learn Petraeus was involved until well into the investigation. Assuming that there is any propriety by the FBI on anything, including this, is not a leap I will take. Let’s hope it all makes sense and is square. That is a rare thing but what the heck it may be. I would like the questions answered.

  53. FrankProbst says:

    @bmaz Petraeus’ lawyer will likely advise him not to testify about any of this under oath and not to talk to the feds without his lawyer present. I think ew pointed out that adultery is illegal in Virginia, and I think there was something about it in the UCMJ. The details of the “when” and the “where” of the affair could land him in hot water. I doubt he’ll actually be charged with adultery, but I do think he could get hit with charges of perjury or lying to the feds if he starts running his mouth and can’t keep his story straight.

    I just don’t see Allen surviving this. I think there really is some “there there” with Jill Kelley, and you know those e-mails are going to leak eventually. Maybe he just called her “babe” a few times, but I suspect it’s more than that. When I hear phrases like “thousands of e-mails”, I think that someone is either working really hard or having a really torrid affair.

  54. Frank33 says:

    I am guessing there is a lot of PTSD being dropped on Gaza, some of it made in the USA.

    And I am guessing General Allen, Mattis, McRaven, Admiral Harwood and P4’s No. 2 Morell are helping to flatten Gaza. I bet Eric Holder and Lanny Breuer are also helping toflatten Gaza.

  55. orionATL says:


    informative and concise.

    this in particular interests me:

    “… Questions, are deleted drafts and send/receive emails stored by NSA or did the FBI just have to get gmail to access the current email acounts. Did the FBI even have to get a DOJ attorney to sign for asking gmail?
    Does the NSA just hand over email headers to counter terrorism/counter intelligence without warrant in the big A**** database?…”

    i’d love to see an answer come out of an investigation, but fat chance the fat cats in congress will do other than “tsk, tsk, tsk”.

  56. marksb says:

    @bmaz: I think the mopes in Tampa did their little thing and somewhere in some office in DC a little bell went “Ding!”
    Or the small-time office in Tampa was doing their boondocks-FBI-office best and happened to find some Big Fish in the net. Even a blind squirrel…

    I dunno. I just wish the heck someone would concentrate on securing our government’s networks, and get the heck out of ours.

  57. SpanishInquisition says:

    What I’ve read is the reason the FBI pursued this case was because they saw a potential national security threat with knowing where the top brass was going to be. However, politically the WH is in a huge bind for why they didn’t tell Congress this (the real reason why I think the WH is talking themselves into knots about this). If they were to go and say the FBI immediately got onto this due to national security, they’d have no excuse for not notifying Congress months ago. Instead what we’ve got is leaks saying one thing and publicly the statements being all over the place.

    Also I think the WH is trying to put a lid on this can of worms with Allen by the President publicly supporting Allen when he’s under investigation (which to me doesn’t seem kosher). There’s been excuses for Allen that those emails were between his wife and Kelley, but they were still revealing sensitive information about the dates and locations that top military brass was going to be. If Allen was chatty to his wife about his future whereabouts and then his wife was chatty to Tampa socialites, that’s hardly a defense for Allen, but it seems to be what the WH is doing.

  58. SpanishInquisition says:

    @marksb: The problem becomes when there’s a blending of “ours” and “theirs.” I remember like with Sarah Palin how it went to court to get her personal emails because she conducted official business with them. It sounds like something similar also happened here. Actually I think a case could be made that some of Kelley’s emails are public because she was acting as a de facto government contractor with the military/diplomatic events that she put on and coordinated with the government. I think the military has realized this, which has been why they’ve been so quick to distance themselves from any relationship to Kelley. Kelley for instance says that she coordinated with the military in responding to the Koran Deep Fry threat – I don’t know if that’s true or not that Petraeus was working with her on that, but something like that would turn those emails from private to public.

