L'affaire Petraeus: second woman identified, and Gmail metadata outed Broadwell and Petraeus


101 Responses to “L'affaire Petraeus: second woman identified, and Gmail metadata outed Broadwell and Petraeus”

  1. sdmikev says:

    I’m going to have to go back and watch that Daily Show interview again online and see about a little twinkle in the paramour’s eye..  These two are quite a pair.  One surrounded by yes men and one with daddy issues – somehow they found love.  Or something..

  2. grimc says:

    So that NYT letter could’ve come from the other husband. Heh.

  3. Spinkter says:

    “The FBI questioned Broadwell, asked for and received her computer, found classified documents, and determined that they hadn’t come from Petraeus—so, there had been no national security breach, and no criminal charges were filed.”

    WTF? That doesn’t sound right. The mere fact that classified documents resided on an unclass laptop is in itself a security breach — the kind that gets people fired and thrown in jail.

  4. Rindan says:

    I suppose hoping and wishing that all forms of media will find something actually worth caring about that is more important to worry than a PG-13 sex scandal is hoping for too much?  I wonder if setup Google news so that it only shows world interest stories if I can get a trickle of non-sex scandal news?

    Damn you Patraeus.  Why couldn’t you have just been busted for bribery or incompetence?  They would have moved on in days.  Why did it have to be a SEX scandal!?  Damn you…   DAMN YOU!  

    • Xeni Jardin says:

      The sex part is just the shiny object. If you squint a little and avoid that blinding sex-light, the real news is in the shadows. There is plenty of real news in this story, and that is why I am blogging about it. If you don’t like it, don’t comment. Watch a kitten video.

      • Spinkter says:

        Agreed.  Something hidden smells very fishy….

      • Westfakia says:

        If we don’t comment, how will you know we don’t like it? 

        There might be a *sliver* of news in the coverage here that isn’t going to be seen elsewhere, but to my mind, the signal to noise ratio just isn’t worth it. Obviously, YMMV.

      • Rindan says:

        My panties aren’t in a twist over BoingBoing covering it.  GMail meta data being used, crazy republican conspiracy theories, and even just a good old fashion connecting the dots is all perfectly worthy BoingBoing material.  My annoyance is that ALL news feeds that are not specifically tech-centric are spammed with this.  

        I don’t mind coverage, I just hope that the mainstream media finds the details and then gets bored quickly.  I’ll cry myself to sleep each night if any of those lurid e-mails get out.  Naughty sexy Petraeus e-mails with no national security substance?  The media will never let go.  We won’t even notice when we fly off the fiscal cliff and the world economy tanks, much less care who is now running China.

        • Xeni Jardin says:

          Everyone will burn out on this in a few days, and then P4 will get a TV show, possibly co-hosted with Eliot Spitzer. Move along, sheeple.

        • strangefriend says:

          Rindan, I was going to like your comment until I read your ‘fiscal cliff’ comment.  The world economy would tank because Europe has embraced austerity when it should have done stimulus .  Embrace the Keynesianism, dude!

          • Rindan says:

            Fear not (or, um, fear more?), both the EU and the US can tank the world economy. The US fiscal cliff is when a pile of tax cuts suddenly vanish while at the same time some BRUTAL spending cuts go into place. It was a suicide congress signed into law in the laughable naive attempt to try and force itself to deal with the budget. It is not just austerity, it is a blatant suicide pact. It will slice off percentage points of the US GDP, turn off pretty much the stimulus from social welfare programs, gut the government, and raise taxes on everyone pretty much all at once. It happens in January unless congress does something. Everyone, left, right, whatever, agrees it is a very bad thing. Despite this, the compromise to prevent it is elusive. Both parties have to agree in the US system at least a little, so it takes just one side to dig in their heels.

            The problem is that if the US jumps off a fiscal cliff, it drags the entire world with it. The US economy is just so damned big and the dollar so tied into the world economy that when the US goes belly up, it drags the rest of the world with it.

            So, the EU certainly has problems and can sink the world economy, but those are slow moving mountains of doom that will slowly drag us down over a period of time. The US fiscal cliff that could usher in a world wide Econopocolypse Part 2 hits in less than two months. You should have EU doom in the back of your mind, but the US fiscal cliff should have you in a panic now, regardless of where you live. If a few hundred old rich white guys (and a few token minorities and women) don’t suddenly find a compromise NOW, you, where you live in the world, are totally screwed.

