Told friend in private letter.
Realizing it is always the first step. Former CIA director David Petraeus admitted that he “screwed up royally,” according to a newly-released letter to an old army friend. Petraeus stepped down earlier this month after admitting to an extramarital affair—a confession that set off a media frenzy surrounding the woman he had affair with, Paula Broadwell, and a suspected third woman, Jill Kelley, whose emails with Petraeus’s successor at NATO are also under scrutiny. “I paid the price (appropriately) and I sought to do the right thing at the end of the day,” Petraeus wrote in the Nov. 20th hand-written letter. Petraeus also indicated that he will stay in his marriage with wife Holly, writing “Team Petreaus will survive though [I] have obviously created an enormous difficulty for us.”
The general nominated to head NATO command—who was briefly ensnared in the Petraeus scandal—has not yet confirmed he will withdraw, but names of four possible replacements have surfaced, including the Marines commandant and the chief of U.S. Fleet Forces Command.
With President Obama’s first choice to be the next supreme allied commander of NATO expected to take his name out of consideration, a shortlist of generals and admirals to take his place is already circulating at the Pentagon.
Marine Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, in Washington in March 2012. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
NBC News and other outlets Thursday reported that Gen. John Allen is likely to withdraw his nomination to be supreme allied commander in Europe out of concern that emails he sent to Tampa socialite Jill Kelley would be made public in a confirmation process.
Pentagon spokesman Lt. Colonel Steven Warren said Thursday, “It’s my understanding that General Allen has not made a decision yet on this.” Other administration officials said Allen, who just finished his tour as commander of the allied mission in Afghanistan, will be speaking to President Obama on Friday to convey his final decision.
If Allen bows out of the process, the shortlist for generals and admirals to take over NATO forces centers around four names so far. These include Adm. William Gortney, the commander of the U.S. Fleet Forces Command; Vice Adm. Robert Harward, the current deputy commander of Central Command; Gen. Robert W. Cone, the commander of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command; and the commandant of the Marine Corps, James Amos.
Allen himself was the victim of bad luck as commander in Afghanistan. Not only did he have to command the war after Obama decided to accelerate the withdrawal of U.S. troops and pursue often elusive negotiations with the Taliban, but Allen also was briefly ensnared in the sex scandal that sank the career of former CIA director and four-star general David Petraeus. Last month the Pentagon cleared Allen of any wrongdoing in connection with his emails with Jill Kelley. The White House also proceeded with his nomination. On Wednesday, though, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta spoke with Allen and told reporters he urged him to take his time to make a decision.
Now that Jill Kelley has broken her silence, David Petraeus’s former gal pal could be next. Howard Kurtz on Broadwell’s media strategy—and whether she’ll be able to resume her career.
Paula Broadwell could be next to venture into shark-infested media waters.
Paula Broadwell gets into her vehicle on Lexington Avenue in Charlotte, N.C. on Nov. 19, 2012. (Nell Redmond/AP)
Now that Jill Kelley has broken her silence in a Daily Beast interview, the question naturally arises whether David Petraeus’s former mistress might do the same.
People familiar with her thinking tell me the answer is yes.
Broadwell plans to answer questions about the Petraeus mess in a limited way, they say, as a way of putting the sordid controversy behind her.
The goal for the foreseeable future, they say, is for Broadwell to be able to step back into the public square and resume her career. She essentially dropped out of sight after the scandal exploded and Petraeus was forced to resign as CIA director.
The woman dragged into the Petraeus scandal tells Howard Kurtz that her life is now a nightmare. She says she didn’t press charges against Paula Broadwell and never exchanged 30,000 emails with a top general.
Jill Kelley was not the first to see the anonymous email that would rupture her comfortable life as a wealthy Tampa socialite who forged friendships with two top American generals.
She learned of the mysterious message from her husband, Scott, who opened the note on his iPhone, under the Yahoo account they share, as he was about to board a plane.
Jill Kelley with her husband, Scott, and their three children. (Jill Kelley)
Kelley says she was “terrified” late last summer when he told her about the email. In that note and the barrage that followed, “there was blackmail, extortion, threats,” Kelley told me in her first interview since the David Petraeus scandal erupted, breaking a silence of nearly three months.
