WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The sex scandal that forced CIA Director David Petraeus to resign has generated bizarre plot twists. Another top general exchanged what have been described as “inappropriate emails” with a key figure in the scandal; both generals were drawn into an ugly child custody battle; and a shirtless FBI agent leaked a report to a congressman. Here are the key players in the story:
Petraeus, 60, had an affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell, that started in late 2011 and ended about four months ago, according to those close to Petraeus. Ambitious, intellectual and possessor of a steel will, he ended a 37-year Army career in 2011 as a four-star general and one of the most highly regarded soldiers of his time. As commander of multi-national forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, he was credited with turning around U.S. fortunes in both wars. He was chosen to head the Central Intelligence Agency despite previous tactical disagreements with President Barack Obama. He survived prostate cancer, being shot in a training accident and a parachute malfunction that resulted in a broken pelvis. Media savvy and articulate, he was seen by some as a possible presidential candidate.
A West Point graduate and Army reserve officer, Broadwell, 40, met Petraeus in 2006, and had unprecedented access to him in writing her book: “All In: The Education of General David Petraeus,” published in January 2012. Their affair was uncovered by an FBI investigation into harassing emails she is alleged to have sent to military relations volunteer Jill Kelley, a long-time friend of the Petraeus family. Married to a radiologist and living in Charlotte, North Carolina, with their two small children, Broadwell has been in seclusion since the scandal broke. Neighbors describe her as a friendly, athletic soccer mom who worked on veterans’ causes. She hired Washington criminal lawyer Robert Muse, who represented White House intern Monica Lewinksy in the sex scandal involving President Bill Clinton.
Kelley, 37, is a fixture in the military scene in Tampa, Florida, home of MacDill Air Force Base and U.S. Central Command headquarters, acting as an unpaid social liaison. Married to cancer surgeon Scott Kelley, she became a friend of the Petraeus family when the general was based there as head of U.S. Central Command. Her complaint of threatening emails brought the Petraeus affair to light, FBI sources say. She was not suspected of involvement with Petraeus herself. But she became more enmeshed in the scandal with the revelation of extensive email correspondence - some allegedly inappropriate - with General John Allen, Petraeus’ replacement as commander in Afghanistan. She hired high-profile Washington attorney Abbe Lowell, who defended former Senator John Edwards, whose career was also blighted by a sex scandal, and convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
The 58-year-old U.S. Marine Corps general, now heading U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan, seemed headed for easy Senate confirmation as Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, but his nomination was put on hold after his emails with Kelley triggered an investigation. He served at the MacDill Air Force base from 2008 to 2011. While some officials described the emails between the married general and Kelley as flirtatious or affectionate, he denied having an affair.
The daughter of a general who was superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, she married Petraeus two months after his graduation from the academy. Their relationship was seen by many as a model of how to maintain a military marriage despite deployment hardships. In addition to raising two children, she focused on the financial well-being of military families as an official at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She testified before Congress about housing problems for military personnel. She was described as “wonderful” by Broadwell in book promotion interviews. She is “furious” with her husband, a family friend says.
Khawam is Jill Kelley’s twin sister who enlisted the support of her friends Petraeus and Allen in her bitter child custody dispute. Both generals wrote letters praising Khawam, a lawyer, as a mother and saying her son would benefit from more time with her. Petraeus said in his September 20 letter to the court that he had known Khawam for three years while serving in Tampa, through the friendship he and Holly have with Jill and Scott Kelley. Allen in his September 22 letter said he and his wife, Kathy, came to know Khawam through social functions while stationed at U.S. Central Command.
An unidentified FBI agent who is a friend of Jill Kelley triggered the FBI probe when he informed superiors of the threatening emails she told him she had received. The emails - warning Kelley to stay away from Petraeus - were sent by Broadwell. He was later removed from the FBI investigation because of concerns about his potential involvement with Kelley after he sent her a picture of himself without a shirt. It has been reported that he also told U.S. Representative Dave Reichert about the investigation. The agent is now the subject of an internal FBI investigation, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Editing by David Storey and Philip Barbara