          • Ito Kagehisa says:

             I don’t mean to be rude, but wouldn’t it have been more concise to just say “The sky is falling, the sky is falling?”

      • If it was just any general, I think it’d vanish from the headlines pretty quickly.

        But it’s Petraeus, who was reputed to be some kind of sparkly unicorn of military rectitude. So that contrast alone will keep it in the news.

        Unfortunately it also intersects with the Benghazi “coverup” that Republicans are trying to make into a real thing.

        *That* might well mean we’ll be hearing about it for the next four years, from “Benghazi truthers”.

      • Paul Renault says:

         I was hoping that someone would be raising suspicions here. 

        Was the affair publicized so that Petraeus would end up not testifying before Congress?  Cherchez la femme, eh?

      • Speakatus Sparkatus says:

         Seems like there are several news stories in the shadows:
        1. From what’s been reported, it doesn’t seem like the initial half-dozen emails Kelley received were worthy of an FBI investigation, much less an extended one. What was the initial federal crime again? Other than misappropriation of resources by Kelley’s FBI friends?
        2. How did they get metadata of *other* email accounts?
        3. Once they found out who was actually sending the emails to Kelley, how come charges weren’t filed? Wasn’t that the point of opening the investigation?
        4. Were CIA agents really holding Libyans?
        5. Who leaked details of an investigation to Legislators? Hasn’t Obama’s been the most anti-whistleblower administration in forever?

    • MurasakiMadness says:

      Man, I remember when the whole Lewinsky thing broke. I was a teenager, and so conflicted between “this isn’t my business” and “WOAH!”. Parents may have the porn channels scrambled, but there’s always the morning paper…

  5. MiG says:

    What’s this gmail location metadata all about?  How do you find it?  Is it in the headers of an e-mail? huh?

    • Tela says:

      I spend so much time professionally trying to convince people why metadata matters and here’s yet another example. 

      • MiG says:

        Ok, but I still don’t get it.  I just sent a gmail message to another account, and I’m looking at the raw source of the message.  Where’s the location data?  

        • mpb says:

           IP addresses and time

          • MiG says:

            Ok, but gmail doesn’t actually record the IP addresses of the client computer. Other e-mail services certainly do, but gmail doesn’t for some reason. Just the server computer, and that doesn’t give you location data.
            For example, in the test e-mail that I sent earlier, it recorded “Received: by with HTTP; Sun, 11 Nov 2012 19:45:34 -0800 (PST)” — the IP address is, presumably, the internal IP address of the gmail server, not *my* address. And it even got the time zone wrong. There are no other IP addresses in the header or the raw source of the e-mail.
            So am I missing something?

            To me, seeing this described as “gmail metadata” reminds me of the “we’ll build a tracing program in Visual Basic” or “enhance, enhance.” I still don’t see how it’s possible to determine the location of a person using just their gmail headers, without Google’s cooperation.

          • IndexMe says:

            It is conceivable that gmail internally stores or links your mail to information google knows about the computer on which you are reading gmail. So it is possible gmail might store the ip address of the computer used to read each message, it might help them target advertising or something.

        • Tela says:

          See comment below (elondaits) about the specific metadata used to trace and link the messages to Broadstone. I was speaking more generally about how people have gotten themselves into trouble over metadata still attached to digital files or e-mails. In general it’s hard to convince my clients that they need to educate themselves and be concerned about metadata because it sounds like such trivial/dry topic. As with records management, people don’t generally care about it until after the shit has hit the legal fan.

          • MiG says:

            I totally agree with you on this, BTW.  

            For example, how much detail is attached to an iPhone photo.

          • Tela says:

            It’s definitely an intersection between how much “enhancements” companies are adding to technologies for social media sharing and the level of comfort/lack of knowledge people have = inadvertently releasing this information. At the very least, the next time somebody in management or IT asks me why they should care about metadata, this is a good example to mention versus a court case they probably haven’t heard about.

            On a side note, I’ve gone through the interview and exam process for the Foreign Service and in reading about Broadstone’s ambitions of becoming a foreign policy advisor, I don’t know if I’m more appalled by how she tried to achieve this career goal or again, the fact that it all blew up because she was so completely dumb about technology.

          • Ito Kagehisa says:

            I don’t know what format the iPhone uses, but most of the image formats have tremendous metadata carrying capabilities.  For instance, they might include lens type, photographer, date, latitude and longitude, cardinal facing (N/S/E/W) or a bazillion other things, depending on what the format is and how much of the format Apple decided to bother with in any particular iPhone software release.