These emails, as Kelley would later learn along with the rest of the world, were from Paula Broadwell, whose affair with Petraeus triggered his resignation as CIA director. But the writer was so ambiguous, says Kelley, that “I didn’t even know it was a female.”
Contradicting virtually every published account of the saga, Kelley indicates that the anonymous emails did not warn her to stay away from Petraeus, as is commonly assumed. And yet the press depicted the two of them as “romantic rivals. Think how bizarre that is,” Kelley says.
The general and others overthrew the old guard and changed the American way of war, but will their revolution stand? John Barry on Fred Kaplan’s new book—and Petraeus’s legacy after his sudden departure.
“Let us admit it fairly, as a business people should.
We have had no end of a lesson: it will do us no end of good.”
Former U.S. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus in Kandahar, Afghanistan, July 4, 2011. (Haraz N. Ghanbari/U.S. Navy via Getty)
Rudyard Kipling’s verdict on the Boer War—Britain’s 1899–1902 assault on the Dutch-Afrikaner settlers declaring independence in South Africa—can stand as an interim verdict on America’s expeditions into Iraq and Afghanistan. These are military and political debacles to rival the Boer War. Iraq lurches sullenly toward civil war or dictatorship; the Afghan elite prepare for America’s withdrawal by sending out so much cash that a special channel at Kabul airport handles the stuffed suitcases.
Where did it all go wrong? Unraveling the decade of America’s wars since 9/11 is already a historical cottage industry. Multiple memoirs, at least three serious efforts at historical reconstruction, half a dozen narrative accounts, a rising pile of combat memories transmuted into novels. It’s an outpouring utterly different from the stunned silence that followed Vietnam, and America is the healthier for it.
Fred Kaplan’s new book goes over this war-torn terrain from a different perspective. Just over 20 years ago, Kaplan produced The Wizards of Armageddon, chronicling the evolution of America’s nuclear weapons strategy after Hiroshima. There is no lack of tomes on this topic, but Kaplan’s account remains essential reading because he reconstructed a debate as a narrative driven by the lives and views of the participants. In The Insurgents, Kaplan does the same for Iraq and Afghanistan—using personal narratives to explore, as his subtitle says, “David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War." Kaplan’s subject is the counterinsurgency strategy midwifed by Petraeus: its creation, adoption, and what Iraq and Afghanistan have revealed about its limitations. For anyone interested in figuring out what went wrong, Kaplan is essential reading.
Forty years on, the passions of Vietnam have faded into history. Yet they’re seminal in the story Kaplan reconstructs. For the U.S. Army, Vietnam was so traumatic—such a humiliation—that, in its aftermath, the Army leadership of the time drew one overarching lesson: Never Again. The Army’s job was to prepare for the Big One: the armored showdown against the Soviets on the plains of central Europe. That war, thankfully, never came. But Desert Storm, the expulsion of Saddam Hussein’s forces from Kuwait in 1991, was essentially a dry run: the divisions and air wings came to Saudi Arabia from Europe; the tactics were those of “AirLand Battle,” the fighting doctrine devised for Europe. Afterward, as the collapse of the Soviet Empire brought defense budget cuts to shrink the U.S. Army, the officers retained were those who had done well in that comfortably conventional conflict.
For “alleged acts of cyberstalking.”
Turns out she really does win at everything. The Justice Department announced on Tuesday that Paula Broadwell, General David Petraeus’s mistress, will not be facing charges for the alleged online stalking of a “romantic rival,” who many thought to be Tampa Bay socialite Jill Kelley. The cyberstalking investigation began when Kelley reported to the FBI threatening emails from an account linked back to Broadwell. In a letter obtained by the AP from Broadwell's lawyer, U.S. Attorney Robert O'Neill confirmed that all charges related to the “alleged acts of cyberstalking,” have been dropped. Petraeus resigned in November after admitting to an extramarital affair with Broadwell, the author of his biography All In: The Education of General David Petraeus.
The general’s friends and media fans are painting Paula Broadwell as a conniving femme fatale. Her supporters in the military say they’re bashing a champion for women.
