Holder defends DOJ’s handling of Petraeus investigation; Pentagon orders ethics review

Attorney General Eric Holder defended the Justice Department’s handling of the investigation of CIA Director David Petraeus, who resigned in disgrace last week after admitting to engaging in an extramarital affair.

Holder maintained that the FBI has conducted the investigation “in an impartial way” – “in the way that we normally conduct criminal investigations.” 

Read more: CIA Director David Petraeus resigns over extra-marital affair

“We follow the facts. We do not share – outside the Justice Department, outside the FBI – the facts of ongoing investigations. We made the determination as we were going through the matter that there was not a threat to national security,” Holder told reporters at a press conference in New Orleans. “Had we made the determination that a threat to national security existed, we would, of course, have made that known to the President and also to the appropriate members on the Hill.”

The Justice Department has been criticized by some lawmakers for not informing the White House and top Congressional leaders of the Petraeus investigation until shortly before the Petraeus’s surprise announcement.

Read more: Transcript: Remarks by Attorney General Eric Holder on the Petraeus investigation

Former CIA Director David Petraeus and his biographer, Paula Broadwell. SOURCE: CIA.gov and Twitter.com/PaulaBroadwell

Holder said the White House and key lawmakers were informed of the matter last week following a “very critical interview” that took place about a week before Petraeus’s public admission.

“When we got to a point in the investigation – it was very late in the investigation – after a very critical interview occurred on the Friday before we made that disclosure – when we go to that point where we thought it was appropriate to share the information, we did so,” Holder said.

Since his resignation, numerous news publications have identified Petraeus’s biographer, Paula Broadwell, as the woman with whom the retired Army General was having an affair.

The FBI was looking into suspected breach of Petraeus’s personal email account when they stumbled upon communications that indicated an improper relationship between the CIA Director and Broadwell, who is also married. The FBI is still investigating whether Broadwell had improperly obtained classified information with or without Petraeus’s help.

The investigation was reportedly triggered after a Tampa socialite, identified as Jill Kelley, complained of threatening emails that were later traced back to Broadwell.

Defense Secretary orders ethics review 

In bizarre twist, investigators are also looking into any improper communications between Kelley and Gen. John Allen, who succeeded Petraeus as the top commander in Afghanistan.

Allen’s nomination to become the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe has been put on hold pending an investigation by the Inspector General for the Department of Defense.

“While the matter is under investigation and before the facts are determined, General Allen will remain Commander of ISAF [International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan],” said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. “He is entitled to due process in this matter.”

Yesterday, the Pentagon announced that Panetta had ordered a review of ethics of senior military officers.

Pentagon spokesman George Little said the timing of the review, which will led by Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, was ot connected to the inquiries involving Petraeus and Allen. The review, Little maintained, “was going to happen anyway”.

In a statement released on Thursday, the Pentagon explained that “over the past several months, the Secretary has spoken with the service secretaries, service chiefs, and combatant commanders about those instances when senior officers have not lived up to the standards expected of them.  This has been an ongoing discussion reflecting shared concerns.”

The initial findings are expected to be presented to President Barack Obama by Dec. 1st.


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