            The only way to be sure is to break down the image with professional tools and examine it.  Then you will know, at least until the next software update, when you’ll have to do it again.

            Personally, I always assume all communication is monitored and all images are traceable.

        • Ito Kagehisa says:

          It’s in the mail log at google, which they can cross-reference by the messageID that was assigned to your email.  See my other reply to your question for more details.  Here’s a notional example, though:

          protocol: SMTP
          date: 13 Nov 2012 02:42:11GMT
          messageID: <FTEXCHANGEtMumY2MIa000052c7@ftexchange.getdubai.com>
          interface: Outside (IP xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx)
          incoming connection from sender IP: (insurance.getgroup.com)
          reverse DNS host insurance.getgroup.com verified: no
          helo identity: postmaster@ftexchange.getdubai.com
          SPF: tempfail
          DKIM: none
          spamassassin score: 8
          sophos antivirus: negative
          clamav: negative

          This example, mostly pulled from a real mail log entry (not at Google, mailserver IP address x’ed out) shows that someone connected from a host at and the first thing they said was “hello, I’m postmaster ftexchange.dubai.com!” (which is a name that does not resolve to anything, incidentally.  It’s probably a zombie’d Microsoft Exchange system in Dubai that isn’t supposed to be talking to the Internet).  If you look up the IP address in reverse, you get insurance.getgroup.com, but if you look up insurance.getgroup.com, you get a completely different IP.  There is no useful SPF or DKIM.  Spamassassin says it’s spam.  No viruses according to Sophos, and although Sophos is lame, also no viruses according to Clam.  We’ve got enough here to know it’s a spammer, like 90%+ of all email is.

          Typing this in Disqus was a painful experience… sorry about the spurious links and noise, I tried to make it stop, but it’s a really bad interface for technical data…

    • Ito Kagehisa says:

      The Simple Mail Transfer Protocal (SMTP is the definition of internet email) specifies both an envelope and a message.  The three major components of an email system are Mail Transfer Agents (which are mail hubs, so you can think of them as post offices), Mail Delivery Agents, and Mail User Agents (also called mail clients or mail readers.

      It’s important to understand that only MTAs get the envelope.  The headers that an email recipient can see using an MUA like gmail’s web page are not the envelope – you have no access to the envelope unless you are an email administrator.

      This might explain to you how come you sometimes get mail that has someone else’s email address in the To: field of the message headers – it’s because message headers are part of the message, and not part of the envelope.  The envelope alone is what determines who will receive the message.  A lot of the headers are noise to an MTA – in particular, the To:, From: and Subject: fields will be ignored by MTAs.

      Now, that being said, MTAs almost always add data to each message they process.  Typically, a received: header line will be added that says “I got this from IP address whatever which claimed to be named this and is actually named that”.  A really good email system will add DKIM and SPF and similar authentication results as well.  But you have to realize these added header lines are trivially spoofable – only the most recent one was added by the last MTA that handled the message, so all previous ones could have been faked up when the message was created.

      SO, there’s some critical metadata in the envelope, which only Google has access to.  And there are some fairly unreliable “chicken tracks” in the headers as well.  If you have the envelope, or the headers are reasonably complete, the unique message ID can also be checked against the mail log, which records the sources and final destinations of all SMTP transactions by IP address.

      Does that help?

      • MiG says:

        The simple answer, I guess, is that the FBI asked Google for the identifying information (IP address, etc). Which, as you suggest, they store and cross-referenced with the unique message ID. And Google provided them with it.
        Some of the articles, however, seemed to suggest that this information is *automatically* included in gmail messages (i.e.: in the header). From what I can see, Google actually includes less information than other e-mail providers in the header. For example, the client IP isn’t included.

        • Ito Kagehisa says:

          Yep, your simple answer is entirely correct.

          And any articles that suggest you can get the IP address of a gmail user’s PC from the headers of a gmail message are wrong, as you already figured out by doing the
          experiment yourself (yay science!).