“The bitch set me up.”
This July 13, 2011, photo made available on the International Security Assistance Force's Flickr website shows the former Commander of International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan Gen. Davis Petraeus, left, shaking hands with Paula Broadwell, co-author of "All In: The Education of General David Petraeus."As details emerge about Petraeus' extramarital affair with his biographer, Broadwell, including a second woman who allegedly received threatening emails from the author, members of Congress say they want to know exactly when the now ex-CIA director and retired general popped up in the FBI inquiry, whether national security was compromised and why they weren't told sooner. (ISAF / AP Photo)
Marion Barry said it outright; the army of Petraeus worshippers trying to exonerate their hero have merely implied that their great one’s fall was caused by a conniving woman.
Yesterday, Petraeus pal Brig. Gen. James Shelton took it to a new level, casting the 60-year-old general as his biographer’s helpless boy toy: “He was the innocent one when it came to relationships,” Shelton told the Daily Mail. As for the 20-years-younger Broadwell, he surmised: “She’s… a savvy woman. She’s not a kid. In a lot of ways, I think she knows more about the world than Dave—I’m talking about sex.”
Shelton is more than an officer, but he’s definitely no gentleman. It takes two to tango, except apparently in the alternate universe where the Petraeus fanboys reside.
The New York Post reported that in a phone call to them, “Shelton put the blame on fellow West Point graduate Broadwell… for the affair and speculated that Petraeus, whom he described as naive, fell for her charms …”
Sherman philandered during the Civil War. Pershing had a girlfriend in Paris. Eisenhower romanced his driver. None of that affected their skills or ability to win wars. The inquisitive, puritanical fuss over Petraeus’s and Allen’s sex lives is unjustified, says Andrew Roberts.
How fortunate that Americans didn’t adopt the same inquisitive and puritanical approach to their generals’ sex lives in the past that they so obviously love indulging in today. For if they had, the history of the Republic would have been far less happy and far more blood-stained. Great generals, indeed great spy chiefs, have been expected to exhibit many magnificent qualities historically, but sexual fidelity rightly hasn’t been prominent among them, at least in wartime. The media witch hunt against Gens. David Petraeus and John Allen is yet another indication that America still doesn’t see the Global War on Terror as a proper war, analogous to the great conflicts of the past.
The Civil War saw the sexual philandering of Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman during his long and frequent absences from his wife on campaign. His latest biography, The White Tecumseh by Stanley Hirshson, quotes Sherman’s youngest son saying that his parents got along well enough when they were together, although Sherman always signed his letters to his wife with the hardly affectionate: “W.T. Sherman.” On the Confederate side, Gen. Earl Van Dorn was shot and killed by a man who thought Van Dorn was having an affair with his wife. Thomas Lowry’s book The Story the Soldiers Wouldn’t Tell: Sex in the Civil War instances several other such high-rank escapades, yet nowhere is it alleged that adulterers make worse generals.
In the First World War, Gen. Jack Pershing, the commander in chief of the American Expeditionary Force, had a girlfriend in Paris despite being putatively engaged to George Patton’s sister at the time, an affair that Patton dutifully covered up for his commanding officer. If every American general who strayed into Parisian pleasure palaces during that conflict had been held up to the level of obloquy presently directed at Petraeus and Allen, it’s hard to see how the war could have been conducted to its successful conclusion.
The Second World War saw the notorious philanderer Ernest J. King in charge of the U.S. Navy, one of the greatest admirals in American history. It would not have occurred to President Roosevelt to sack him on moral grounds, not least because the commander in chief had himself had an affair with Lucy Mercer. Meanwhile, the architect of Operation Overlord, Dwight D. Eisenhower, was conducting an affair with his attractive young chauffeuse Kay Summersby which even involved her sitting in on dinners with British field marshals.
