Paula Broadwell, Petraeus biographer, at center of scandal

November 9, 2012 (CHICAGO)

In this Intelligence Report: The backstory of an American hero's fall from glory.

After decades in the military, years as a battlefield commander and considering his position as the head of America's spy agency, David Petraeus no doubt was familiar with the term "honey trap," the use of an affair as blackmail. Whatever motivated Petraeus to put national security at risk, he has paid the price by ending an otherwise stellar service career.

It was less than six months ago that retired General Petraeus accepted Mayor Rahm Emanuel's invitation and came to Chicago to lead the annual Memorial Day parade.

"It's a huge thrill," Petraeus said. "The mayor, hizzoner, hit me up in Washington a couple of months ago at some event, and I said I'd be honored to do it. I've always been impressed by this city."

Petraeus's appearance at the parade came a just a few months into his reign as director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Most of his career had been spent in uniform, eventually becoming a four-star general and commanding the U.S. presence in Afghanistan.

But then President Barack Obama shifted the 60-year-old Petraeus to the CIA to oversee the nation's intelligence service 10 years after the terror attacks on 9/11.

Petraeus's public service ended Friday with the general's sudden departure after an illicit affair breached his marriage of 37 years and his professional responsibility as the nation's top spy.

"The timing is curious," said U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam, the Republican who represents Chicago's northwest and west suburbs. "You've gotta kind of scratch your head in terms of its relationship to the election. I would say it's probably better in some ways to hear about it after the election than before. I think it would have created a lot of confusion at that point."

Although Petraeus didn't name the woman with whom he was involved -- and in accepting his resignation President Obama didn't mention the reason at all -- it has been learned that Petraeus's biographer, Paula Broadwell, is at the center of the scandal.

Broadwell is a Harvard PhD candidate who says she was embedded with Petraeus for her dissertation and eventually wrote a biography about him.

The author, who lives in North Carolina, is married to a doctor and has two children, has not made any public statements.

General Petraeus has not been available to answer questions as well. His top deputy Michael Morell, will take over as acting CIA director.

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