Susan Glasser and Peter Baker are veteran political journalists who closely covered the presidency of Donald Trump, he as the New York Times chief White House correspondent, she as a…
Fallout from the resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus. Challenges for the Obama administration as it builds a new team.
- Michael O'Hanlon Senior fellow and director of research of the foreign policy program at the Brookings Institution and co-author of "Bending History: Barack Obama's Foreign Policy."
- Evan Perez Reporter at The Wall Street Journal.
- Rachel Smolkin White House editor for Politico.
- Mark Jacobson Senior adviser at Truman National Security Project.
MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. David Petraeus resigned as director of the CIA last week after admitting he'd had an extramarital affair. The FBI investigation has now expanded to include Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan. And lawmakers have scheduled a hearing on the Petraeus investigation for tomorrow.
MS. DIANE REHMJoining me in the studio to talk about the fallout from the Petraeus resignation and challenges for the president in building a second term leadership team: Mark Jacobson of the Truman National Security Project, Evan Perez of The Wall Street Journal, Rachel Smolkin of Politico and Michael O'Hanlon of The Brookings Institution. Do join us with your comments, questions, 800-433-8850. Send your email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter. Good morning to all of you.
MR. EVAN PEREZGood morning.
MR. MARK JACOBSONGood morning.
MS. RACHEL SMOLKINGood morning.
REHMGood to have you here. Evan Perez, I'll start with you. We learned just this morning that the FBI investigation into the Petraeus affair has now expanded to include Gen. John Allen. What did they find?
PEREZWell, this was -- as we've all known, began as some sort of cyber stalking-type of investigation. And it appears over a period of time, they went into the emails of the people who are involved. Jill Kelley was this woman in Tampa, apparently, who planned parties and so on at MacDill Air Force Base there where CENTCOM is based. And she, apparently in addition to being friendly with Mr. Petraeus, was also communicating with Gen. Allen. And the FBI found up to about 30,000 pages of emails between the two. And that has caused...
REHMBetween John Allen and...
PEREZJohn Allen and Jill Kelley in Tampa, and so now that has raised the question of, what was going on there? What was happening? We're told that the emails were of a racy nature. There were some flirtatious types of emails. And so given what has happened with Gen. Petraeus, I think what is -- the White House decided to put on hold his nomination, which was scheduled to be heard later this week, and they've decided that, first, they need to see, you know, where that goes.
PEREZThey've launched an investigation at the Pentagon, and it's left to be seen what happens to him. He was supposed to be -- he was nominated to take over as a top general in -- top -- the head of the U.S. troops in Europe.
REHMAnd we learn this morning that the FBI has now searched Paula Broadwell's home. Is that correct? What are they looking for?
PEREZWell, that is -- it's not yet known what exactly they're looking for. This is part, you know, we were told in the recent days that they were still trying to wrap up the case, that no crime has been found so far, but they want to make sure, you know, there was an issue that was found in her -- when the FBI interviewed her. Paula Broadwell, this is the biographer to Gen. Petraeus. When they interviewer her in September, she turned over her computer.
PEREZThe FBI looked at the computer and found classified documents. That raised some concern. They went and interviewed Gen. Petraeus, and he told them that he wasn't the source of those documents.
REHMShe has a high security clearance, does she not?
PEREZWell, that is -- that's not clear whether or not the clearance -- whatever she has, she's claimed to have been doing some work with terrorism taskforce and so on. It's not clear whether or not she was -- she, you know, the document she had were a problem. And she said that also that Gen. Petraeus was not the source. So I think perhaps that might explain what's still going on.
REHMEvan Perez of The Wall Street Journal. Rachel Smolkin, you were about to close out your story when you get an email from your editor.
SMOLKINThat's right. We were working late last night on the Petraeus story, looking at what might happen next, who might be next as a successor. It was 1 in the morning. I was about to hit the sun button. Got an urgent email from my boss saying there is more news about to break and told me about John Allen. It's just an illustration of how shocking this case has been, how quickly it's changing.
SMOLKINYou look away for one moment, and the story has changed, and it's deepened. And there are so many questions surrounding it now more than ever. And the classic Washington question, what do they know, and when did they know it? I was putting together a rough timeline last night to help myself stay on top of this, and there are some just fascinating questions. We can expect lawmakers to probe these very deeply in the coming days and weeks.