Nor was it confined to soldiers; Major Gen. William J. “Wild Bill” Donovan was the head of the wartime Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the forerunner of the CIA. He was America’s top spook for several years, her most decorated war hero of the Great War, and a serial adulterer. The true value of Donovan’s work was also seen at the time of Operation Overlord, when the OSS and the British Special Operations executive dropped no fewer than 10,000 tons of weaponry and equipment to the French Resistance, which put much of it to good use in slowing down the German counterattack. As he watched the D-Day landings from the deck of the heavy cruiser the USS Tuscaloosa, which was giving but also receiving fire off Utah Beach, Donovan loved every moment. Even though J. Edgar Hoover at the FBI had files bulging with details of Donovan’s affairs, the United States kept him in place because—like Petraeus and Allen today—he was simply the best man for a difficult and complex wartime job.
It is fatuous to argue that Petraeus or Allen would ever have given away any secrets to the Russian, Chinese, or Iranian intelligence services if an attempt were made to blackmail them over their private lives. Petraeus’s resignation was the right thing to do because he couldn’t expect underlings to cleave to a standard of behavior that proved beyond him, but let’s hear no more of that moronic canard that, “A man prepared to betray his wife would also betray his country.” In trying to persuade young soldiers to study history, Gen. Allen says, “There’s no excuse for not having a 5,000-year-old mind.” We ought to extend that wisdom to him and his present predicament, because history shows that there are huge numbers of soldiers and spies who have indeed, sadly, betrayed their wives, but who would never betray their country.
From Hillary Clinton to Silda Wall Spitzer, we have seen plenty of political “Good Wives” stoically survive on the public stage. Now it’s a husband’s turn as Scott Broadwell weathers the fallout of his wife’s affair with Gen. David Petraeus. By Michael Daly.
Call him the Good Husband, seemingly as steadfast beside his errant mate as is the proverbial Good Wife.
In this Nov. 4, 2012, photograph, Paula and Scott Broadwell are seen at the Patriot Gala, the annual black-tie event at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C. (Daniel Coston, Charlotte Observer / Getty Images)
We had Hillary Clinton and Silda Wall Spitzer. Now we have Scott Broadwell.
The more traditional male response would have been to convert sudden hurt to instant rage and demand in essence, “How dare you do this to the king?”
And to make it worse, to make it at once excruciatingly intimate and horrifyingly public, the news of Paula Broadwell’s affair with General David Petraeus first reached Scott when he and his wife were celebrating her 40th birthday with a romantic getaway at the cosy Middleton Inn in Virginia.
After a day of riding bikes and sipping champagne and a night of luxuriating in a room with a four-poster bed and a working fireplace, Scott suddenly learned what the whole world also learned. The setting could only have made the shock more unbearable, but there have been no reports of shouts or abuse as the couple abruptly departed the inn. The staff afterward only recalled that the Broadwells looked decidedly unhappy.
David Petraeus didn’t merely get caught in a tawdry sex scandal—he failed the soldiers who trusted him with their lives. Iraq war veteran Brian Mockenhaupt, author of the new Byliner Original, The Living and the Dead, calls the former general to account.
In the spring of 2011, I was embedded with a platoon of Marines at Patrol Base Dakota, an abandoned mud-walled farming compound in northern Marjah, in southern Afghanistan. I slept in the courtyard, on a cot under a canopy of camouflage netting, and had just woken up one morning in early May when Sergeant Tom Whorl, the platoon sergeant, stepped from his room and walked toward a row of wooden outhouses. “Hey,” he called to me, “bin Laden’s dead.”
A US Marine walks to his patrol of Marjah district in Helmand Province on May 25, 2011. (Massoud Hossaini / AFP / Getty Images))
The Marines discussed this for two or three minutes and made a few jokes.
“There should be birds here to take us home,” Sgt. Jake Powell said.
“Yeah,” Cpl. Helmut Eggl said. “War’s over.”
And that was it. Conversation shifted to maps and radio frequencies as the Marines readied for the day’s first patrol into the surrounding farmland and villages, where they had been battling the Taliban since arriving at Patrol Base Dakota four months earlier.
Nomination as top NATO general still on hold.