  59. rg says:

    @bmaz: @emptywheel: I’ve been struggling to follow your interesting dialogue, but ready access to the data points and their temporal relation are your ouvre, not mine. Nevertheless, I venture to intrude and ask a question that may be related. When someone is nominated for a position that includes being in that nuclear chain that requires Caesar’s wife-level of propriety, is that person given a thorough vetting by say the NSA, using whatever databases it has access to? If that is yes, then it would seem that the adultrous affair, rumored as it was, would have been grist to the vetting mill, and then one wonders if it was ignored. Secondly, is there a legal wall that keeps this info unavailable the the FBI agents investigating an harassment claim.

  60. bmaz says:

    @rg: Great question, what is the real process for that? Maybe Marcy knows, I have no idea. I kind of doubt the vetting goes that far, but is probably just a very thorough update/recheck of their prior security clearance screen. I wonder if they are made to do polygraphs? Am having a hard time picturing them stringing Petraeus, Allen etc up to a poly, but who knows?

  61. emptywheel says:

    @rg: Interesting question. Don’t know the answer to it. That said, Clinton was diddling and had first dibs at the nuclear football.

    Granted, you can’t vet the President, but still.

  62. rg says:

    @bmaz: Yes, I imagine the “high standards” for members of that chain exist more on paper than in practice; polygraphs are not for the uppers. What drives my thinking on this has to do with the subtle words that the director was “allowed to resign”, as if it was a good thing. And it is, by keeping accumulated perks, and good in relation to being fired, criminally charged (or we now need to consider, being subject to the options of the disposition matrix). Further it seemed odd to me that he was told (not suggested, nor asked) to resign, and not by the head of the FBI,DOJ, or even the president, but by the director of national security. Over an extra-marital affair? Come on. Keeping it a step removed from the president indicated to me that the reason for the “firing” is to be a secret, possibly Bengahzi related.

  63. orionATL says:



    this business about checking out dozens or hundreds of folk on “the nuclear fire list”
    has the odor of a debate tactic, not reality.

    if using a long list is an impractical idea under nuclear missle speeds (and it clearly is),

    then so is checking out members a ways down on that list.

    let’s say, for purposes of argument, that the nukes are on their way.

    furthermore, an initial mirved nuke has already decimated washington, d.c.

    so then what?

    we get the list of those who are dead and on “the authorized list” of nuclear missle firers.


    someone or some group (who might that be) authorizes the top-listed non-dead firer to fire –

    all in 30 minutes?

    this is a nonsense argument.

  64. greengiant says:

    @rg: The “Benghazi” attack on the administration has been a corporate right wing political attack from the getgo. Odd ducks like the right wing Israeli press being first to out Broadwell’s Denver remarks, or the pr-economics lobbyist who worked for tobacco on second hand smoke and then energy companies on denying global warming. Glenn Beck, the guy whose listeners picked up his “hit list” and put a bullet in Gifford or killed two people in San Francisco who they thought were in a left wing organization.
    That is exactly the roll call that should be listed whenever anyone brings up Benghazi.
    Connecting the dots from Broadwell to the corporate right wing smear is what is needed.

  65. Morris Minor says:

    About Lebanese & Muslims- a lot of the Lebanese immigrants from the late 1800’s to the mid 20th century were Christians escaping persecution. Ralph Nader’s parents, for example. Statistically it is likely the Crazy Kelleys are from a Christian background.

  66. emptywheel says:

    Incidentally, this detail seems to suggest Petraeus was interviewed twice, and only ‘fessed up to the diddling the second time.

    It wasn’t until Oct. 26 that Petraeus acknowledged the affair to FBI agents, during their second interview of him, a federal law enforcement official disclosed Friday. The official was not authorized to speak on the record about the ongoing case and requested anonymity for that reason.

  67. FrankProbst says:

    @ew 83 This would suggest that he was lying to the Feds the first time around, no? As I’ve noted above, I think that this (if anything) is what’ll get him into legal trouble. But right now, I think the whole Petraeus/Broadwell investigation is focused on the narrow question of how Broadwell got classified information that she shouldn’t have had access to, even if she had the appropriate security clearance to see it. The leaks are saying it wasn’t from Petraeus. The Feds have leverage on both Petraeus and Broadwell. So where’d the classified info come from?

