David Petraeus

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.

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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.