Nothing to see here. Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, returned to his post on Wednesday, a week after his name became ensnared in the ongoing investigation of former CIA director David Petraeus. Petraeus, Allen’s predecessor, resigned on Nov. 9, citing an extramarital affair with a woman later to be unmasked as his biographer, Paula Broadwell, who allegedly threatened a second woman, Tampa socialite Jill Kelley. Allen is currently under investigation for sending tens of thousands of “potentially inappropriate” emails to Kelley. Since then, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has put on hold Allen’s nomination for commander of the U.S. European Command and top NATO general.
The high-profile attorney marks her entry into the Petraeus affair by appearing with Jill Kelley’s sister, Natalie Khawam, at a D.C. press conference where the lawyer mostly had no comment and her client cried and talked about how close she and her twin are.
Attorney Gloria Allred conducts a press conference with her client Natalie Khawam (left) at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Washington, Nov. 20, 2012. (Paul J. Richards / Getty Images)
The well-known lawyer spoke at a press conference in Washington on Tuesday with Natalie Khawam, the twin sister of Jill Kelley, a key figure in the affair-email debacle that led to Gen. David Petraeus’s resignation as head of the CIA.
Allred held Khawan’s arm as they shuffled into a basement conference room at the Ritz-Carlton. “We are here today to help the public understand who Natalie Khawam really is, to correct some misconceptions about her, to explain what her plan of action is, and to discuss why Petraeus and his wife provided affidavits in her [custody] battle,” Allred began.
Her last talking point was the main reason reporters showed up at the conference, though they didn’t learn much more than they already knew about Khawan’s relationship with Petraeus, which Allred described as “social.” Instead of going into detail on that front, Allred stressed that Khawam is a “loving, caring mother” and a “loving, supportive sister,” before listing a few of her academic and career credentials: two master’s degrees and success as a “whistleblowing attorney.”
So why do we care about all of this? What role does the sister of the other, other woman play in the Petraeus scandal?
The attorney general defends his decision to delay informing Obama about the Petraeus probe. But several ex-Justice officials think Holder erred. James Warren reports.
When Attorney General Eric Holder kept word from President Obama about investigating then-Central Intelligence Agency Director David Petraeus, he took what he deemed a high road in following protocols governing when it’s appropriate to inform the White House of criminal probes.
Attorney General Eric Holder speaks at a news conference in New Orleans on Nov. 15, 2012. (Sean Gardner / Getty Images)
He might also have been displaying lousy judgment, according to several former high-ranking Justice Department officials.
“Bad judgment on a matter of large consequence,” says one former high-ranking department official.
Several former Justice officials, all Democrats, agreed. All declined to have their names used. And they neither disparaged Holder’s honesty nor impugned his motives. But while they conceded that a strict constructionist take on department rules or perceived policy could justify not telling Obama far earlier, to a person these sources feel the Petraeus case underscores the evolution of needlessly rigid practice that ill serves any White House.
There is a long and tawdry history of politicization of the relationship between the White House and both the Justice Department and FBI. The most vivid offenders included longtime FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, who illegally collected personal information on individuals for political reasons, and President Richard Nixon, whose attempts to misuse the CIA and FBI were central to the Watergate scandal.
Reports often refer to Paula Broadwell as a mentee of David Petraeus. But why does an accomplished woman need a mentor? And what does mentoring mean these days anyway?
Of the compounding mysteries of the Gen. David Petraeus affair (Why was the president informed of the investigation so late? How do people in Tampa become honorary consuls of the South Korean government?), the most confounding question also is perhaps the most overlooked. Pundits and reporters habitually declare that Paula Broadwell, Petraeus’s biographer and sometime paramour, was not only bedding her hero but being “mentored” by him. What is not often asked, though, is why a hugely accomplished woman—with a credulous husband and two kids—needed a mentor in the first place.
Paula Broadwell holds a drink in the kitchen of her brother’s house in Washington on Tuesday. (Cliff Owen / AP Photo)
Those of us guiltily following the sordid twists and ribald turns of this story are aware of Broadwell’s mantel full of trophies. She was high-school homecoming queen, attended West Point, competes in triathlons, received a master’s degree from the University of Denver, and worked toward a second one from Harvard. Well, yes, she was asked to leave Harvard’s doctoral program (resuming her studies at King’s College in London), but how many people do you know clever enough to be kicked out of America’s most prestigious university? And according to a report in Politico, Broadwall even considered running for Senate in North Carolina, an idea that Petraeus apparently mentored her out of.
