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Why Did FBI Agent Go Outside Chain of Command in Reporting Petraeus Case to House Republicans?

The NY Times report on the latest in the Petraeus case raised my eyebrows quite a bit.  This is the most strikingly political aspect of this scandal:

Meanwhile, the F.B.I. agent who had helped get a preliminary inquiry started, and learned of Mr. Petraeus’s affair and the initial concerns about security breaches, became frustrated. Apparently unaware that those concerns were largely resolved, the agent alerted the office of Representative Eric Cantor, Republican of Virginia, the House majority leader, about the inquiry in late October. Mr. Cantor passed on the agent’s concerns to Mr. Mueller.

Other news reports (this one published in the Times as well) portrayed this part of the story slightly differently.  They say that the FBI agent contacted Rep. Dave Reichert (not Cantor) and that Reichert in turn contacted Cantor.  For those who may not know, Reichert is a law-and-order Christian conservative House member representing a suburban Seattle district.  His entre to victory in his first House race was that he’d been King County Sheriff when the Green River killings were solved.  Reichert is generally an ineffective, do-nothing GOP House member who’s made no mark during his service.

A number of questions arise about this part of the story: why would the FBI agent go outside the chain of command when he was dissatisfied with the progress in the case?  Why did he tell Reichert and Cantor that his was a “national security concern?”  Why did he contact Dave Reichert specifically?  My guess is that the FBI agent may’ve known Reichert through law enforcement circles (perhaps he served in the FBI’s Seattle office?).

The claim that knowledge of the affair by Republicans played no role in the decision to let Petraeus go seems weak to me.  Once the FBI agent got word to Reichert it became a huge partisan political football.  For that reason, the agent should be fired.  I want to know everything that Reichert and Cantor did, who they called, what they said, etc.  They were sniffing for a political advantage.  Did they overstep in their partisan zeal to dig up dirt on a senior Obama appointee?

Further, it appears this FBI agent began an investigation of the threatening e-mails sent to Jill Kelley because of a personal friendship between the victim and the agent.  Again, suspicious.  I’ve reported numerous  e-mailed death threats sent to me and would love to know who sent them.  The FBI has done nothing about them.  Curious that they’d take this one so seriously except for that personal connection.  I guess I need to make personal friends with some FBI agents.

Once they discovered that Paula Broadwell was author of the threatening e mails how and why did Petraeus become involved?  Since when does having e mails from a former mistress in your Inbox constitute a federal crime?

I’m having a lot of trouble seeing what specifically Petraeus did that should’ve demanded his resignation.  Throughout the investigation, the FBI attempted to uncover evidence that took this case outside the realm of an affair and that would make it a national security case.  They couldn’t find any.  Petraeus didn’t compromise national security, didn’t share classified documents.  He simply had an affair.  It appears he chose the wrong woman with which to do so as she caused the unraveling of his career.  But why did the FBI take this outside the agency?  What crime were they investigating?  What evidence of a crime did they have?

We’re still a nation of laws.  What laws were broken?  Would the affair be embarrassing to the president and all involved?  Sure.  But to give a distinguished general the ax because he’d engaged in a sexual indiscretion seems an impossibly high bar.  In some senses, we’re returning to those prurient days of the Clinton impeachment when Republicans wanted us to judge a President’s ability to govern based on whether or not he could keep his pants zipped.  I thought we, and Congress, said No to that by refusing to convict Clinton.  Apparently not when it comes to this president.

{ 12 comments… add one }
  • mary November 12, 2012, 2:21 AM

    Exactly. There appears to be no reason why Petraeus appears to have begged Obama to allow him to resign (recall earlier reports saying that initially, Obama refused his resignation). Next question: How a “family friend” is supposed to have been harassed by Petraeus’ ex-paramour, and why. And third, why the FBI jumped on it with an investigation without supposedly knowing the relationship between Petraeus and the sender of those e-mails. And fourth, why an FBI agent saw fit to become a whistleblower to a Republican senator, and why did he feel it was appropriate to do so subsequent to feeling “dissatisfied” with the investigation? What, pray tell, was the reason for his dissatisfaction?

    I have heard that Petraeus is no longer going to testify about Benghazi. Is this true?

  • Matt Graber November 12, 2012, 5:23 AM

    Well, there are many laws against adultery in this country. From a friend and law professor at Columbia:

    “adultery remains a crime in 27 states including the states that Petreaus claims as his residence: New Hampshire and Virginia. And of perhaps greater importance, the Uniform Code of Military Justice treats adultery very seriously: Adultery is punishable under Article 134, with a maximum punishment of dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 1 year.”

    Full article: link to blogs.law.columbia.edu

    • mary November 12, 2012, 7:03 AM

      How amazingly puritanical. And hypocritical as well.

    • Fred Plester November 12, 2012, 9:25 AM

      I don’t think she was actually in your country at the time: she was here.

      Where adultery is legal (much to the relief of David Mellor), but sending threatening communications definitely ain’t.

    • Richard Silverstein November 12, 2012, 4:30 PM

      He wasn’t in the Army when the affair started.

  • Binyamin in Orangeburg November 12, 2012, 9:11 AM

    Could it be that David Petreaus is the Robert McNamara of our time? For the younger generation: McNamara, serving as Pres. Johnson’s Secretary of Defense during the period of the great expansion of the war in Vietnam, secretly concluded the war was not only un-winable, but wrong. Although he argued against escalation within the highest councils, he never went public until a decade later. Was Petreaus the leader of Iran peace camp?

