Nine journalists have been subpoenaed by a Tampa businesswoman who alleges that the federal government violated her privacy during an investigation that led to the resignation of retired Gen. David H. Petraeus as CIA director in 2012, her attorneys said Tuesday.
The list includes four current or former editors and reporters for The Washington Post — reporters Craig Whitlock and Adam Goldman (formerly of the Associated Press) and former Post editors Rajiv Chandrasekaran and Douglas Frantz — as well as other journalists who were working at the time for the Daily Beast, Associated Press and Fox News.
Jill Kelley and her husband, Scott, filed suit in June 2013 under the Privacy Act, alleging that the FBI, the Defense Department and unnamed government officials improperly leaked their names to the media. The lawsuit seeks damages and an apology.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson last September dismissed allegations by Kelley that officials violated the Constitution by improperly releasing information about her while investigating threatening e-mails that the Kelleys had received from Paula Broadwell. Broadwell was Petraeus’s biographer and a former Army officer who was having an extramarital affair with him.
However, Jackson allowed Kelley to depose government officials and seek records in her Privacy Act claim.
Washington Post spokeswoman Kris Coratti declined to comment.
In a ruling last September, Jackson wrote, “Providing information to the media is not among the list of permissible disclosures listed in the Privacy Act.”
“While it may prove to be the case that the media sensationalized the facts and seasoned its coverage of these events with sexual innuendo on its own, plaintiffs do point to several press accounts that identify the sources as unnamed government or military officials,” Jackson wrote.
Last Wednesday, Jackson ruled that the Kelleys could seek depositions by Oct. 13 from journalists who attributed information about the case to Pentagon officials. She also said that others who cited law enforcement sources could be deposed later, in addition to FBI officials, after she decides on a protective order governing sensitive or confidential information.
In July, Jackson denied a request to depose Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon’s top lawyer at the time of the Petraeus investigation. Kelley’s attorneys needed to exhaust other sources for information — such as reporters — the judge said, before seeking Johnson’s deposition.
The Kelleys acknowledged in court filings that “journalists will not reveal their confidential . . . sources, even after protracted litigation.” However, Jackson said the plaintiffs had not yet shown that reporters’ sources were promised confidentiality or would be unwilling to waive it.
In their lawsuit, the Kelleys point in particular to a Nov. 10, 2012, Washington Post article that identified Jill Kelley as the recipient of the Broadwell e-mails, and reporting four days later by FoxNews.com that characterized e-mails between Kelley and Marine Gen. John Allen, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan who subsequently retired, as sexually explicit. The Defense Department inspector general in 2013 reported that Allen had not committed any wrongdoing.
Frantz is now an assistant secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of Public Affairs.