SMOLKINBut apparently in late summer, that's when the lower level Justice Department officials told their supervisors that this investigation seemed more complicated than they first thought. But it's not clear when the information reached Eric Holder, the head of the Justice Department, or the FBI Director Robert Mueller. And so that is a real question. And who made the decision not to let it go beyond the FBI or the Justice Department but to stay in there? The president did not learn about this until after the election.
SMOLKINRaymond Clapper found out about it on election -- pardon me, James Clapper on Election Day, the director of national intelligence. So while the president is being reelected and getting this more decisive victory than had been anticipated in the Electoral College, meanwhile, Clapper is learning of this affair. The White House learned of it Wednesday. The president learned of it Thursday, took a day to think about this and then decided he wasn't going to stand in the way of Petraeus' departure.
REHMExplain to me how the Broadwell-Petraeus affair gets linked with Gen. John Allen and Jill in Florida.
SMOLKINWell, so far, the common denominator is Jill. I mean, we have a lot of questions about that. Right now, we just know that there were emails between her and between Gen. John Allen and that she was also a factor in the first part of the Petraeus story. She was the woman receiving these harassing emails, apparently, from Broadwell, and that's how she got involved. She went to a friend of hers who happened to be an FBI agent, and he seems to be the one who took the case, who got it launched within the FBI.
REHMAnd he then directly called Eric Cantor, is that correct?
SMOLKINHe went through another congressman and then ultimately got to Eric Cantor. But he took the information. He talked to Eric Cantor. Cantor didn't really know how to evaluate this information. He didn't know how to evaluate the credibility of the source. And interestingly, he appears to have gone straight to the FBI to share his concerns. It was not a piece of information he went public with. It just shows how sensitive this information was.
SMOLKINAnd it's a real question of, when you tell, does it affect public policy, national security if someone is having an affair? And these are very tough questions that are going to be explored. It seems the FBI had decided maybe not to do anything with this information. Congress is very upset that they weren't told. The lawmakers on the intelligence committee say if there's any possible connection to national security, they should have been notified immediately. But the question is if the FBI quickly decided that national security had not been compromised, is it still their obligation to come forward?
PEREZThe question of whether or not the FBI should have told somebody, you know, should have notified Congress, I think, is addressed by their longstanding policy, the Justice Department policy that under -- when there's a criminal investigation that you wall that off. You can't tell people in the White House, you don't people, you know, in Congress simply because it might affect the case.
PEREZIf you decide, for example, not to bring a case, if you find that there's nothing wrong there, then letting that out publicly, which is what happens if you tell Congress, you know, they're not known for holding back leaks. The -- if you tell -- if you let, you know, that information go out, then there's a chance that someone who did nothing wrong will be vilified and have their reputation tarnished. So there's reason for that policy.
REHMRachel, the timeline here is important because many people believe or say that the affair between Gen. Petraeus and Ms. Broadmore (sic) did not begin until after he became CIA director in September of 2011. Is that correct?
SMOLKINThat's correct. It appears to have ended a few months ago. Really, the timeline -- I mean, the affair and the timing of the affair is interesting. The more important question for the timeline had to do with the government and the actual exploration of this. When did the agents notify their supervisors? Who did their supervisors tell? Who made the decision not to let it go past that? Who made the decision not to notify Congress or the president?
SMOLKINAnd then ultimately, after all that decision making to keep this inside, why tell Clapper on Election Day? And obviously, once Clapper knew, the White House was going to know as well.
PEREZThere is one interesting part of this timeline with regard to when the affair started. Petraeus has told investigators that it started after left -- he retired. That's a very key thing because under the military code, you know, this could pose a problem for him. I mean, you could lose a star, for instance, under the military code if he was found to be doing this while he was in -- still active. So that's a very key timing. We don't have any information that suggest otherwise.
PEREZBut again, the fact that this has now become known, it's probably going to cause a re-assessment of this. This is something that the FBI took Gen. Petraeus and Paula Broadwell at their word, did not really -- again, this was not about an affair. This is not about Gen. Petraeus. He was a witness in a case that they were focused on on Paula Broadwell 'cause she was the one who was under investigation for possibly cyber-stalking.
REHMAll right. And finally before we take a break, has anyone seen any one of these emails? Have you seen any wording of those emails?