Despite this rather impressive résumé, Broadwell decided she needed career guidance from the man tasked with executing the troop surge in Iraq and commanding American forces in Afghanistan. Here is Broadwell speaking at the University of Denver, discussing time she spent with Petraeus before he took control of the CIA: “I had access to everything. It was my responsibility not to leak it, not to violate my mentor, if you will, I was writing about a very close mentor.” On another occasion, she described Petraeus as an “academic mentor of mine, if you will.”
Well no, I won’t.
It’s unclear what the word “mentor” means in this context, beyond hero worship, reckless infidelity, and the purloining of classified material. Washington’s political culture is a thicket of euphemism, and it seems that being “mentored” has become synonymous with aggressive social climbing. And here I was, assuming that the average mentor is an idealistic, bearded Oberlin graduate intervening on behalf of a disadvantaged teenager. Apparently, everyone has a mentor these days.
When we lost our CIA director, we lost four decades of expertise at a time when we need that most. Diane Dimond on the high cost of a scandal.
It’s not just David Petraeus and his former mistress Paula Broadwell who are the big losers in this unfolding scandal—America has lost too.
Brooks Kraft / Corbis
This country has invested heavily in developing Petraeus into the successful and well-decorated military leader he became. And a decades-long ascension to the elite branches of government doesn’t come cheap. Look at Petraeus’s schooling alone: four years at West Point, where he graduated in 1974 in the top 5 percent of his class; Ranger School; the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College; and Princeton University, where he earned both a master’s and a Ph.D. in international relations.
“Adjusted for inflation, it’s more than a million dollars just on his education,” retired Maj. Mike Lyons tells The Daily Beast. Lyons is a senior fellow at the Truman National Security Project, a Washington-based national-security leadership institute, and a West Point graduate. He says the government pays the freight for a cadet’s continuing education, no matter how long it lasts. “And, he’d be getting his military pay at the same time he went to school,” Lyons added. During Petraeus’s years at Princeton in the mid-’80s, for example, Lyons estimates his take-home military pay would have been between $50,000 and $60,000 per year. “Remember too, a military person also gets to pay less at the commissary (for groceries and other necessities), and they get free medical and housing or a housing allowance.”
Of course, there’s a reason we invest in brilliant young men like David Petraeus. The country has gotten a considerable return on a considerable investment. Among his long list of accomplishments, Petraeus commanded a division that helped liberate Iraq. He steered the course for America’s exit from Afghanistan. And drawing from his study of the Vietnam War, he developed the “Petraeus doctrine,” a deft counterinsurgency strategy that combines troop surges, on-the-ground public relations with locals, media management, and political savvy. While his tactics have been criticized, it’s also been seen as effective—and it’s sure to be taught at military academies if it isn’t already.
Then, after 37 years of service to the U.S. military, Petraeus resigned in August 2011 to take on another public-service job: head of the CIA. At his retirement ceremony, Adm. Michael Mullen, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called Petraeus one of the nation’s great battle captains and compared him with Ulysses S. Grant, John Pershing, George Marshall, and Dwight Eisenhower. Some politicos firmly believe President Obama appointed the popular general to the CIA’s top spot as a way to keep him off the Eisenhower trajectory—the one that leads to the White House.
Having trouble keeping track of the saga of David Petraeus's affair with Paula Broadwell? The Daily Beast's timeline has you covered.
On this week's Spin Cycle, Howard Kurtz chats with the longtime Slate editor, who compares the Petraeus story with Bill Clinton's Lewinsky scandal: it was a 'grotesque thing that went out of control, but was so much fun.'
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With David Petraeus out as head of the CIA, Michael J. Morell—a 32-year agency veteran—takes over at the top.
Diane Dimond reports on what we know about Gen. Petraeus’s biographer.
It's a joke-off! Watch Jimmy Fallon, Jon Stewart, Seth Meyers and more weigh in on the general.
From suave Jack Ryan to smarmy Eugene Kittridge, potential candidates for America's next top spook.