WASHINGTON: The US Senate intelligence committee will investigate why the FBI failed to notify the White House and Congress when it discovered that the ex-CIA director David Petraeus was involved in an extramarital affair with his biographer.
High-level officials at the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and Justice Department were notified in the late northern summer that FBI agents had uncovered what appeared to be an extramarital affair involving the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Mr Petraeus, it has emerged.
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But law enforcement officials did not notify anyone outside the FBI or the Justice Department until last week because the investigation was incomplete and initial concerns about possible security breaches, which would demand more immediate action, did not appear to be justified, officials said.
The new accounts of the events that led to Mr Petraeus's sudden resignation on Friday shed light on the competing pressures facing FBI agents who recognised the high stakes of any investigation involving the CIA director, but who were wary of exposing a private affair with no criminal or security implications.
The woman whose report of harassing emails led to the exposure of the affair was Jill Kelley, 37, of Tampa, Florida. Ms Kelley worked as an unpaid social liaison to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.
On Sunday Ms Kelley and her husband, Scott, issued a statement saying:
''We and our family have been friends with General Petraeus and his family for over five years. We respect his and his family's children and want the same for us and our three children.''
The involvement of the FBI, government officials said, began when Ms Kelley, alarmed by about half a dozen anonymous emails accusing her of inappropriate flirtatious behaviour with Mr Petraeus, complained to an FBI agent who is also a friend.
Eventually the agency identified the author Paula Broadwell as a prime suspect and obtained access to her regular email account. In its inbox, they discovered intimate and sexually explicit emails from another account that also was not immediately identifiable. Investigators eventually ascertained that it belonged to Mr Petraeus and studied the possibility that someone was posing as him to send the explicit messages.
Eventually they determined that Mr Petraeus had indeed sent the messages to Ms Broadwell and concluded that the two had had an affair.
It was at that point that Justice Department officials notified supervisors that the case had become more complicated, and the Criminal Division's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section began working on the investigation as well.
It is unclear whether the FBI also accessed Mr Petraeus's email account, or if it relied only on Ms Broadwell's emails. It is also uncertain when the information about Mr Petraeus reached the US Attorney-General, Eric Holder, and FBI director, Robert Mueller. Both have declined to comment.
Mr Petraeus was scheduled to testify on the attack on US diplomatic staff in Benghazi, Libya, this week but will now be replaced in the hearing by the CIA acting director, Michael Morrell.
Bloomberg, The New York Times, McClatchy