MR. MICHAEL O'HANLONI'm going to jump in here if you don't mind, Diane.
REHMNo, you can't 'cause we have to take a break.
REHMAnd when we come back, I'll come to you first. And you can join us. I'll look forward to your calls.
REHMAnd the news is not only all over Washington, but all over the United States and perhaps other parts of the world, the Petraeus affair and the fallout. Here in the studio with me: Evan Perez of The Wall Street Journal; Rachel Smolkin, White House editor for Politico; Mark Jacobson, he's senior adviser for the Truman National Security Project.
REHMHe's former director of international affairs at the NATO International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan where he advised both Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Gen. David Petraeus on a range of foreign affairs issues. And finally, Michael O'Hanlon, he's senior fellow, director of research at the foreign policy program at the Brookings Institution, co-author of "Bending History: Barack Obama's Foreign Policy." Michael, I promised you first word when we came back.
O'HANLONThank you, Diane. I think you and Evan and Rachel have laid out the basic timeline very well. I just want to make a specific point about Gen. Allen in regard to your last question. I think you were asking about emails, probably more about Petraeus and Broadwell. But here's the thing, we're all getting this information about 20,000, 30,000 emails between Allen and this woman, Ms. Kelly in Florida. Let's wait and see what that really means, OK? I think we would all agree we don't have any idea.
O'HANLONThese could have been emails that were primarily some kind of a LISTSERV where somebody was just forwarding, basically, any email on any topic of general relevance. The idea that Gen. Allen was involved in dozens of emails per day personally with this woman, I doubt very, very much. He is a man of amazing integrity doing a fantastic job in this war and before the Washington rumor mill drags him down too. I think we need to underscore we don't know anything about this case...
O'HANLON...and realize no one has said anything to the contrary. But the more we just hear there's 20,000, 30,000 emails stuff out there in the ether, it begins to take on a life of its own.
REHMThen why is Gen. Allen in this equation at all, Evan?
O'HANLONWe don't know.
PEREZWell, it's just the -- I think what has happened is after seeing what happened with Gen. Petraeus, the decision was made that, you know, given the contact with this woman, Jill Kelly and Gen. Allen, that it was best to at least put on hold the nomination, to just take a minute to just look and see what it is, what these were about. Again, we were told, you know, by sources that some of it is a bit racy.
PEREZAnd so that may or may not be jokes being passed between people. They apparently knew each other. It's not surprising. She knew a lot of people in Tampa who've gone through Tampa through the military commands there. So I think it's correct that we should withhold judgment, but there's a reason, I think, the arbitration is concerned.
REHMAll right. Here's an email from Melanie, who says, "Perhaps I'm morally corrupt, but I just don't see why David Petraeus had to resign. This seems like a personal matter. I feel for his wife and family, but I don't see how it affects the government and our population. He was still capable of doing his job." Mark Jacobson.
JACOBSONI mean, I would agree with Melanie that I wish that this had remained a private matter, that this could have been something handled within the Petraeus family and the Broadwell family and not been something for the entire nation to be ogling at. At the same time, I think Gen. Petraeus was absolutely right to tender his resignation. I believe he felt that he could no longer do the very important work he had to do with the agency because the focus would no longer be on that work.
JACOBSONThe focus would be on him and the scandal, and that he just would not be able to drive forward and give the best leadership to the agency that he could. And he felt very strongly about these concepts. He inculcated the idea of honor, duty and, of course, country to those he work with. And I think it was really the honorable thing to do, although it's a tragedy.
REHMMichael, you know Gen. Petraeus personally. You have been a friend of his. Do you believe his resignation could have been avoided?
O'HANLONI think Mark said it perfectly. You know, I -- there's a part of me that still would like to re-litigate this and say that even though he was not field commander when the affair was apparently occurring, and, therefore, one can say it wasn't as serious as it would have been if he had been doing this in that time period. Nonetheless, what's done is done. I understand the logic of why he felt he couldn't stay. And I guess, even if I could see the other side of the argument, I'm not sure it's worth the trouble of reopening it.
REHMHere's an interesting question from Richard in Michigan, which says, "As for Ms. Kelly, how was it that her FBI friend, instead of advising her to take the threatening emails to her local police, escalated the matter to a full-blown FBI investigation?" Evan.
