White House: FBI ‘Protocols’ Kept Obama From Learning of Petraeus Affair Before Election

November 13, 2012 - 4:13 PM

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White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. (AP)

(CNSNews.com) – FBI protocol determined when the president of the United States would be told that his director of the Central Intelligence Agency was engaged in an adulterous affair, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Tuesday.

At the briefing, a reporter asked, “Jay, this investigation has been going on for months. How is it that the White House didn't have any idea of this until after the day after election, and Congress a few days later?”

Carney said, “Well, I would refer you to the FBI. They have, as I understand it, protocols in place for when they notify the legislative and executive branches of investigations. And it's simply a fact that the White House was not aware of the situation regarding General Petreaus until Wednesday and the situation regarding General Allen until Friday. So, the FBI is the place to go in terms of an explanation of the protocols they follow. But I understand that is the answer that they will give, that is the protocols that they follow, that govern how they inform the various branches of government  of these kinds of investigations.”

On Friday, retired four-star Gen. David Petraeus resigned as CIA director after revelations of an extramarital affair that started in 2011, if not earlier. Carney said the White House learned of the matter on Wednesday, Nov. 7, the day after Obama was reelected to a second term as president.

Gen. John Allen, commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, is also under investigation by the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General for allegations of sending inappropriate emails.

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President Barack Obama and Gen. David Petraeus. (AP)

“It is simply a fact that the White House was not aware of the situation regarding Gen. Petraeus until Wednesday and the situation regarding Gen. Allen until Friday,” Carney said at the Tuesday press briefing. “So, the FBI is the place to go as far as any explanation of the protocols they follow. But I understand that is the answer they would give. There are protocols they follow that govern how they inform various branches of government on these kinds of investigations.”

On another question of timing, Petraeus was initially expected to testify to Congress about the intelligence lapses involved in the assault on the Benghazi compound in Libya that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.

A reporter followed, “But you do you understand how people would find this utterly bizarre? The day after election? And the anger that you are hearing on Capitol Hill that this was going on, at least the timing, the appearance.”

Carney responded, “Look, all I can tell you is when the White House was informed and I would let the relevant members of Congress explain to you how and when they were informed. My understanding is there are protocols the FBI follows with regards to these kinds of notifications. I would refer you to the FBI and the Department of Justice for explanations on those protocols.”

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Paula Broadwell, author, who had an adulterous affair with CIA Director David Petraeus. (AP)

CNSNews.com contacted the FBI and the Justice Department by phone. Each staff member in the public affairs office asked for a written question. CNSNews.com sent questions by e-mail, quoting Carney’s comments and asking the following: “Could you provide a general explanation of what the protocols are for when the White House would be notified of an investigation into the CIA Director or an investigation of a senior level official?  Was this entirely about protocol, or was there anything specific about this case?”

Neither the Justice Department nor the FBI, a division of the Justice Department, responded to those questions before this story was posted.

During the press briefing, another reporter later asked whether President Obama was satisfied with the protocols, or if he thought they should be revisited.

“This is a pretty unique situation. But as far as the protocols themselves and how they were adopted and how they were followed, I’d have to refer you to the FBI.