Veteran FBI agent started Petraeus inquiry

MICHAEL S SCHMIDT, SCOTT SHANE & ALAIN DELAQUÉRIÈRE

The FBI agent who spurred the investigation that led to the resignation of David H Petraeus as CIA director is a "hard-charging" veteran who helped investigate the foiled millennium terrorist plot in 1999, colleagues said on Wednesday.

The agent, Frederick W Humphries II, 47, is also described by former colleagues as relentless in his pursuit of what he sees as wrongdoing, which appears to describe his role in the FBI investigation involving Petraeus. Suspecting that the case involved serious security issues and was being stalled, possibly for political reasons — a suspicion his superiors say was unjustified — he took his concerns to the Congressional Republicans.

"Fred is a passionate kind of guy," one former colleague said. "He's kind of an obsessive type. If he locked his teeth onto something, he'd be a bulldog."

The question of how and why the FBI opened the investigation that has had such momentous consequences has been central from the moment Petraeus stepped down Friday.

The emerging portrait of the agent who initiated the inquiry is another step toward an answer.

Humphries, who was identified on Wednesday by law enforcement colleagues, took the initial complaint from Jill Kelley, a Tampa woman active in local military circles and a personal friend, about anonymous e-mails that accused her of inappropriately flirtatious behaviour toward Petraeus.

The subsequent cyberstalking investigation uncovered an extramarital affair between Petraeus and Paula Broadwell, his biographer, who agents determined had sent the anonymous e-mails.

It also ensnared Gen. John R Allen, commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, after FBI agents discovered what a law enforcement official said on Wednesday were sexually explicit e-mail exchanges between him and Kelley.

Defense Secretary Leon E Panetta sidestepped a question at a news conference in Bangkok on Thursday about whether the e-mail exchanges between General Allen and Kelley were sexually explicit. "What I don't want to do is try to characterize those communications," Panetta said.

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