PEREZCyber crime is a federal issue. It's very much...
REHMBut who says it had risen to the level of crime?
PEREZWell, that's the...
REHMThat's what we don't know.
PEREZRight. We don't know exactly the content of the email. Some of the emails were things like -- and they came from emails that were aliases, that had alias names. And so, you know, I think there were some questions as to who she was talking about -- Broadwell -- when she was sending these emails to Jill Kelly.
PEREZThey seemed to be mentioning military people and comings and goings of military people, which, again, sort of raised the question of, you know, and again, this is MacDill. This is where the war in the Middle East -- the wars in the Middle East have been prosecuted from. So, you know, it's very sensitive in Tampa that...
PEREZ...you know, that it would raise the FBI's interest.
SMOLKINI just wanted to raise one other point we were -- Michael was talking and made a very good point, about the emails between Jill Kelly and Gen. Allen, about what we don't know so far. I just wanted to note the language that we're using right now. A senior U.S. defense official, unnamed, of course, says that there were "potentially inappropriate emails." That's very vague language. I don't know what that means.
SMOLKINSo, yes, I think we're -- we are right to tread carefully and not make assumptions about what happened here just because of some other pieces that have started to emerge about this case.
REHMMichael O'Hanlon, was the FBI justified in waiting as long as it did to disclose the investigation?
O'HANLONI think there's a good case the FBI should never have disclosed this to anyone once it was found that there were no national security implications, which raises the issue of this rouge agent or potentially rouge agent, and why he went to Congressman Cantor. And perhaps that forced the whole issue, as Rachel was laying out earlier. I think there's a good chance the president shouldn't have been told once this was realized not to be a national security matter.
O'HANLONWe haven't yet mentioned the FBI's distant past. And, you know, it would be wrong to make too may analogies with J. Edgar Hoover. But, nonetheless, the idea that citizens in this country are protected from spurious investigations that could be politically motivated -- I'm not saying they were in this case -- but that principle is important. And I don't see any national security implications of the Petraeus-Broadwell affair. There's a very good argument. At least I'm interested in the question. I'm not coming down hard one way or another.
O'HANLONBut I'm interested in the argument that suggests, for at least for future cases, whether this should have been kept internal all the time once it was found that there were no national security implications.
REHMHave we also, as a country, somehow reached the point where personal behavior, even adultery, is off the table?
PEREZThe reaction that we're getting, which is not as -- from the email you got earlier -- is quite indicative of that. I think, since Bill -- since the Bill Clinton years, obviously, I think the public has a tolerance for this kind of thing. And so, you have to look at some of the specific events late in this investigation. Eric Cantor, the congressman, is told about this. He comes to the FBI, to Bob Mueller of the FBI.
PEREZAnd you do have to wonder whether if that weren't the case, Mueller wouldn't then -- would have ended up going to Jim Clapper, the head of DNI, who is at least under their org chart, Petraeus' boss, with this information. And Clapper is the one who then goes to Petraeus and says, as a friend and as a colleague, I think you should resign.
REHMMark Jacobson, should Congress and the White House have been told back in the summer what was going on with Petraeus?
JACOBSONAt this point, I don't think so. I think the issues that my colleagues here have raised about the need to prevent innocent people from being impugned, the need to filter for a spurious political investigation -- the FBI appears to have acted prudently, you know, moving deliberately forward with the investigation, informing those who clearly needed to know. And I think as we learn a bit more, we'll see about when the decisions were made about interacting on this investigation outside of the Department of Justice. But for right now, I think the FBI appears to have acted very prudently.
REHMBut, Rachel, what about Sen. Feinstein and her argument, what she is saying about the FBI investigation?
SMOLKINSen. Feinstein was angry about this, said it was like a lightning bolt to find out about this that she found out through media inquiries. The interesting question moving forward is, if Sen. Feinstein and Pete King and others choose to make an issue of this, what will be their argument? If they say to the FBI, you should've told us because this involved potential national security breaches, and the FBI said, but we quickly investigated it and it didn't, what did they come back with?
SMOLKINWell, you should've told us anyway because it's Petraeus, or you should've told us the second you found out it might involve a national security breach. And if that's going to be the standard, it seems like it'll bring in a whole lot of other investigations potentially. So what is the -- what's the follow-up question going to be?
