Petraeus, Broadwell Used al-Qaeda Trick to Hide Emails
But their approach didn't fool the FBI
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 13, 2012 6:46 AM CST
This July 13, 2011, photo made available on the International Security Assistance Force's Flickr website shows David Petraeus shaking hands with Paula Broadwell.   (AP Photo/ISAF)

(Newser) – David Petraeus and Paula Broadwell attempted to keep much of their communication secret by using a trick popular with both teens and terrorists, the AP reports: They shared an email account and saved unsent draft messages to one another, so both could log on and read them. The tactic, which is used by al-Qaeda, leaves a much fainter trace than actually sending messages. The Washington Post calls it a "well-worn online trick" that has "been around for quite some time"—it was even featured in a 2008 spy movie—and thus it didn't fool FBI investigators.

The AP also reports that Petraeus was "shocked" when he learned that Broadwell allegedly sent threatening emails to Jill Kelley, the woman who eventually set off the FBI investigation. Those emails were said to contain "stay away from my man" type warnings, according to the AP, but a source tells the Daily Beast that's not so. Yes, the emails included "kind of cat-fight stuff," but they were "more like, 'Who do you think you are? ... You parade around the base ... You need to take it down a notch,'" the source says, and they included just one passing reference to Petraeus. Kelley was apparently disturbed by the emails, which were sent anonymously, but the FBI found no evidence of actual threats and almost decided not to pursue the case. Click for the latest from the Petraeus scandal.