The FBI’s Surprisingly Thorough Investigation of Some Harassing Emails

The Wall Street Journal provides an extra bit of detail today on the David Petraeus case. It all started in May, when Jill Kelley complained to an FBI agent she knew about receiving a series of harassing emails:

Agents spent weeks piecing together who may have sent them. They used metadata footprints left by the emails to determine what locations they were sent from. They matched the places, including hotels, where Ms. Broadwell was during the times the emails were sent. FBI agents and federal prosecutors used the information as probable cause to seek a warrant to monitor Ms. Broadwell’s email accounts.

….They learned that Ms. Broadwell and Mr. Petraeus had set up private Gmail accounts to use for their communications, which included explicit details of a sexual nature, according to U.S. officials. But because Mr. Petraeus used a pseudonym, agents doing the monitoring didn’t immediately uncover that he was the one communicating with Ms. Broadwell.

That’s not a trivial amount of work. The FBI team spent weeks (months?) tracing email metadata, which requires court permission. Once they figured out the emails had come from Broadwell, they began tracking her movements. Then they went to court to get a warrant to read her email. Then they apparently got a warrant to monitor a second email account belonging to someone Broadwell was having an affair with. It turned out to be Petraeus.

Wow. What kind of juice does Kelley have? This sure seems like a helluva lot more than your ordinary FBI attention to some harassing emails.

MORE HARD-HITTING JOURNALISM

In 2014, before Donald Trump announced his run for president, we knew we had to do something different to address the fundamental challenge facing journalism: how hard-hitting reporting that can hold the powerful accountable can survive as the bottom falls out of the news business.

Being a nonprofit, we started planning The Moment for Mother Jones, a special campaign to raise $25 million for key investments to make Mother Jones the strongest watchdog it can be. Five years later, readers have stepped up and contributed an astonishing $23 million in gifts and future pledges. This is an incredible statement from the Mother Jones community in the face of huge threats—both economic and political—against the free press.

Read more about The Moment and see what we've been able to accomplish thanks to readers' incredible generosity so far, and please join them today. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 total, during this critical moment for journalism.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.