REHMThe follow-up question might be, is there any link between the Petraeus resignation and what happened in Benghazi? Michael.
O'HANLONNo, in my judgment. I saw Gen. Petraeus Sept. 12. And on that day, as I'm sure every previous day, he was working his tail off on this problem. We better learn some lessons as a country because my sense is we probably didn't handle Benghazi perfectly, but the notion that any of this was somehow politically driven or scandal-driven or compromised by either politics or scandal, I see no evidence of whatsoever. I see a lot of hard working people who got some of this right, some of this wrong, and now it's time to do some lessons learned as opposed to further politicization.
JACOBSONI would add to this that we are learning that the world is as dangerous for our diplomats or foreign service officers or USAID professionals out in unstable regions as it is for military personnel. And no doubt bipartisan investigations are re-looked within the administration is going to identify some practices that may help to reduce the likelihood of a Benghazi-type situation happening in the future. But as to a link with this, I'm very dubious. I think we saw the politicization of this issue in the weeks running up to the election and that's about it.
REHMMark Jacobson of the Truman National Security Project, and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." There are, I'm sure, great many people out there wondering what in the world has happened to morality. Where has morality a place in the highest levels of government? You mentioned President Clinton, and, of course, the country went through that whole era. Here we're dealing with, on the one hand, a man who's been married for 38 years, who has a wife so active to helping military families. He has two grown children. He's dealing with that now personally.
REHMWhat happens to the morality of individuals once they've reached high places? And I'm not suggesting that people in less high places aren't subject to the same kinds of issues, but what's happened, Michael?
O'HANLONWell, Diane, I don't know. I guess there are a number of ways to answer your question, and I don't want to sound in any way approving or belittling of the significance of what's happened. People made major mistakes. My friends made major mistakes. However, the notion that what's happened to morality is if things have changed so much, I disagree with.
O'HANLONWhat have we learned about John Kennedy and his abysmal behavior in the White House towards very young women? What have we seen -- what do we know about Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the way he comported himself? And this is not to say these individuals made no important contributions in a positive spirit, but I don't think things have necessarily changed for the worse.
O'HANLONRichard Nixon may or may not have had this particular issue but he had a lot of others. So especially for all of our friends who are sort of our age or less and, you know, maybe are wondering, is this current day and age a lot worse that the days of our parents and grandparents? I would say no.
PEREZI think the difference is really the sort of saturation of media culture, the fact that these things don't remain private, I think that's the difference. Back in the day, obviously, there was -- people knew about some of these things with President Kennedy and didn't tell. People have been having affairs for as long as people have been married. So I don't think that there's much different. I think what it is some of it has become public.
JACOBSONWell, I think there are two pieces. First, we can do our best to teach our leaders as they ascend to positions of higher authority, that the moral and ethical challenges that they had as less senior individuals will still be there, and people will be watching with even greater scrutiny than before.
REHMAnd Gen. Petraeus himself said exactly that.
JACOBSONAnd this does not make that lesson any less valid for those out there who have tried to model themselves after great leaders like Gen. Petraeus. There's also another element and that's that how an individual reacts in the face of a moral misstep. And I think that's something else we can look towards those in Washington. Some have done it well and some have not done and that some have not reacted well.
SMOLKINI would agree that the actions are the same as they've always been, but the level of scrutiny on those actions has very much changed. Interestingly, we're now seeing reporting that Petraeus did not plan to resign when the FBI first talked to him about this. He readily acknowledged the affair but planned to keep going. It was not until it became clear that this was going to come out publicly that he decided to submit his resignation to get in front of this, to give a decisive ending or at least the beginning of an end to this story.
SMOLKINEven if he had tried to say on, it would've become a major distraction, as big a distraction as it's going to be for the president now. It would've been so much greater if he had tried to ride this out. And this comes after, you know, the revelations about Secret Service agents and Columbian shenanigans there. So there has been some attention on these kinds of issues in recent months. There have been several other examples, but this follows that. It comes and someone who previously seemed unimpeachable in this realm, a moral model as well as a model of military commander.
REHMRachel Smolkin, White House editor for Politico. Short break here. When we come back, we'll open the phones. I look forward to hearing your comments.
REHMAnd it's time to open the phones, 800-433-8850, first to Lincoln, Mass. Good morning, Lisa. You're on the air.
