Conflict & Justice

Petraeus affair: 'Shirtless' FBI agent under investigation


A complaint by a friend of the Petraeus family, Jill Kelley, that she was receiving harassing emails would eventually lead FBI investigators to correspondence between David Petraeus and his biographer, Paula Broadwell, that revealed they had had an affair. This picture shows them together in July 2011.



Just when you thought the David Petraeus scandal couldn't get any weirder, it did.

The newest protagonist in a cast that already includes the former CIA director, his wife, their friend, his biographer-turned-lover and the head of NATO forces in Afghanistan is a man referred to as "the shirtless FBI agent."

The Wall Street Journal first introduced him to us: He is the contact to whom Jill Kelley, a friend of the Petraeus family and, we now know, correspondent of Gen. John Allen, first reported receiving harassing emails.

Those messages were eventually traced to Paula Broadwell, Petraeus's biographer and mistress, uncovering the affair that led the general to resign from the CIA.

But by the time he did, the federal agent himself would be under scrutiny.

Full coverage of The Petraeus Affair

According to the Journal's sources, the agent is a friend of Kelley and, as her inbox would later reveal, had "sent shirtless photos to Ms. Kelley well before the email investigation began."

That detail wasn't known to his superiors at the start of the probe and in any case, officials told the New York Times, the agent was never part of the team of cyber specialists assigned to the investigation.

Nevertheless, the Times reported:

"The agent, who was not identified, continued to 'nose around' about the case, and eventually his superiors 'told him to stay the hell away from it, and he was not invited to briefings,' the official said."

Some were concerned that he had become "obsessed," according to the Journal.

The agent even took it upon himself to blow the whistle when he became convinced that his superiors were trying to sweep the matter under the carpet, the Times said:

"Because of his 'worldview,' as the official put it, [the agent] suspected a politically motivated cover-up to protect President Obama. The agent alerted Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, who called the FBI director, Robert S. Mueller III, on Oct. 31 to tell him of the agent's concerns."

Sources told the Journal that the agent, who has not been named, is now under investigation by the FBI's internal affairs watchdog.

The Times quoted its source as saying that the agent's actions were "a little embarrassing," but ultimately did not affect the investigation.

Yet, as questions are asked about who knew what when — and specifically, how the House majority leader came to be informed, apparently by accident, weeks before the president or members of the House and Senate intelligence committees — the shirtless FBI agent may prove more than just a bizarre sidenote in this more-than-bizarre scandal.