Petraeus scandal: Where will investigations take Congress?
As House and Senate intelligence leaders prepare to query top FBI and CIA officials on the Petraeus scandal, questions abound: Why did Obama not know sooner? Did the affair impact Libya? Was there a security breach?
Conspiracy theorists are offering all kinds of dark and convoluted guesses for why President Obama was not informed of the extramarital affair that brought down former CIA director David Petraeus until two days after the Nov. 6 elections.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures The Petraeus affair: the players
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But in the end the explanation may lead back to Watergate, and steps taken after the 1970s scandal to build a protective wall between the Justice Department criminal investigations and the White House.
Congress is likely to be reminded of that wall as it probes the national security ramifications of the Petraeus scandal with a series of closed-door hearings this week.
IN PICTURES: The Petraeus affair: the players
On Thursday, the Senate and House intelligence committees will meet with the acting CIA director, Michael Morell, and the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, to try to clarify any link between General Petraeus’s actions and the CIA response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.
But first on Wednesday, House intelligence leaders will sit down with the FBI’s deputy director, Sean Joyce, and Mr. Morell to try to answer some of the basic questions left unanswered in the wake of Petraeus’s resignation. The celebrated four-star general stepped down last Friday after an FBI investigation into a case of cyberharassment led to evidence of the spy chief’s affair with a former military intelligence officer who was also his biographer.
The House intelligence leaders want to know who knew what when, and in particular why it took so long for investigators to inform the White House and congressional leaders of a matter involving the CIA director with possible national security implications.
The FBI is said to be establishing a timeline to present to members of Congress. To explain why a probe that is said to have begun in May as a criminal investigation did not come to Mr. Obama’s attention until Nov. 8, FBI officials are likely to cite policies dating from the 1970s that prohibit the Bureau from sharing such information with the White House.