LISAHello, Diane. Thank you. I have a question for your guests. The New York Times had an article about the CIA involvement in Benghazi and the death of the diplomats. And in fact, before the story broke, there were photo ops of Gen. Petraeus with Ben Affleck on the same day when the bodies of the diplomats were returned home to United States, and he chose to go to this movie screening instead of showing up with, you know, Hillary Clinton and others to greet the returning bodies. It's hard to imagine there is not an involvement. Can you guests comment on that?
PEREZThat was a Wall Street Journal story that looked into the role of the CIA in this Benghazi. If you remember when this began, it was a State Department scandal. It was apparently a screw up by State Department on security. And what was not known publicly was that at its heart, Benghazi was really a CIA operation. Very few of the people involved were State Department employees. And there was some criticism that came Gen. Petraeus' way because as part of their -- trying to keep it classified and secret, he didn't meet the bodies at Dover.
PEREZHe didn't stand there the day when the bodies came back with Secretary Clinton and the president and Leon Panetta. And there was some consternation as to why he went to six hours of parties instead when "Argo," the movie that is based on a CIA operation, you know, with the hostages in Iran, that he decided to go parties at the Canadian Embassy and to celebrate that movie.
PEREZAnd we, you know, there are some video of him being thanked by Ben Affleck. Now, you know, the CIA points out that he was very much involved. The fact that he wasn't publicly present in all these things doesn't mean he wasn't directly involved. And instead, you know, that it, you know, that wasn't something that was a really big matter.
REHMBut then Paula Broadwell gave a speech in Colorado at the end of last month in which she seemed to have some inside information on the Benghazi attack. Did she, Michael?
O'HANLONWell, the CIA has said that she was mistaken in whatever she alleged, so that's really as far as I can take that analysis. I don't think that she had many correct information from -- she was surmising, and I think she was wrong.
JACOBSONThere is also a report out there that she obtained that information from a Fox News broadcast that had then -- that then Fox News had taken off the air. But again -- so I think we have to wait and see. There are lots of information that floats throughout Washington, whether it's Benghazi or Yemen or things like that, that frankly isn't accurate and doesn't come from classified sources.
REHMTo La Plata, Md. Good morning, Joan. Joan, are you there?
JOANYes, I am. Can you hear me?
REHMGo right ahead, please.
JOANI love your show.
JOANI have a couple of comments. One is on -- you may have touched on this already, but I imagine or I think that if he had an affair once, he's probably had others. And I wouldn't be surprised if that comes out later. And then the other -- I'm starting to hear some rumblings on some of the more conservative shows that they're blaming her, say, how, you know, she led him astray and all this. And I keep thinking to myself, well, then he had no business being there if he has to be so easily led astray.
SMOLKINWe were talking about that very issue during the break. I think that's an excellent point. And unfortunately, I think we in the media tend to often be guilty of that, to focus on the woman and not look so much at the man, in this case, the man in power. Yes, I think that you will begin to see more scrutiny of his actions, and certainly that's absolutely part of the story. And frankly, as far as the public interest is concerned, that's the more important part of the story, his actions, not her actions.
SMOLKINI'd also go back to our early discussion about Benghazi and say that I think that there will be tremendous pressure on Petraeus to testify. I don't think that leaving will excuse him from that in the eyes of lawmakers. The CIA is planning to send Mike Morell, his deputy, to testify, but I think there will be request/demands for Petraeus to come in at some point soon as well.
O'HANLONYeah. Joan, thank you for your point. I would simply say -- and I know them both well -- they're both good people who'd made a big mistake, and I think they made it together. And I'm not going to try to part as to who made more of the mistake or who has 51 percent of the responsibility, but they both made this mistake. It was not Paula Broadwell somehow with a Machiavellian plan to make this happen all along. They both made this mistake together.
O'HANLONAnd let me just say, not because there is any effort to make light of this, but simply because she has come under such critical scrutiny in the last few days. She's got a lot of strengths as a human being. And I don't know what's happened the last year. I hope very much she can get beyond it. But I know a person who committed a lot of her time to wounded veterans causes, a lot of her time to her family. And we took this book project very seriously. It's a favorable book towards Petraeus.
