Associate: Even If Petraeus Began Affair in Afghanistan, He's Unlikely to Be Prosecuted

November 14, 2012 - 9:57 AM

Petraeus Resigns

USMC Gen. John Allen, left, and Army Gen. David Petraeus, top U.S. commander in Afghanistan and incoming CIA Director, greet former CIA Director and new U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, right, as he lands in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, July 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Paul J. Richards, Pool)

(CNSNews.com) - Gen. David Petraeus has told associates that his extramarital affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell began two months after he arrived at the CIA, and he said it ended four months ago.

But even if it began in Afghanistan -- in which case Petraeus is lying -- he's unlikely to be prosecuted, said Colonel Peter Mansoor, who served as General Petraeus's executive officer in Iraq.

Mansoor told Fox News's Greta Van Susteren Tuesday night that he spoke with Petraeus by phone for half an hour on Monday, and Petraeus "indicated that the affair began a couple of months after he got to the CIA."

"But even if there's some sort of indication that it occurred in Afghanistan, I'd be really surprised if anyone tries to prosecute him for it," Mansoor said.

Mansoor also said Broadwell "leveraged her contacts" with Petraeus to "weasel  her way into his inner circle. And it was kind of strange to me that he allowed it to happen."

Van Susteren asked Mansoor if Petraeus, while he was still on active duty, ever had to deal with adultery among his colleagues and underlings:

"No, I wasn't aware of any instances where he had to deal with it," Mansoor responded. "But I want to clarify something. Although adultery is an offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, it is almost never prosecuted as a stand-alone offense. It's always an add-on charge to a more serious offense."

Mansoor argued that the last time the military charged someone with adultery was in 1997, when it discharged Kelly Flinn, the first female bomber pilot in the U.S. Air Force, for lying and disobeying orders. The case was thrown out, he said: "In fact, there were politicians in Washington who said, this is -- this is a travesty. Why are we actually prosecuting this woman?

"So this affair, according to General Petraeus, began after he left the military. But even if there's some sort of indication that it occurred in Afghanistan, I'd be really surprised if anyone tries to prosecute him for it. But I believe him that it began afterwards."

Mansoor also said he believes the Petraeus-Broadwell affair can be explained by the difficulty in transitioning from military to civilian life: "You leave behind the brotherhood and sisterhood of the close fight, your comrades in arms, people who have shared bonds and experiences with you."

Mansoor noted that Petraeus didn't bring any of his team to the CIA--"and so he didn't have anyone he could confide in, really, on a personal level, no one to run with. And Paula Broadwell made herself available to be that close confidante, and one thing led to another and they ended up in a physical relationship. You know, in his time of need, he turned to the wrong person for solace.

"That's my view of what happened," Mansoor said, "and he (Petraeus) didn't counter that."

The Washington Post reported on Monday that Petraeus hoped his affair would stay secret and he could continue his job as CIA director.

Mansoor told the newspaper: "Obviously, he knew about the relationship for months, he knew about the affair, he was in it, so yes, he was not going to resign. But once he knew it was going to go public, he thought that resigning was the right thing to do. There is no way it would have remained private.”

Mansoor said Petraeus blames no one but himself for the affair, and he's now trying to repair his relationship with his wife and children.