[UPDATE: 12 a.m., Nov. 13]
And now there's this. Gen. John R. Allen, the commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan and Jill Kelley, not only involved but enough to provide upwards of 30,000 pages of "inappropriate emails?" This couldn't be anymore ridiculous.
[UPDATE: 10:10 p.m., Nov. 12]
This scandal is four days in and new details, each a little more ridiculous than the last, keep emerging. First, on the not ridiculous front, a few more details have surfaced about the then-anonymous threatening emails Petraeus biographer Paula Broadwell is alleged to have sent to Jill Kelley. Per NBC News:
What most alarmed Kelley and the FBI, the source said, were references to "the comings and goings" of high-level generals from the U.S. Central Command, which is based at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, and the U.S. Southern Command, as well as Petraeus -- including events that were not on any public schedule. This raised the question as to whether somebody had access to sensitive -- and classified -- information.
Moreover, the sender of the emails had "covered her tracks pretty well," the source said.
So there's that. Also, reports out of Charlotte tonight are that investigators are searching Broadwell's home there which she shares with her husband and two children. Several FBI agents were seen carrying boxes out of the home but according to an on-air report on MSNBC, the search was not considered a "raid." And one source told CBS that the search was "consensual." No, really, that's what they said because of course.
And now for this update's dosage of ridiculous in an already pretty outrageous as one of the highest ranking national security figures in the nation has seen his career unravel because of a tryst. And, lest we forget, we still don't know the relationship between Petraeus and Kelley. Regardless of that relationship, the news that an FBI agent was removed from the investigation because he sent photos of himself shirtless to Kelley is the latest example of why the made-for-TV movie of this saga is more likely to air on Lifetime or Comedy Central than CNN.
This is no longer an intelligence or cyber crime investigation, it's Melrose Place.
[UPDATE: 12:30 p.m., Nov. 12]
So we now have the logistics of this whole scandal down for the most part (see the updates below). But to recap: Petraeus had an affair with his biographer who was sending threatening emails to another woman and the threatened woman was so scared she went to the FBI and the FBI discovered the affair in their ensuing investigation. Simple enough, right?
Now we're getting to the heart of why it matters that Petraeus had an affair, especially one who had the access that Paula Broadwell, his biographer and mistress, did. At the center of the saga today is this speech Broadwell gave a few weeks ago where she made references to a theory that the CIA was holding prisoners and the Benghazi attacks were in retaliation for these prisoners. This was something that had previously been reported by Fox News, except as Gawker points out, the Fox report suggested it was after the attack while Broadwell seems to be suggesting it happened prior to the attack. (Gawker also notes that the affair allegedly was over when Broadwell gave this speech).
Now there's a whole new sticky wicket as allegations are coming down that the FBI and the Obama Administration knew about the affair and a potential security breach well before the election - as recently as late this summer - and kept it quiet. As the Wall Street Journal reports, a subsequent investigation of Broadwell revealed she was in possession of classified documents she shouldn't have but both her and Petraeus denied the general was the source of the documents. Still, the FBI is facing scrutiny over the investigation as well as its timing.
[UPDATE: 5:10 p.m., Nov. 11]
And now we know who the other other woman is: State Dept. liaison Jill Kelley. It was Kelley who received threatening emails from Paula Broadwell, Petraeus' mistress and triggered the entire investigation that uncovered the affair. As of right now, the relationship between Petraeus and Kelley is unknown but what is known is that Broadwell perceived Kelley as a threat to her relationship with Petraeus.
[UPDATE: 6:30 p.m., Nov. 10]
It now appears as if the whole thing started when Broadwell allegedly sent emails to another woman \, harassing the woman in what seems to be something of a jealous rage.
The recipient of the e-mails was so frightened that she went to the FBI for protection and help tracking down the sender, according to the officials. The FBI investigation traced the threats to Paula Broadwell, a former military officer and a Petraeus biographer, and uncovered explicit e-mails between Broadwell and Petraeus, the officials said.
According to the Washington Post, Petraeus' relationship with the second woman isn't known but it wasn't a coworker or his wife. So, to recap, it now appears as if it's possible Petraeus was carrying on two affairs or at least was flirty enough towards another woman that Broadwell felt her territory as mistress was being threatened.
[UPDATE: 3:10 p.m., Nov. 10]
Our gut instincts were right: as tempting as it is to connect that letter to the The Ethicist as tied to the Petraeus affair, it's not. Or so says Hugo Lindgren, editor of the New York Times Magazine who says factchecking confirmed it wasn't.
[UPDATE: 11:30 a.m., Nov. 10]
Well, now, this is even more interesting. Some enterprising sleuth - and it's lost to the ether who now because the link has been shared and reshared 100 times over on Twitter - dug up this letter to the Ethicist, something of an advice column in the New York Times Magazine run by renowned writer Chuck Klosterman. Despite the talk, we have to take this with a huge grain of salt. People in government are no better than people in other disciplines, i.e., they have affairs all the time. And if Klosterman felt so strongly about the motivation for the author writing in, why share the letter? Just some thoughts to keep in mind when reading the below letter. Now. All that aside? Whoa. Read the letter below and go here to read Klosterman's response.
My wife is having an affair with a government executive. His role is to manage a project whose progress is seen worldwide as a demonstration of American leadership. (This might seem hyperbolic, but it is not an exaggeration.) I have met with him on several occasions, and he has been gracious. (I doubt if he is aware of my knowledge.) I have watched the affair intensify over the last year, and I have also benefited from his generosity. He is engaged in work that I am passionate about and is absolutely the right person for the job. I strongly feel that exposing the affair will create a major distraction that would adversely impact the success of an important effort. My issue: Should I acknowledge this affair and finally force closure? Should I suffer in silence for the next year or two for a project I feel must succeed? Should I be "true to my heart" and walk away from the entire miserable situation and put the episode behind me? NAME WITHHELD
[UPDATE: 8:30 p.m.] Well, a Wall Street Journal report seems to outline and connect the dots, including that the affair apparently started in August 2011.
Central Intelligence Agency Director David Petraeus resigned after a probe into whether someone else was using his email led to the discovery that he was having an extramarital affair, according to several people briefed on the matter.
A Federal Bureau of Investigation inquiry into use of Mr. Petraeus's Gmail account led agents to believe the woman or someone close to her had sought access to his email, the people said.
Multiple officials familiar with the investigation identified the woman as the author of a biography on Mr. Petraeus.
Broadwell's website has also been pulled offline.
News reports this afternoon claim author Paula Broadwell is tied to an FBI investigation of General David Petraeus who resigned his post as head of the CIA earlier today due to an extra-marital affair. NBC News reports Broadwell, who co-authored Petraeus' biography, the now-unfortunately titled All In, was investigated "for improperly trying to access his email and possibly gaining access to classified information." While other outlets have claimed Broadwell was the person with whom Petraeus had the affair, law enforcement officials haven't made any statements or confirmed that particular allegation. Just this week, Broadwell posted this list of Petraeus' "Rules For Living" over at The Daily Beast/Newsweek.
Here's video of Broadwell discussing All In on The Daily Show earlier this year.