          And you’re also right about Google’s headers being less useful than most, but that’s mostly because it’s webmail.  If the MTA was bog-standard sendmail (it’s probably tweaked sendmail or postfix) you’d get the same headers.  See, you connect to a google MUA, which is a web server behind a load balancer, it will let you generate a message, which is then sent to a google MTA, possibly on the same host but probably not.  The MTA sees the message as originating from a google host, on a google 10.x.x.x address (because we’re still behind the load balancer, which is distributing connections it receives on an external, IANA portable address, to internal hosts on RFC1918 private addresses using NAT).  Remember, it’s the MTA that stuffs addresses into the headers, and as far as the MTA is concerned that message came from an internal google webserver, it doesn’t know the IP of the PC you used to talk to that webserver.  It would not be a violation of SMTP for the webmail service MUA to put in a received: line with your client PC address, but it would be unusual.

  6. MrJM says:

    I’ll miss America’s favorite warlord.

  7. doniphon says:

    “Bonking?”  I always thought it was “boinking.”

  8. From the New York Times profile:”She is the nice woman in the two-story brick house who wore a costume to hand out candy on Halloween.”

    Probably dressed as Glenn Close.

  9. snipehunt says:

    a mighty general brought low by Gchat. Always  Use Proxy.

  10. MrJM says:

    “Would I be the first person to observe that General Petraeus had a Viagrapher?” — Scott Simon

  11. xpatriate says:

    Jezuz, the guy had codes to the killer drones and he can’t set up a secure line to his sweet petooty? We’re in bigger trouble than I thought. 

  12. elondaits says:

    Nothing special or particular about the “GMail Metadata”. All mail servers add metadata that includes the origin IP address and other server data, and the list of servers the mail was routed through. That information is used for spam detection, breaking mail loops, source verification, etc.

    • MiG says:

      Gmail doesn’t add “the origin IP address” to the e-mail.  I know other servers do, but gmail doesn’t.  Which is weird.  

      Try a test and see if it records your IP address.

      • Luke Sheppard says:

        The FBI probably got the IP addresses of the actual computers connecting to Gmail by issuing a subpoena to Google. It is a pretty standard request these days.

      • Ito Kagehisa says:

        Actually, it does record the address of the machine that created the mail.  Which is going to be 10.x.x.x whatever since the machine that created the mail is a webserver on Google’s internal network, behind a load balancer that does network address translation.

  13. Jake0748 says:

    So… totally off topic and frivolous. But I’ve wondered for a long time now;  Gen. Petraeus’ haircut.. just a really bad military chop (ala Bill from King of the Hill)?  Or REALLY SUPER bad toupee? 

  14. derek prowse says:

    I’m stumped as to why I keep hearing about this story online.  Is it important because
    1.  they’re making the guy eat shit pre-bengazi-testimony?
    2. highlevel power jackal gets laid illicitly?
    3. because metadata?
    4. FBI snoops on the cia?

    I’m missing why this is important, and it’s bugging me.  :[

    • Jake0748 says:

       I’ve been kind of puzzled too. But my guess is that since he’s the head spy of the USA, he knows ALL the secrets, so if he sleeps with some floozy, he’s compromised.  (Who knows, she could be a Soviet/Russian/Iranian/North Korean/Chinese triple-double agent, don’t you know).

      • DrunkenOrangetree says:

         Yea, but presumably he’s also sleeping with his wife. Why do we trust her credentials over those of Broadwell?

        • rattypilgrim says:

           The married newbie with 2 children is more suspect considering at what point in the General’s history she became involved. I’m assuming his wife is watched and cleared by the CIA lo, these many years.

        • snowmentality says:

           Because he wouldn’t be trying to keep it a secret that he’s sleeping with his wife, so no one would be able to use that information to blackmail him. It’s less of a worry that he might give classified information to his mistress, and more of a worry that someone working for a foreign government or organization might say to him “Hey, give me this classified information or I’ll tell everyone you’re boinking your biographer.”

    • DewiMorgan says:

       I came here to ask the same question. I think because sex gets eyeballs.

      Xeni, in comments, seems to be a little unsure, herself. But it’s *potentially* interesting, which is why we’re all here commenting. It has all the right ingredients. It just needs to be put together in the right way by some as yet unrevealed fact.

      Because at the moment, it just seems to be a Clintonesque sex-based blackwash.

    • “FBI snoops on the cia?”

      Seems like the FBI ought to do that. It’s the FBI that does counter-espionage, so I’d think CIA staff ought to just expect that the FBI might be poking through their data once in a while. Otherwise you get Aldrich Ames or (if you’re the UK) Kim Philby.

      But in this case, it seems the FBI didn’t at first know one of the parties involved was the CIA Director.

    • MurasakiMadness says:

      Maybe news outlets have a sweeps week?

