If you try to understand the timing of the matter, it's important to note the timing of certain things involving the affair itself. It is pretty clear that things began, so to speak, while Paula Broadwell was an embedded reporter in Afghanistan. Paul Mirengoff makes an interesting observation:
[I]t seems that the affair started before Petraeus became the director of the CIA. The background check on Petraeus when he was being considered for the CIA job must have been incredibly thorough. And, since an affair with an embedded reporter would probably have been difficult to keep fully secret, even an ordinary investigation might well have uncovered word of it.
Thus, it may be that the White House knew of the General’s affair before he became the DCIA.
You'd certainly like to think that a background check would have revealed this, especially since the head of the CIA would be a prime target for blackmail.
The folks up on Capitol Hill are wondering about all this, too:
The top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee said Sunday that the length of the FBI's investigation into David Petraeus' extramarital affair raises serious questions about the government's response to potentially comprised intelligence.
Rep. Peter King, who made the remarks on CNN's "State of the Union," joined Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in expressing concern over how the FBI and other federal agencies handled the investigation into the former CIA director’s affair, and specifically why members of Congress with oversight over intelligence and homeland security weren't briefed on the discoveries.
"I have questions about the whole matter," Rep. Peter King told CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley, pointing to reports that the White House first learned of the affair in a phone call from the FBI to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper at 5 p.m. on election night.
You would think the White House would have known about this before that point, considering how serious a matter it is. At a minimum, it doesn't speak well of the FBI. There's more, of course:
On Saturday, questions arose about why congressional leaders were not informed of the investigation immediately.I think so, too, Senator Feinstein. Rep. King makes the salient point:
According to a congressional aide familiar with the matter, the House and Senate intelligence committees weren't informed that there was an FBI investigation into Petraeus until Friday.
Feinstein said on “Fox News Sunday” she wished intelligence officials had briefed her and other members of her committee earlier in their investigation.
“We received no advanced notice. It was like a lightning bolt,” Feinstein said, adding she thought the Petraeus affair was “something that could have had an effect on national security.”
“I think we should have been told,” the California Democrat said.
"It just doesn't add up," King, R-New York, said on CNN. "You have this type of investigation. The FBI investigating e-mails, the e-mails leading to the CIA director, and taking four months to find out that the CIA director was involved. I have real questions about this. I think a timeline has to be looked at and analyzed to see what happened."
The president should have been alerted far sooner if sensitive information had been compromised, King said, particularly since the investigation involved the nation's top intelligence chief.
"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."
It's difficult to argue that point. We'll get the answers eventually, but there's a lot that's troubling about what we know. You don't have to invent a scandal out of the particulars, because it's easy enough to imagine that the longtime rivalry between the FBI and the CIA might have had much to do with how things played out -- the two agencies have been sandbagging each other since the 1940s. I'd like to know the timeline.