By Michael Daly
Broadwell’s notes to Jill Kelley were full of ‘cat-fight stuff,’ a source tells Michael Daly—but there were no overt threats, and Petraeus was barely mentioned. So why did the FBI jump in?
The emails that Jill Kelley showed an FBI friend near the start of last summer were not jealous lover warnings like “stay away from my man,” a knowledgeable source tells The Daily Beast.
The messages were instead what the source terms “kind of cat-fight stuff.”
“More like, ‘Who do you think you are? … You parade around the base … You need to take it down a notch,’” according to the source, who was until recently at the highest levels of the intelligence community and prefers not to be identified by name.
The base described is MacDill Air Force Base in Florida, where Kelley serves as an unpaid “social liaison.” The source reports that the emails did make one reference to Gen. David Petraeus, but it was oblique and offered no manifest suggestion of a personal relationship or even that he was central to the sender’s spite.
Kelley herself seemed mystified as to what was behind the emails, much less who sent them.
“I don’t know who this person is and I don’t want to keep getting them,” she told the FBI, as recounted by the source.
When the FBI friend showed the emails to the cyber squad in the Tampa field office, her fellow agents noted that the absence of any overt threats.
“No, ‘I’ll kill you’ or ‘I'll burn your house down,’” the source says. “It doesn’t seem really that bad.”
The squad was not even sure the case was worth pursuing, the source says.
“What does this mean? There’s no threat there. This is against the law?” the agents asked themselves by the source’s account.
At most the messages were harassing. The cyber squad had to consult the statute books in its effort to determine whether there was adequate legal cause to open a case.
“It was a close call,” the source says.
What tipped it may have been Kelley’s friendship with the agent. The squad opened a case, though with no expectation it would turn into anything significant.
“They weren’t seeing this as the crime of the century,” the source says.
And certainly nobody was looking to do anything that might cause a huge fuss and maybe get them bounced from Tampa. The field office there is a $35 million palace with a second-floor fitness center whose plate-glass windows overlook Tampa Bay, and an eating area that includes an outdoor, screened-in extension for fed al fresco. The closest agents get to that in, say, cold and grimy New York is eating in their cars.
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