Home World U.S. News Paula Broadwell, the biographer behind David Petraeus’ resignation

Paula Broadwell, the biographer behind David Petraeus’ resignation

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CIA Director David Petraeus resigned on Friday after allegedly having an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, it has been claimed.

The alleged affair was uncovered after the FBI launched an investigation into the biographer, Paula Broadwell, for allegedly hacking into the former general’s email, NBC News and Slate reported.

Paula Broadwell, who researched the book All In for three years, had extensive access to David Petraeus in Afghanistan. Yet sources told NBC it is unlikely she will face criminal charges after the alleged hacking, stressing that David Petraeus himself is under no investigation.

David Petraeus stepped down yesterday after confessing to cheating on his wife of 37 years, Holly – behavior he explained was “unacceptable” for a senior administration official.

He first met Paula Broadwell six years ago when he addressed students at Harvard University, where she is a researcher, and they eventually got to know each other better during mile-long runs.

Paula Broadwell, who served in the military for more than a decade, lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her radiologist husband, Dr. Scott Broadwell, and their two young sons, Lucien and Landon.

In the biography, Paula Broadwell revealed she first met David Petraeus during his visit to Harvard in spring 2006 when he was a Commander at Fort Leavenworth.

“I was among the students invited by the school to meet with the general at a dinner afterward, because of my military background,” she explained.

“I introduced myself to then–Lieutenant General Petraeus and told him about my research interests; he gave me his card and offered to put me in touch with other researchers and service members working on the same issues.”

Paul Broadwell added that this was not a one-off as he often “does a lot of mentoring”.

As she pursued her PhD in public policy in 2008, she contacted him to ask if she could interview him and they kept in touch via email.

“A few months into my research, General Petraeus, who was then leading Central Command, invited me to go for a run with him and his team along the Potomac River during one of his visits to Washington,” she wrote.

“I figured I could interview him while we ran.”

Paula Bradwell explained that, after earning varsity letters in cross-country and indoor and outdoor track, she wanted to test him to see if he could keep up with her as she interviewed him.

“Instead it became a test for me,” she said.

“As we talked during the run from the Pentagon to the Washington Monument and back, Petraeus progressively increased the pace until the talk turned to heavy breathing and we reached a six-minute-per-mile pace. It was a signature Petraeus move.”

Paula Broadwell served in the military for more than a decade, lives in Charlotte with her radiologist husband, Dr. Scott Broadwell

Paula Broadwell served in the military for more than a decade, lives in Charlotte with her radiologist husband, Dr. Scott Broadwell

Promoting the book on The Daily Show with John Stewart in January, she insisted that these mile-long runs together were nothing out of the ordinary.

“This is a typical mechanism for him to get to know young people,” she said.

“He’s done it throughout his life. That was the foundation of our relationship.”

In another often awkward radio interview in January, host Don Imus said that the pair must have “obviously” liked each other.

She responded: “You know, as I said earlier, he has a number of mentees and that’s one thing that’s different when you compare him to other Senior Commanders.

“But, yeah, we had a lot of rapport. I think some of that comes from a common ground of having gone to West Point [to the U.S. Military Academy].”

Of her reported rival, she added: “He is married to Holly Petraeus, who is a wonderful Military spouse and done so much for their children and for children of fallen soldiers, I respect her immensely.”

The book’s description explains Paul Broadwell conducted research for three years and was “afforded extensive access by General Petraeus, his mentors, his subordinates and his longtime friends”. Its website adds Paula Broadwell was embedded in Afghanistan with David Petraeus for a year between July 2010 and 2011.

Paula Broadwell graduated with honors from the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, and came top of her class in physical fitness. David Petraeus also attended the academy and married his wife Holly there.

She has more than a decade of military service and nearly two decades of work in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency.

Paula Broadwell is studying for her PhD at Kings College in London, and is also a research associate at Harvard University’s Center for Public Leadership. For her studies and the biography, she spent most of 2011 in Afghanistan as an embedded author.

As well as contributing to book chapters, appearing on television interviews and writing opinion pieces for The New York Times and the Boston Globe about leadership and women in defense, she has also worked as a model and demonstrator for KRISS, a .45 caliber machine gun manufacturer.

Last week, Paula Broadwell wrote an article entitled David Petraeus’s Rules for Living in Newsweek.

One read: “We all will make mistakes. The key is to recognize them and admit them, to learn from them, and to take off the rear view mirrors – drive on and avoid making them again.”

David Petraeus had been sworn in as head of the CIA in September 2011 after serving as head of the coalition forces first in Iraq and then in Afghanistan.

President Barack Obama accepted David Petraeus’ resignation but described him as “one of the outstanding General officers of his generation” as he added: “By any measure, through his lifetime of service David Petraeus has made our country safer and stronger.”

Deputy director Michael Morell will serve as acting head of the agency until a permanent replacement for David Petraeus is appointed.

In his resignation letter addressed to CIA agents, david Petraeus wrote that “such behavior is unacceptable” for a senior administration official.

The fact of an affair would not in itself normally merit a resignation, unless the affair created a security risk, for instance if it was with a foreigner or a journalist. Blackmail would also be an issue, though publicly admitting the affair would prevent that.

An affair with a subordinate CIA employee might make a resignation almost inevitable – or it is possible that David Petraeus stepped down because he felt his leadership and integrity had been compromised.

One of the most puzzling aspects of the resignation is its proximity to next week’s congressional hearings on Benghazi, which David Petraeus has said he will not now attend, even though being out of office would not preclude his doing so.

David Petraeus admitted he had shown “extremely poor judgement” in the letter he sent to his CIA colleagues confirming that he was stepping down.

He added that it had been “the greatest of privileges” to work at the agency, saying: “Teddy Roosevelt once observed that life’s greatest gift is the opportunity to work hard at work worth doing.”

David Petraeus, 60, has been married to Holly, née Knowlton, since 1975, after they meet when he was a military cadet at West Point and she was the daughter of the academy’s superintendent.

When he was sworn in as director of the CIA by Vice President Joe Biden, Holly held the Bible on which he swore his oath of office.

Holly Petraeus is head of the Office of Servicemember Affairs, a department of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which is responsible for ensuring members of the military are not taken advantage of by banks and other financial businesses.


The official offered his resignation to Barack Obama on Thursday, and the President accepted the offer on Friday.

Barack Obama issued a statement thanking David Petraeus for his “extraordinary service”, saying he had “served with characteristic intellectual rigor, dedication, and patriotism”.