O'HANLONBut it's an interesting book, and it's has a lot of material that people interested in leadership can benefit from. So it shouldn't be confused with a critical history. But she worked hard on it. And I just want to say a couple of things about her qualities, her strong qualities because obviously she's made huge mistakes. She deserves a criticism for those mistakes. But I think people deserve a little fuller picture of who she is.
REHMWe're trying to understand exactly what Nancy in Dallas is asking. What were the harassing emails sent by Ms. Broadwell? What was the nature of their content? And what about them was harassing? Evan.
PEREZWell, if you're receiving emails from an email account that you don't recognize, and they're different ones and they're emails that suggests someone is watching you essentially. One of them was -- had the tender of -- this is an email. The address is one that Jill Kelly shared with her husband. So one of the emails comes in and says, do you know what your wife is doing, something to that effect.
PEREZAnother one sort of suggests that this person is aware that Jill Kelly was seen somewhere next to Gen. Petraeus and perhaps was touching him inappropriately. So there were things that -- and again, some of them -- the emails initially, essentially did not named Petraeus. They just suggested that this was somebody who was in the military and was a general. And so this is what, again, drew her concern. And she got between five and 10 of these. So you can see that someone would be kind of spooked out by this. And having an FBI friend, she decided to ask about it.
REHMJust to let you all know that Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is speaking to the press right now. She says David Petraeus should testify about Libya. So we shall see what happens there. To Sesser, Ill. Hello there, Julie.
JULIEHow are you?
REHMI'm fine. Thanks. Go right ahead.
JULIEI love your show.
REHMI'm glad. Thank you.
JULIEI was actually curious. You mentioned the morality issues related to the affair. What about this FBI agent who apparently has gone beyond the chain of command to Congressman Cantor to release information? What about his ethics and morality? I mean, that seems more of an important question than Petraeus having an affair.
JACOBSONI think this is going to be one of the big questions. The issue has been raised, should this have been made public? You know, especially once it was known, there were no national security implications. And it is possible that this individual acting on their own decided that they did not like the conclusion that was made by the FBI and for whatever reason has decided to go outside the chain.
JACOBSONAnd this is exactly the worry that we all should have when law enforcement -- when an individual from law enforcement takes matters into their own hands and violates that code and ethos that's within the establishment.
PEREZAs we reported this morning in The Journal, the concern that the agent appeared to have was that this was being swept under the rug, that there was a cover-up to protect Petraeus on the part of the administration. That's what was his concern was, and that's what prompted him to go forward, that he was concerned that his -- that this complaint was not being dealt with.
REHMAll right, to Key West, Fla. Hi there, Mike.
MIKEHi, Diane. Thank you.
MIKEI got a comment and two questions. Number one, the comment is he isn't running for your local chamber of commerce head. He's going to be the head of the CIA, which begs two questions. One, did he lie on his application when he was riveted for the head? And, two, if so, is he going to be liable for prosecution? I'll take my answer off the air. Thank you.
REHMAnd why would he be liable for prosecution, Evan?
PEREZWell, I mean, I think the FBI determined -- this was, again, I keep repeating this, this is not about the affair. I think the FBI was so clear about -- that they did not want to go delve into his private life. I don't think they're looking to bring any kind of prosecution against Gen. Petraeus. I don't -- that's pretty much dead. The question of whether or not he might've lied, that depends on whether or not you believe that he -- this affair predated his time in the CIA.
PEREZSo, you know, the principle is if you're having an affair, you tell your boss, you tell your wife. There's no blackmail chances. There's no concern that, you know, as long as you're, you know, upfront about what you've done, you don't have a problem.
REHMTo Dallas, Texas. Hi there, Mark.
MARKGood morning, Diane. A quick question that you have addressed only tangentially and then a comment on the morality issue.
MARKMy question -- it relates way back to what I understand in the beginning when Ms. Kelly brought the emails to the FBI and she asked her friend to take a look at it. My understanding is that her friend's peers looked at those emails and said, there is nothing here. There appears to be no harassment, no criminal activity, no nothing. But somehow that investigation proceeded, and Ms. Broadwell was identified.
MARKAnd my question really is, were the requisite warrants obtained? When you're going to do that type of stuff -- my understanding is limited, but I think it's got to be done according to due process of the law, and I don't think that happened. So maybe this is a case of the national security state, sort of, eating itself, which I think is just great.