  68. bmaz says:

    @emptywheel: Jeebus, I had not seen that before; was it around before Dozier’s 11/16 report you linked? Far as I recall, everything had intimated just one interview. Would LOVE to know when the first one was. I would guess they tag teamed Petraeus and Broadwell both times, so it will be close to the time of her first interview, but that is nothing more than a guess.

    Interesting, had you seen that before?

  69. emptywheel says:

    @bmaz: No, it’s clearly attributed to a Friday interview, so it is new.

    Also remember, originally they said Paula was interviewed in September and October. Maybe those two dates are Petraeus’ interviews, not Paulas. But I’ve suspected for a while we’ll learn she was interviewed 3 times.

    And remember, Petraeus seems to have learned about the investigation–or at least Paula’s emails and others’ concerns about them–in June. Which means they may have shaded their early testimony to hide the sexy time.

  70. orionATL says:

    with respect to the purity of the fbi’s motives in pursuing
    the petraeus affair, i like to know how the specific content of some exchanges got to the media to repeat loudly, e.g.,
    sex under the desk.

    if an organization wants to cover up or stonewall on a matter involving an employee they use the “it’s s
    personnel matter”, or “it’s an ongoing investigation” dodges.

    that didn’t happen here.

    why was any of the content of the couple’s e-mails revealed?

    who revealed it to whom, e.g., fbi to doj to media or fbi to whitehouse to media?

  71. klynn says:

    Wish we knew who asked about ,”..a Jimmy Carter moment…” at the fundraiser. Something tells me it would be helpful information on everything.

  72. SebastianDangerfield says:

    @emptywheel: Yowza. That’s veddy intedesting. So we can add the possibility of Petraeus’s provably lying to the FBI to the list of reasons why he decided that there was no way out. (I say “provably lying” to distinguish the seemingly unprovable lie that the affair did not begin until after he left the military.)

    This, and @orionATL‘s reminder that at least one detail from the Broadwell-Petraeus e-mails has dribbled out, returns us to the question, “Why the torrent of law-enforcement-sourced leaks in this case?” There sure have been a lot of them. Too many, I think, for them all to be non-officially sanctioned. Surely, leaking out of school on a matter this momentous and politically fraught would be quite career-imperiling, so I can’t believe that all the leaks have been the result of pure freelancing. At the same time, not all of them seem to have the same motivation. And if we could suss out the motives for the various leaks, I think we’d be closer to having a full picture of WTF is going on. E.g., Why would someone in LE (presumably, within the FBI or DOJ more generally) feel the need to discredit “shirtless”? Why do we hear now the information that Petraeus was less than fully forthcoming when initially interviewed? Why do we know about Allen’s many “pages” of e-mail traffic with Jill?

  73. bmaz says:

    @SebastianDangerfield: Well, there are certainly other motivations possible here, but when I see such copious dripping and leaking clearly coming out of the bureau and/or DOJ, I think there is bootstrapping of bullshit and covering of asses going on. But that may just be me….

  74. klynn says:


    It could also be internal conflict that is not about CYA but about power struggles. If you look at everything going on right now, activities/issues/events, they break down into “sides” people are on. The breakdown is quite telling.

  75. SebastianDangerfield says:

    @klynn: This little rundown of insider tittle-tattle sheds, perhaps, some light on those rivalries. It seems we lefties aren’t the only ones upset about the militarization of the CIA.

  76. SebastianDangerfield says:

    @emptywheel: And, if the very slender tidbits in this piece — obviously planted in that beacon of the Fourth Estate, The New York Daily News by Kelley’s crisis manager — are true, there was at least some ground for doing something more than consigning the complaint to the circular file. Amusing further tidbit: Natalie has hired Gloria Allred.

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