  • Alex Illi November 12, 2012, 11:25 AM

    “I’m having a lot of trouble seeing what specifically Petraeus did that should’ve demanded his resignation.”

    Welcome aboard :) Oh squinting Seer. … Surely the whole story is only comprehensible to lifelong citizens of the Planet USA, that seems to have completely dislodged into a more or less paralell universe. Ever so more I’m now astounded to see in these quantum-wormhole-fluxed transmissions from Planet USA by an entity called “Richard Silverstein” continuing tell-tale signs of what we call “common sense” and mental clarity.
    Yes, There’s life out there and this particularily seems just like us*! The rest of *US*, however, who does not seem surprised about the whole story – Summary: in a country that spews e.g. approx. 90% of the world’s ultra-extreme porn by now, a man who is likely responsible for the death of uncounted “collateral damage”-humans gets the whistle blown on by a federal investigator for an ‘affair’ and hurriedly resigns with deep regrets – may have scrambled crucial parts of their brains and hearts when they beamed themselves to divergent Universe USA, their New Secure Homeland.

  • Javaad November 12, 2012, 12:49 PM

    I suspect the intelligence embarrassment in Libya may have had a role to play.

  • dickerson3870 November 12, 2012, 5:15 PM

    ● RE: “. . . the [FBI] agent alerted the office of Representative Eric Cantor, Republican of Virginia, the House majority leader, about the inquiry in late October. . .” ~ N.Y. Times
    AND RE: “Other news reports portrayed this part of the story slightly differently. They say that the FBI agent contacted Rep. Dave Reichert (not Cantor) and that Reichert in turn contacted Cantor.” ~ R.S.

    ● MY COMMENT: As I understand it, the FBI agent first contacted Reichert. Then Reichert contacted Cantor (or someone in Cantor’s office). Next, Cantor (or someone in his office) contacted the FBI agent.
    So as to the question of whether “the [FBI] agent alerted the office of Representative Eric Cantor”, I suppose it can be said that the FBI agent did, in a sense, “alert” Cantor’s office. But “the whole truth” is that Congressman Reichert was the first person to actually alert Cantor’s office, and Reichert was the first congressman that the FBI agent actually alerted.
    This raises the question of whether Cantor and/or the Republicans have an interest in obscuring the intermediary role played by Reichert.
    Was Reichert first alerted because he was a former sheriff, or was he first alerted because he was a “Christian conservative”? Was the FBI agent also a “Christian conservative”? If the FBI agent was a “Christian conservative”, might this help explain why he/she went outside the chain of command when he/she was dissatisfied with the progress in the case? Enquiring mimes want to know!

    ● ALSO SEE: A Covert Affair: Petraeus Caught in the Honeypot? ~ by Justin Raimondo, Antiwar.com11/12/12

    [EXCERPT] . . . Will we ever know the full story? At this point, the story is so hot that it may burn the cover story — “it’s all about sex” — right off the wrapper. Because there’s more — a lot more — here than meets the eye. When Cantor pledged to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he and his fellow Republicans “will serve as a check on the administration” in regard to the President’s policy toward Israel, he was clearly aligning himself with a foreign leader against American interests as perceived by the White House. But would he really go this far — deliberately taking down a key figure, one beloved by Republicans, in order to keep his promise to Netanyahu?
    Stay tuned to this space, because this story is moving fast….

    ENTIRE COMMENTARY – link to original.antiwar.com

    ● P.S. “FREE DON” SIEGELMAN PETITION – link to change.org

    • dickerson3870 November 13, 2012, 12:07 AM

      P.P.S. RE: “As I understand it, the FBI agent first contacted Reichert. Then Reichert contacted Cantor (or someone in Cantor’s office). Next, Cantor (or someone in his office) contacted the FBI agent.” – me (above)

      MY COMMENT: It appears that I might not have understood it correctly!

      SEE: “A Petraeus Puzzle: Were Politics Involved?” ~ by Jane Mayer, The New Yorker, 11/12/12

      [EXCERPT] . . . The Times uses the word “murky” to describe what happened next, and there are many puzzling aspects. But according to the Times, at the end of October, a week or so after the F.B.I. investigators confronted Petraeus, an unidentified F.B.I. employee took the matter into his own hands. Evidently without authorization, he went to the Republicans in Congress. First he informed a Republican congressman, Dave Reichert of Washington state. According to the Times, Reichert advised this F.B.I. employee to go to the Republican leadership in the House. The F.B.I. employee then told what he knew about the investigation to Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader. Cantor released a statement to the Times confirming that he had spoken to the F.B.I. informant, whom his staff described as a “whistleblower.” Cantor said, “I was contacted by an F.B.I. employee who was concerned that sensitive, classified information might have been compromised.” . . .

      ENTIRE ARTICLE – link to commondreams.org

      • dickerson3870 November 13, 2012, 2:28 PM

        P.P.P.S. RE: “It appears that I might not have understood it correctly!” – me (above)

        MY COMMENT: Then again, it now appears that I might perhaps have understood it correctly. Time will tell. Or will it?

        FROM THE DAILY MAIL, 11/13/12:

        [EXCERPT] . . . In mid-October, Republican Representative David Reichert was told of a national security investigation involving Petraeus by an unidentified FBI informant. Reichert then forwarded that tip to Eric Cantor, the House Majority leader and the one of the most powerful Republicans in the country, on October 27. . .

        SOURCE – link to dailymail.co.uk

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