Broadwell, a married Army reservist, frequently visited Petraeus in Afghanistan when he was in charge of the war there. She repeatedly sought records that she said Petraeus wanted her to have, according to the former staff members and officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the inquiry is ongoing.
The focus on the role of military staff members adds a new chapter to the complicated ethics scandal that led Petraeus to abruptly resign as CIA director on Nov. 9. His affair with Broadwell also has put the personal communication of Marine Gen. John R. Allen, Petraeus’s successor as commander of the Afghan war, under scrutiny by the Pentagon.
Petraeus and Broadwell have told FBI investigators that Petraeus did not provide her with classified information, law enforcement officials said. Attorneys for the two declined to respond to specific questions for this article, as did Broadwell’s spokeswoman, Dee Dee Myers of the Glover Park Group. FBI officials also declined to comment.
The investigation of the origins of classified material in Broadwell’s possession began in the summer as part of a routine FBI inquiry into harassing e-mails sent to a woman in Tampa. The messages warned the woman, socialite Jill Kelley, to stay away from Petraeus and were traced to anonymous accounts set up by Broadwell, according to law enforcement officials involved in the case.
The investigation uncovered e-mails between Petraeus and Broadwell that exposed their affair and led to his resignation. The inquiry also turned up questionable e-mails between Kelley and Allen, who, like Petraeus, had met the Tampa woman while serving at U.S. Central Command, known as Centcom.
The initial investigation focused on whether Broadwell’s harassment of Kelley constituted a crime. But the early e-mails showed that the sender had access to detailed schedules for Petraeus and Allen, which raised concern about possible national security violations.
Broadwell turned over her computer to the FBI in late summer, and agents discovered that it contained low-level classified material. On Nov. 12, the FBI searched her home in Charlotte and carried away additional evidence that she had classified documents, law enforcement officials said.
The documents have been described as sensitive but relatively benign. Officials who have been briefed on them said they were mostly schedules and PowerPoint presentations classified as “secret.”
In piecing together how Broadwell came to possess the material, FBI investigators have sought to determine whether it was provided by aides to Petraeus when he was head of Centcom in Tampa from 2008 to June 2010 or when he was commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan from July 2010 to July 2011. He resigned from the Army to become CIA director in September 2011.