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The Fall of Petraeus: A CIA Coup?
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It now seems clear what occurred to bring down CIA Director David Petraeus: some months ago his paramour Paula Broadwell sent threatening emails to another woman warning her to keep away from Petraeus, seemingly unaware that computers and emails have signatures that can be identified by investigators. The woman, identified by the Associated Press as Jill Kelley, became alarmed over being threatened and notified the FBI, which got into the emails to discover that there was an affair in progress, leading to an investigation of Petraeus to determine if any classifed information had been leaked. Broadwell was subsequently interviewed by FBI agents, as was Petraeus two weeks ago. The Justice Department informed Director of National Intelligence James Clapper about the affair on election night, which led to a phone call to Petraeus. Clapper recommended that he resign and informed the White House. Petraeus met with the president on Thursday and submitted his resignation, which was accepted on Friday.

Adultery is not exactly uncommon at CIA, but the Director operates at a much more political level than do the other ranks. There are some interesting questions being raised about the timing. Petraeus knew he would be exposed when he was interviewed by the FBI, if not before through Broadwell. Due to its sensitivity, Attorney General Eric Holder, to whom the FBI reports, had to know about the investigation as soon as the link to Petraeus was established, and he must have also known about the adultery. Is it plausible that he did not inform the president? Was it Petraeus’s personal decision to wait until after the election before submitting his resignation?

There are also the inevitable CIA rumors that are going around in the former spook community this weekend. To set up the interview between Petraeus and the FBI, the CIA Office of Security must have become involved. One suspects that the security people must have already known about the affair, as the DCI operates within a tight security cocoon. If they knew, others in the Agency also knew. Contrary to some recent press coverage, Petraeus was not very well liked by many at CIA. Former military officers in general are disliked pro forma, but Petraeus was particularly resented because he was perceived as moving forward with the paramilitarization of the Agency. He recently requested more drones and the paramilitary share of a shrinking overall budget continues to grow. This has particularly miffed the Agency’s former elite, the Clandestine Services, a group well versed in bringing about regime change within CIA itself. I personally recall how they mounted a campaign and forced out the Reagan/Bill Casey selection as Director of Operations Max Hugel back in 1981. They also contributed to the fall of Director John Deutch. Agency spies have long watched their money and influence shrink and might have figured out some way to help things along with the objective of bidding fond farewell to General Petraeus. This is just speculation, mind you.

(Republished from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: CIA, David Petraeus 
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  1. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    I don’t care how many women he had an affair with. Is he going to testify next week? – that’s the important question.

  2. Petraeus always struck me as one of those bootielicking backstabbers, i.e., politicians, that float to the top in many organizations. No doubt he is smart & capable but how could he conduct himself so recklessly while in such a sensitive position? Was he seduced by the constant adulation, the fawning praise heaped on him wherever he went? Did the conman con himself? Or, was he just another casualty of the Lisa Nowak syndrome?

  3. It’s no speculation. I’ve read what happen to Hugel (although he should have never been appointed to the DO in the first place) and I know what these people are capable of. This affair easily could have remained a secret. It was not for a reason.

  4. Justin Raimondo over at suggests this was some sort of “honeypot” to get rid of Petraeus…possibly by some neocons. He lays out the connections in his latest post.

    Personally, while I think that’s possible, I note that Jill Kelley is considerably more attractive than Petraeus’ wife. And Broadwell had to have some reason to start sending those emails. So my guess is Petraeus was screwing both Kelley and Broadwell.

  5. We are being sold that some affair is all this was about with the thinking that an affair could lead to black mail. But if adultery is common in the lower ranks with out being considered a security risk, then what makes a more senior person in a leadership position no less more vulnerable to black mail? Is the higher up fired for adultery because hes more likely to be blackmailed because he is more likely to be fired?

    Something does not make sense about this seemimg double standard between playboys of different pay grades. Is the problem that the leaders are too ambitious politically to be able to risk a personal scandal that at worst would lead to single living for a less political man? If so, wouldn’t the problem be that we have been promoting the wrong people for the wrong reasons?

    Perhaps ambition is not a supreme virtue.

  6. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Behind Petraeus’s Resignation
    November 10, 2012

    Exclusive: The resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus over an extramarital affair marks a stunning reversal for the longtime media darling. But some in President Obama’s inner circle are not displeased the neocon-friendly ex-general is gone, reports Robert Parry.

    The messy departure of CIA Director David Petraeus over an extramarital affair removes the last high-ranking neoconservative holdover from George W. Bush’s administration and gives the reelected President Barack Obama more maneuvering room to negotiate a settlement over Iran’s nuclear program.

    BEHIND OBAMA’S BACK: As Bob Woodward reported in his book, Obama’s Wars, it was Bush’s old team that made sure Obama was given no option other than to escalate troop levels in Afghanistan substantially. The Bush holdovers also lobbied for the troop increase behind Obama’s back.

    According to Woodward’s book, Gates, Petraeus and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen, refused to even prepare an early-exit option that Obama had requested. Instead, they offered up only plans for their desired escalation of about 40,000 troops.

  7. Jim Bovard says: • Website

    Phil, what do you think of the “honeypot” thesis?

    I was struck by news accounts about how Petraeus obsessed on whether people could run a six minute mile. Maybe he didn’t have enough energy left after workouts for clear thinking.

  8. Jim – I think this is a straighforward case of powerful aging man meets ambitious young woman with a predictable result. The honeypot theory currently going the rounds is extremely convoluted and it supposes that the Israel lobby or some similar entity planned this thing to punish Petraeus for a single comment he made and then repudiated some time ago. It’s far more likely that career oriented enemies within the Agency somehow got their hooks into this and helped it along. The fall of Petraeus does indeed demonstrate that exercise is bad for you. Didn’t McChrystal also run something like twenty miles a day and sleep for only ten minutes? Can’t imagine Patton engaging in any of that kind of nonsense.

