Thursday, November 15, 2012
Now the CIA Is Investigating Petraeus
It’s not even a week since Petraeus resigned from CIA after an FBI investigation discovered he had an affair with biographer Paula Broadwell. That investigation reportedly cleared Petraeus of disclosing any classified information, which would be the major national-security concern about a CIA director’s affair. But the CIA confirms that its inspector general is taking its own, open-ended look into Petraeus’ conduct.
“At the CIA we are constantly reviewing our performance,” spokesman Preston Golson e-mails Danger Room. “If there are lessons to be learned from this case we’ll use them to improve. But we’re not getting ahead of ourselves; an investigation is exploratory and doesn’t presuppose any particular outcome.”
The CIA inspector general sent word on Wednesday to the House and Senate intelligence committees that internal review was getting started. There’s no deadline attached to the review, first reported by the Associated Press, and its focus is broad: determining whether, for instance, Petraeus used any CIA resources for his affair. A likely sub-category of the investigation will be making sure the FBI determined correctly that Petraeus didn’t jeopardize classified information. It’s unclear if the CIA’s internal watchdog will interview Petraeus himself, who will visit the Hill on Friday for a closed-door hearing with those very committees about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
Meanwhile, off the record, current and ex-CIA officers are telling the press that they never liked Petraeus in the first place. A package of stories in Time portrayed CIA analysts bristling at Petraeus’ martinet style. “The agency’s not a militaristic organization,” one ex-official huffs to the magazine, “They don’t welcome people barking orders without debate.” That follows on a story in The New York Times before Petraeus’ downfall that CIA officials were disinclined to fall in line behind the ex-general. “The attitude at the agency is, ‘You may be the director, but I’m the Thailand analyst,‘” went one memorable quote sourced to an anonymous CIA veteran.
“Military guys tend not to do well, because they treat senior people like Lt. Colonels on their staffs,” one former intelligence official tells Danger Room. “He tried to avoid that. But the [military] bearing is the bearing.”
“There’s not gonna be a lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth now that he’s gone,” the official adds.
Former CIA chief Michael Hayden took pains not to criticize Petraeus in any way. But in an interview with Danger Room, he made it clear that the Agency has to go beyond the drone strikes that characterized the Petraeus Epoch at Langley.
“We have been laser-focused on terrorism, OK? And some of that is very high end, very sophisticated, very nuanced. But an awful lot of that, when you step back, looks more like targeting than it does classical intelligence,” Hayden says.
Frederick Humphries, the FBI agent in Tampa who began the inquest on cyber-harassment that ultimately doomed Petraeus, is also reconsidering his action. He is reportedly saying he “never sought to blow a whistle on the case,” the Washington Post reports. Humphries was immortalized as the “Shirtless FBI agent” after sending a (supposedly lighthearted) shirtless photo of himself — finally revealed here — to his friend, Jill Kelley, who asked him to look at harassing emails she received from Jill Kelley. Ultimately, Humphries was taken off the case and alerted members of Congress to it, principally Reps. Dave Reichert and Eric Cantor. But the Post cited “a person close to the inquiry,” who said, “I don’t know if it would have taken this course without Cantor,” the House GOP leader.
“Aside from acknowledging that Majority Leader Cantor was approached by Rep. Dave Reichert, we have not commented on who the Majority Leader spoke to, other than noting that the person was an FBI official,” e-mails Cantor aide Doug Heye. “Nor have we gone into detail about the conversation, other to note that there were concerns that sensitive information may have been compromised. We maintain that confidentiality.” Reichert, through a spokeswoman, continued to decline comment; Humphries’ lawyer has yet to return a request for comment.
The original FBI investigation hasn’t even finished yet: it’s still looking at Broadwell’s computer to learn if any unauthorized classified material appears on it. But there’s yet another inquiry at work. On Thursday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta instructed Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to review “how to better foster a culture of stewardship among our most senior military officers.” What began in Petraeus’ bedroom has now left an ethical cloud over his former uniformed colleagues.