Why Was the FBI Doing the Investigation that Led to the Petraeus Affair Anyway?

The Wall Street Journal notes a possibly inappropriately close relationship between the woman whose complaints of harassing emails began the investigation that led to Petraeus' career-ending affair and the FBI agent doing the investigating:

The FBI agent who started the case was a friend of Jill Kelley, the Tampa woman who received harassing, anonymous emails that led to the probe, according to officials. Ms. Kelley, a volunteer who organizes social events for military personnel in the Tampa area, complained in May about the emails to a friend who is an FBI agent. That agent referred it to a cyber crimes unit, which opened an investigation.

However, supervisors soon became concerned that the initial agent might have grown obsessed with the matter, and prohibited him from any role in the investigation, according to the officials.

The FBI officials found that he had sent shirtles s pictures of himself to Ms. Kelley, according to the people familiar with the probe.

And Wired notes that it seems pretty unusual for the FBI to launch a big investigation into someone sending harassing emails.  Which, if this Daily Beast account is correct and thorough about the actual content of the emails, were pretty mildly harassing anyway. And remember, that the mess turned out to involve the head of the CIA was a later revelation, if the story we are being told is accurate:

The case shows just how easy it is to discover the personal connections that can unmask anonymous parties. But the Petraeus affair is as much an outlier as an exemplar. The FBI rarely, if ever, gets involved when one person is harassing another online.

“I’m not aware of any case when the FBI has gotten involved in a case of online harassment,” Justin Patchin, an associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, said. ”The FBI definitely wouldn’t get involved in your Joe Schmoe love triangle.”

The affair began to unravel after the Florida woman, Jill Kelley, contacted an FBI friend after receiving threatening and harassing e-mails from an anonymous person who accused her of flirting with a man who was not identified in the e-mails. 

Ah, it's good to have "friends" in the FBI I guess. Too bad Petraeus didn't, it seems.

Associated Press on the FBI's power to read your emails, and Petraeus'.

Below, Ed Krayewski on "wild" theories about what might have been going on with this whole Petraeus thing.

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  • Paul.||

    I think it's just safe to assume that Brack Obama is reading your email. Act accordingly.

    Hi Bob!

  • SweatingGin||

    FBI raided mistress's house. Says it was consensual.

  • Lewisite||

    "Says it was consensual"

    It's not rape, if she can't say no.

    \twirls moustache

  • Auric Demonocles||

    She was not unresponsive.

  • Lewisite||

    And nothing else happened...the end.

  • free2booze||

    Was it legitimate raid?

  • Russell||

    How can anyone expect the Republic's secrets to survive if its chief intelligencer cannot hide a mistress or two?

    This debacle can only serve to demoralize the youth of the nation.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    There was a guy sending me harassing emails asking for $3 every time, but he stopped about a week ago. Maybe I should report him to the FBI?

  • Auric Demonocles||

    No, don't report him unless he sends you emails from the middle of the road during rush hour stoplight traffic. But don't give him the $3 either. If you have to give him something, give him leftovers.

  • Generic Stranger||

    Goddamn Loch Ness monster!

  • General Butt Naked||

    It's the paperboy, pay yer damn bills already, deadbeat!

  • Sevo||


  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Not sure if you guys just didn't get the joke or you're massively pulling my leg.

  • Brian Doherty||

    If you have a "friend" in the FBI of the type inclined to send you shirtless photos, then sure...

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Almost, but I think she's with Border Patrol.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    They haven't been patrolling their borders very effectively, if you know what I mean.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Why Was the FBI Doing the Investigation that Led to the Petraeus Affair Anyway?

    It all started with a picture. A picture that had no accompanying text.

  • cdh3021||

    Thank you! I'm glad someone thinks it's good to have "friends" in the FBI besides me.

  • Lewisite||


  • Randian||

    A licky boom boom down!

  • cdh3021||

    Everone is missing the point. Some chick had a "friend" in the FBI and had him do an unauthorized ILLEGAL (without probable cause) investigation that just happened to uncover an affair.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    Letterman: "Petraeus allegedly had sex with his biographer which means from now on he'll only be having sex with his autobiographer."

  • Tman||

    I doubt Dave wrote that, but it is pretty damn hilarious.

    Seriously though, Petreaus, was she really that hot?


  • Randian||

    If she was next to you all day every day, and you're in Afghanistan? Yeah, you would.

  • Tman||

    A couple times in Kandahar maybe, but clearly this came home with him. So I don't think it was like that.

    Under your scenario yeah, but I don't think this was the set up.

  • free2booze||

    Have you seen Petreaus's wife?

  • johnl||

    Every moderately in shape woman 20 years younger than X is really hot enough to cause problems for X.

  • ||

    And when X is 27 y/o like me, you better believe that will cause problems.

  • Ted S.||

    [pedantic bastard mode]

    I'd bet Petraeus' memoirs/autobiography, if the book ever comes out, would be of the "as told to" type.

    [/pedantic bastard mode]

  • VG Zaytsev||

    The FBI officials found that he had sent shirtles s pictures of himself to Ms. Kelley, according to the people familiar with the probe.

    This sounds like a typical bullshit media smear.

    The implication is that the agent became obsessed with Ms Kelley after the investigation began and engaged in some wildly inappropriate flirting / harassment that cast doubt on his judgement.

    But, there is no timeline for when the topless photos were sent, or the context of those photos and the two of them were friends prior to the incident, which is the reason that an investigation began in the 1st place.

    So why the smear? Just to sex up the story or is it a further distraction from what is being hidden in plain sight?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    That's what he gets for being such a snitch.

  • free2booze||

    And there's more:

    The FBI probe into the sex scandal that prompted CIA Director David Petraeus to resign has expanded to ensnare Gen. John R. Allen, the commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, the Pentagon announced early Tuesday.

    If I were a conspiracy theorist, I'd say there is something bigger going on. In less than a month we've seen the "retirement" of Gen Carter Ham and David Petraeus, and active investigations against Adm. Charles Gaouette and now this guy.

  • VG Zaytsev||


    It's looking more and more like some kind of purge.

  • Invisible Finger||

    It's also how Obama won his Senate seat.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Kelley likely has a security clearance due to her working at Centcom. If someone with a security clearance suddenly starts getting threatening e-mails that seem to be specifically targetting them due to their work situation, it's not odd at all that the FBI would become involved to find out if it's some sort of foreign intelligence activity.


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