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Bridget Johnson

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November 11, 2012 - 12:22 pm

The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said that the timeline of the FBI’s investigation into the Petraeus emails in relation to campaign season “doesn’t add up.”

“First of all, I’m wondering — excuse me, how a — something about emails went to the level of the FBI, how the FBI could have been investigating it this long, and yet, you know, General Petraeus was involved — or Director Petraeus was involved,” Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said this morning on CNN’s State of the Union.

“To me, if it was the FBI the director had the obligation to tell the president or the National Security Council at the earliest state. So it seems this has been going on for several months and, yet, now it appears that they’re saying that the FBI didn’t realize until Election Day that General Petraeus was involved,” King continued. “It just doesn’t add up, that you have this type of investigation. The FBI investigating emails, the emails leading to the CIA director, and it taking four months to find out that the CIA director was involved.”

“I think the FBI has to come forward and tell exactly when they began the investigation, why it reached that level, when they first realized that General Petraeus might be involved, and at the time they did realize he was involved, did they go to the White House, did they go to the National Security Council? Because obviously this was a matter involving a potential compromise of security, and the president should have been told about it at the earliest state. That’s really all I’m saying. How the FBI got involved? How long it was going on? Did they get a court order? Was it a federal court order for this email surveillance? You know, what was contained in that order? When did they realize that it possibly involved the CIA director?”

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), accused before the election of visiting hookers (charges which he has denied), countered that he doesn’t “see a conspiracy behind every curtain, as some of my colleagues do.”

“There was a threat by one individual against another. That individual went to the FBI in the pursuit of that review of that threat. They came upon access to emails of Mr. Petraeus and — with this individual, and they are concerned that maybe that his personal emails had been hacked and, therefore, the possibility of a security threat,” Menendez said. “And I think that if that is the sequence of events, that’s perfectly understandable. Obviously, you know, there was a discussion between Jim Clapper and Petraeus. And there was a decision by General Petraeus that it was in his best interest of himself, the agency, and his family to resign.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on Fox News Sunday that the news was “like a lightning bolt” with no advance notice to the committees that, by law, are supposed to be informed of any significant development in the intelligence sector.

Feinstein confirmed there will be a committee inquiry into why the FBI sat on the news of the investigation for so long.

“The FBI has briefed me now. I actually wish we had been briefed a little bit earlier so that the full intelligence committee — one of the things I’ve tried to do, Chris, is bring both sides together. So, my vice chairman, Saxby Chambliss, and I share material and work together and that’s a very important concept,” she said. “With neither of us knowing ahead of time, all of this, obviously, comes as a big shock.”

Feinstein said she only found out when her office began receiving calls from the media about the Petraeus affair. A Friday afternoon appointment she had with the disgraced director was then canceled.

“This is something that could have had an effect on national security. I think we should have been told. There is a way to do it,” she said. “And that is, just to inform the chair and the vice chairman of both committees, to — this has happened before, not with precise, same things, but, none of the four of us have ever breached that confidentiality.”

The Associated Press reported this afternoon that the State Department’s liaison to the military’s Joint Special Operations Command allegedly received the harassing emails from Petraeus biographer Paula Broadwell that triggered an FBI investigation. The FBI probe into the complaint began several months ago.

Bridget Johnson is a career journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.
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