  9. Jim Bovard says: • Website

    Broadwell bragged that she had been a “sponsored tri-athlete” in Colorado.

    So did Coors give her \$10 to wear one of their baseball caps during a race?

  10. What about the classified information found on Broadwell’s computer? From this morning’s New York Times:

    “F.B.I. agents interviewed Ms. Broadwell for the first time the week of Oct. 21, and she acknowledged the affair, a government official briefed on the matter said. She also voluntarily gave the agency her computer. In a search, the agents discovered several classified documents, which raised the additional question of whether Mr. Petraeus had given them to her. She said that he had not. Agents interviewed Mr. Petraeus the following week. He also admitted to the affair but said he had not given any classified documents to her. The agents then interviewed Ms. Broadwell again on Friday, Nov. 2, the official said.”

    And now we have video of Broadwell speaking about the alleged prisoners held in the Benghazi facility.

    The neocon connections are “convoluted,” but that doesn’t mean they have no basis in reality. Also we now know “conservative thinktanks” were (are?) embedded in Afghanistan, although the Times report doesn’t say which ones.

    When the CIA Director has a “secret” affair, alarm bells ought to ring.

  11. I too thought Obama made a mistake by naming a general (or former general) to head the CIA.

  12. angellight – – Interesting comment. I think Robert Gates and Petraeus helped the neocons continue their false narrative that the “surge” in Iraq was a “success”. And it was used to cause Obama to blunder by trebling the US military presence in Afghanistan – – at huge cost.

  13. I hear you Justin but there are lots of reasons why Broadwell might have classified docs, possibly connected to her bio of the general etc. She clearly was working in many places where she would have had access to such material and it is not unheard of for people with clearances – which I believe she had/has – to take things home.

    AEI did indeed have people in both Iraq and Afghanistan. I have not seen the Broadwell video you refer to – where can one find it?

  14. Just saw the video Justin

    It is really bizarre. I don’t know what to make of it. Why would she go public with something like that even if it is true? Is she trying to demonstrate to the audience what a player she is…dunno.

  15. Actually, I think there was some reporting on the prisoners-in-the-consulate angle before she spoke — which, I know, is even more bizarre. I saw the link earlier this morning but I’ll have to look for it now.

  16. King David of the COIN-dinistas is dead! Down with the king.

    When I heard of this, I said thank you Lord, this almost makes up for the election disaster.

    This man was danger to accumulate even more power in 2013 in Obama’s cabinet re-shuffle and forbid it, wind up on a Republican ticket in 2016. What a deliverance.

  17. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    About the CIA-coup theory, didn’t Petreaus just recover from prostrate cancer in 2009? Doesn’t one’s ability to go all in become compromised as a side-effect of that illness?

  18. I would only buy the coup conytention if Miss Broadwell, turned out to be a CIA oerative with not an ounce of loyalty in her bones.

    The machinations of disgruntled CIA operatives did no his behavioral choice make.

    I have been a huge fan celibacy for longer than most people on the site have been alive (a bold assertion) —–

    But if Miss Broadwell filled my empty spaces of ego, self doubt, laudable service ribbons, especially following an afternoon five mile run, all a mist and well . . . my wife to be had better be close by covering my six.

    You spend enough time in any organization, even short time, one discovers they are rife with rumor and truth of who is with whom and when — I have no doubt that GE has it’s Peyton place scenarios.

    We want our leaders to be consistant in word and deed — We need them to be. But throwing stones when it’s personal and deepl;y wounding to family and friend alike as they sift through those issues will not improve performance. As long as they weren’t exchanging secrets — none our business.She wasn’t in the Al Queada reserve foroces was she? Taliban? Another foreign threat? No?

    When they say threat of blackmail, I am sure they mean blackmail via the internal politics of the agency — and that is no secret.

    As facilitator training executives this is always a no no. Because they disrupt the organizations mission, environment, morale as well as the moral integrity of those involved.

  19. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    I was going over a CNN Petraeus/Boadwell timeline of events. This timeline stated that David and Paula first met in Spring of 2006 while she was at Harvard.

    What caught my eye was the timeline (CNN) also reported that Petraeus was diagnosed with prostate cancer in February of 2009, and received radiation treatment for two months shortly afterward.

    It is common knowledge that men who receive radiation treatment for prostate cancer are rendered impotent afterward for remainder of their lives.

    Therefore, my thinking is, if there was a physical relationship between these two military aficionados it may have taken place while he was still in service. This timing would surely put him on the “court martial list” even retiring.

    The CNN timeline then speculates that the affair started some two months after Petraeus was sworn in as CIA director on September 6, 2011 – around David Petraeus’s birthday on November 7, 2011.

    Doesn’t anyone else see the Elephant in the room?

    To make the connections of all these players more suspect of a cover up of a cover up of a cover up – Jill Kelley’s husband is an oncologist surgeon, who appears to be in debt up to his scalpel. And the Kelleys were close friends of the Petraeus’s – close enough to be invited into their home on Christmas Day for festivities and Jill being mentioned in a blog hosted by his daughter.

    This all appears to me as a close knit clique of bosom military buddies who concocted a “cover story” in an attempt to protect Petraeus from the impeding coup by the CIA – where he was sensing that a black op blowback was being planned that had his name on it – and all he could do was pre-empt the worst case fall out – far more disgraceful than a manufactured sordid affair. Petraeus may have pre-empted an attempt to set him up for conspiring to execute a military coup against Obama’s administration – and he orchestrated his own way out of the CIA with a sordid tale of infidelity that in physical medical reality may have been nothing more than a fantasy and at worst, cyber-sex.

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