The Petraeus Investigation’s Rogue FBI Agent Mystery

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Jill Kelley got the ball rolling with the help of an FBI mystery man.
Photo: Chris O'Meara/AP/Corbis

The details of the FBI's inquiry into CIA Director David Petraeus were filled in fairly quickly over the weekend, including the identity of the woman Paula Broadwell allegedly threatened via anonymous e-mails. She's Jill Kelley, a 37-year-old Tampa socialite who holds an "unpaid position as a social planner for MacDill Air Force Base," according to the Daily News, and who along with her husband are friends of the Petraeuses.

But one of the scandal's primary players remains a mystery. The entire investigation began when Kelley "complained to an F.B.I. agent who is also a personal friend" about the e-mails she was receiving warning her to stay away from Petraeus, the Times reported. (An FBI agent is a good friend to have.) This agent then "helped get a preliminary inquiry started," one which would eventually lead to the discovery of Petraeus's extramarital affair.

Even though the FBI looked into Petraeus and Broadwell and found no evidence of crimes or security breaches, sometime in October this same FBI agent leaked information about the scandal to GOP congressman Dave Reichert of Washington (although why Reichert was chosen is unclear). Reichert then passed the so-called "whistle-blower" onto House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who did the responsible thing and relayed the concerns to FBI Chief Robert Mueller. According to a Cantor statement:

“I was contacted by an F.B.I. employee concerned that sensitive, classified information may have been compromised and made certain Director Mueller was aware of these serious allegations and the potential risk to our national security,” Mr. Cantor said in a statement.

The agent's outreach to these two Republican congressmen about an issue that had already been investigated by the FBI raises some questions. Over at The New Yorker, Jane Mayer asks them:

But what, exactly, was this F.B.I. employee trying to expose? Was he blowing the whistle on his bosses? If so, why? Was he dissatisfied with their apparent exoneration of Petraeus? Given that this drama was playing out in the final days of a very heated Presidential campaign, and he was taking a potentially scandalous story to the Republican leadership in Congress, was there a political motive?

These answers may not be easy to come by, but they add another layer of political intrigue to a drama that was hardly lacking it to begin with.