PEREZAs far as we know, the FBI went through the proper channels. Again, at the beginning, they didn't know what they had. This took several months to work its way. I don't -- you get the impression also, because of the slowness of the investigation, that initially, at least, it wasn't a high priority, and it looks like, you know, over time they see the emails and they see what's being said. And there is something of concern that they decide is worth it. And they go to prosecutors. They get the appropriate permissions to be able to do the snooping of Paula Broadwell's email accounts.
REHMOne thing here, apparently, David Petraeus was very popular with the press. He was popular with his colleagues. He had a real affinity for email. Did he not, Rachel?
SMOLKINHe did cultivate reporters, but in a way, I think, his popularity with the press just makes it a bigger story now because he was seen as this golden boy, this G.I. Joe. I mean, look at all the fall-from-grace stories and we wrote one at Politico. If he had not been held up so highly by the press, by the media, by the nation as this role model, I don't think there would be quite the attention it's getting right now. So that cuts both ways.
REHMAnd you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Finally, to Richmond, Va. Joe, you're on the air.
JOEGood morning, Diane.
JOEYeah, I think they're making much ado about nothing about Mr. Petraeus' affair. And I'm not defending him and, you know, stating that it's OK to do it. I mean, they kind of swept under the rug Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky until it really came to the point where they couldn't hide it. And he even lied about it, and he still remained as president.
JOEMy question, as some of your others have brought up, how come this immediately went to a federal investigation when it should have just been handled through the local authorities first? There's a lot of felonies that are committed that the FBI never gets involved in. The states take care of it.
O'HANLONThank you, Joe. I don't have much more to add than to tend to agree with your comment. I'm not an expert on FBI procedures in this case. Evan made the point earlier that he thinks procedures were correctly followed. I remain unconvinced either way from what I've seen and certainly not convinced that this had to become anything more than an internal FBI investigation.
REHMMark Jacobson, who's likely to replace David Petraeus?
JACOBSONWell, right now, we're going to see the Deputy Morell takeover in an acting capacity, and there's a good chance that he could hold the position of director of the CIA permanently. But there's a fairly good bench that the Obama administration has to choose from for a variety of positions and we could see names floated. Certainly, you know, we have a battle for secretary of state going on between Susan Rice and John Kerry, two very apt individuals.
JACOBSONThere will be an opening at the secretary of -- within the secretary of Defense's position, I think, in the spring of 2013. So I think the administration is going to, you know, be able to take their time -- I don't think they have to move to quickly -- and find the right person to lead the agency in the next year.
PEREZIt does appear Morell is well-liked in the White House. I think they trust him. He's -- they're probably very comfortable. He's been -- he probably knows more about Benghazi and about all the other operations than even the men at the top. It happens in all these types of agencies. So I think you'll probably likely to see him stay for a little bit.
REHMMichael O'Hanlon, is there a possibility that David Petraeus could have stayed on? Or was he forced out?
O'HANLONWell, Diane, it's the question that haunts me in many ways, and I don't really have a lot more to add than what we've already said. I think Mark's right that it was going to be very hard for him to stay once this became public. So I still think you can debate that because he was not in military command in the field, apparently, while the affair was ongoing.
O'HANLONIn the field, there are such high standards, that he would have been hypocritical to expect his subordinate commanders to avoid any such behavior while he was conducting in such an affair. But I don't believe that was the timing. So I think you can debate whether he had to step down. But I really -- un-persuaded, the FBI had to tell anybody about this, and I think we need to do some soul-searching and some after-action studies on everything, from what happened in Benghazi to what happened with the FBI.
JACOBSONI think that's right. In terms of understanding whether or not a public official in the limelight can serve and have the credibility after some sort of scandal like this. I was just thinking, in some sense, objectively, yes, they can. This may not interfere with their ability to lead. It may not interfere with a senior individual's credibility on the Hill. What I worry about, though, is the media environment. It becomes the focus of everything, and that, frankly for a long time, has been the price of public service in Washington, D.C.
REHMAnd that has to be the last word. Mark Jacobson of the Truman National Security Project, Evan Perez, reporter for The Wall Street Journal, Rachel Smolkin, White House editor for Politico and Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution. Sad story for everybody involved. Thank you all for being here. Thanks for listening. I'm Diane Rehm.
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