  15. Judas Peckerwood says:

    “Like Broadwell, she is attractive…”

    Um, NO and no. Or to put it another way, ICK and slightly less ick. Sorry, Xeni, your taste in women is questionable at best.

  16. RyanMFB says:


    • C says:

      But see for instance a case in federal California Central District court, US v Willems, case number 2:11-cr-01137, where an alleged Hushmail-based drug network was indicted, and Canada-based Hushmail opened their supposed private user data when a US subpoena was honored by a Canadian court….

  17. Michael W. says:

    I for one am just happy to come here and find that no one is throwing down any stupid Benghazi conspiracy theory. It is like an oasis of reasonable discussion…so far.

    I can feel *them* out there, though, pressing in on the gates with their tinfoiled craniums.

  18. Luke Sheppard says:

    Kind of seems like a possible misuse of gov resources that Ms Kelly’s FBI friend “launched an investigation” into what, on the surface, started out looking like plain old cyberstalking. The FBI’s cybercrime teams are way too busy to investigate random cyberstalking cases. What a mess this thing is.

  19. spacedoggy says:

    I don’t get the fanfare over this. Sure this guy was head of the CIA and commanded 2 extremely unpopular wars (if you can even call them that). I also understand that the compromises his leading role as an intelligence agent, and that he had to go. What I don’t get is people drooling the details of what is now being referred to as a scandal!!! the people drooling over it are the same people who whole have called Ken Starr A blood sucking snake during Bill Clintons impeachment process.

    If you don’t like the .mil or the CIA, fair enough, go do something about it, sniggering as Patraeus for slipping up, might make you feel superior for a minute, but nothing changes.

    • ChickieD says:

      These inside the Beltway scandals always amuse me. Political women are so careful to adopt an asexual style of dress, they are the opposite of lascivious. 

      Years ago when Newt Gingrinch was in the news for his affair with his mistress, I happened to end up at the same Inn where he was staying with said mistress. She was a complete and total wonk, in her blue wool suit, sensible heels, and helmet hair (at what, the age of 30, she has this hair?). 

  20. rattypilgrim says:

    Yesterday someone mentioned how Broadwell appeared to be balding. Her hairline seems to be receding more than the General’s. She prides herself on her competitive running, swimming, etc. Just wondering if she uses steroids. Steroids define and strengthen women’s muscles. The side effects however, can include hair loss, aggressive behavior, mood swings, and depression. Could steroids be the reason for Broadwell’s threats to the person she regards “the other woman”,  as  her personal/family life and career crash and burn.

  21. Bokonon says:

    Is the world really no better than Junior High School? Sometimes I really wonder what is meant by the word “Adult”.

  22. Lemoutan says:

    The other woman was soon identified as Paula Broadwell, 40, his protegé, biographer, and paramour.

    Hang on a minute. Now I’m confused. Was she a paramour before she became the other woman? I think we should be told.

  23. shawn feller says:

    When I found out the other person was no other then “Jill Kelley” I was really interested now…then I found out it was NOT Jill Kelley the porn star and got bored…

  24. sqyntz says:

    after seeing that photo, i’d like to know the backstory on all of those beads

  25. Doug Ross says:

    “At the New Yorker, Jane Mayer asks why any of this ended up becoming public, if Petraeus broke no rules.”
    Obviously, Ms. Mayer knows nothing about the requirements for maintaining security clearances, the opportunities for leverage/blackmail, and clandestine sexual operations.

    Which is par for the course for The New Yorker.

    • MrJM says:

      And that adulatory is a violation of Article 134 of the UCMJ with a maximum punishment of dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 1 year.

      But, you know, other than that…

  26. robcat2075 says:

    Suddenly every reporter seems to be coming out with long-sat-on stories about how Petraeus wasn’t as fantastic as they had previously reported.

    What do we have to do to get the stories before events make them purely CYA filings?

  27. Mark Devlin says:

    WeCheck.org has a full wiki (editable) timeline of events: http://wecheck.org/wiki/David_Petraeus_Scandal_Timeline

  28. Still curious how Kelley’s FBI friend connects to Reichert, and wondering how often FBI contractors &/or employees that peer through keyholes, eavesdrop at the table, listen at the transom and over the telephone, monitor electronic communication and crawl under the bed, are involved with a junior member of congress?

  29. I’m not really getting why this infidelity story is getting this much coverage in the media.

    In my view, here’s the only really newsworthy fact about Petraeus: The guy is a war criminal. Why isn’t he in jail?


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