Questions mount on Petraeus affair probe

November 13, 2012 - 7:29:28 am

WASHINGTON: Pressure for a more detailed accounting of the affair that brought down CIA chief David Petraeus grew yesterday amid reports that senior FBI and Justice Department officials learned of it late last summer.

The New York Times, which disclosed the latest twist in the timeline, said it was unclear whether FBI Director Robert Mueller or Attorney General Eric Holder were informed at the time.

Key members of Congress demanded a fuller explanation of an affair that could have involved a national security breach, angrily complaining they were left in the dark until just before the scandal broke on Friday.

“It just doesn’t add up,” Peter King, the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, told CNN on Sunday. “I have real questions about this. I think a timeline has to be looked at and analysed to see what happened.”

Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, also said “absolutely” she would pursue why the FBI failed to notify leaders of the congressional oversight committees.

“We received no advanced notice. It was like a lightning bolt,” she said on Fox News Sunday.

Petraeus had been scheduled to testify Thursday at closed door  congressional inquiries on the September 11 attacks on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, but he now will be replaced by acting CIA Director Michael Morrell.

But Feinstein said the Senate Intelligence Committee could decide to ask Petraeus to testify.

The scandal has shocked and surprised friends and associates of the retired general, a celebrated military leader who played pivotal roles in the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan before assuming the helm of the CIA 14 months ago.

He admitted to the extramarital affair in a resignation message to the CIA’s work force on Friday, calling the lapse of judgment “unacceptable” for a husband and leader. He has been married to his wife Holly for 38 years.

President Barack Obama learned of it two days after the US elections, according to the White House, and accepted his resignation the following day.

In the US military, adultery can be considered a crime. As CIA director, Petraeus was a civilian but the potential security breach left him open to blackmail.

Steven Boylan, a retired army colonel and former Petraeus spokesman, said his former boss told him over the weekend that the affair with Paula Broadwell began about two months after he became CIA director and ended four months ago.