David Petraeus Resigns

11.13.12

Six Mysteries About David Petraeus, Paula Broadwell & Jill Kelley

We now know more than we ever wanted to about the general’s sex life. But there are still unanswered questions about his affair with Paula Broadwell—from what Obama knew to how the biographer got classified files.

When Gen. David Petraeus, a decorated military hero and the director of the CIA, started an illicit affair with biographer Paula Broadwell, he probably didn’t think the details would be splashed across every major news outlet in the United States, if not the world. But even as more information emerges about about their relationship, we still don’t know many things about the whole sordid story. The Daily Beast rounds up five questions that have yet to be answered.

1. Was Jill Kelley involved with Petraeus too?

Kelley unwittingly found herself at the middle of this scandal after reportedly receiving several threatening emails from an anonymous account. The 37-year-old Tampa resident, who is married to a cancer surgeon and volunteers with the military, got to know Petraeus when he was stationed in Florida, and the Kelleys are said to be family friends with the general and his wife. There are plenty of pictures to prove the two couples spent some time together. While most news accounts include an anonymous source saying Kelley and Petraeus weren’t romantically involved, it’s still not entirely clear why Broadwell felt the need to send the harassing emails. Was it just a misunderstanding or did Broadwell know there was more going on between Petraeus and Kelley?

2. Why Did Gen. Allen and Kelley Exchange up to 30,000 pages of emails?

General John Allen, the commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, is under investigation for allegedly sending 20,000 to 30,000 pages of “potentially inappropriate” emails to Jill Kelley since 2010. What was the substance of these flagged messages? Kelley, as we know, is the object of Paula Broadwell's angry emails. Broadwell, as we know too well by now, was the object of Gen. Petraeus's wandering eyes. And just when you thought it couldn't get any stranger...

3. What did President Obama know and when?

Did the president know about the affair before the election? When did he find out about the investigation? Was he surprised by Petraeus’s resignation? Obama had grown to like the general, who is widely credited for turning around the war in Iraq. It’s been reported that Obama struggled for a full 24 hours before deciding to accept Petraeus’s resignation, which would indicate the president was probably in the dark about the investigation. But it’s still not clear when Attorney General Eric Holder learned or FBI Director Robert Mueller found out about what was going on. It’s also not clear whether Justice Department officials told the president or if he learned of the problem directly from Petraeus’s resignation letter.

4. Why were Broadwell’s anonymous emails worth investigating?

Most stories about the affair and the investigation that uncovered it refer to “harassing” emails that accused Kelley of flirting with Petraeus and all around inappropriateness in the general’s presence. At one point, the authorities thought they had a cyber stalker on their hands. But The Daily Beast’s Michael Daly reports that the general was barely mentioned in Broadwell’s anonymous missives, which according to a source read like “kind of cat-fight stuff.” “More like, ‘Who do you think you are? … You parade around the base … You need to take it down a notch,’” the source told Daly. So where was the threat that necessitated an investigation?

5. Where is Paula Broadwell?

It’s hard to remain out of sight at a time like this, but so far the Broadwell family has been able to evade detection. Broadwell lives in Charlotte, N.C., with her radiologist husband and two young boys. But no one appears to be home in their upscale five-bedroom, four-bathroom home. A neighbor said the family has gone on vacation. No word yet on when they will return.

6. How did classified files end up on Paula Broadwell’s computer?

As the investigation heated up, Broadwell voluntarily turned her laptop over to the FBI. Agents found classified documents on her computer. They questioned both Broadwell and Petraeus about whether he had passed the information to her, and both denied his involvement even as they confessed to having an affair. Investigators seemed satisfied with their responses and agreed Petraeus hadn’t committed any crimes. They decided not to go forward with any charges. It remains unclear how she got the information and what state secrets she’s privy to, though she did give a speech in October that included a few details about the consulate attack in Benghazi that hadn’t been made public.