They'll talk again soon.

Photographer: Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

McCain Tells FBI to End Petraeus Probe

Eli Lake is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the senior national security correspondent for the Daily Beast and covered national security and intelligence for the Washington Times, the New York Sun and UPI.
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John McCain, the Republican who will head the Senate Armed Services Committee in the new Congress, wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder today to demand the Justice Department end its two-year investigation into former Central Intelligence Agency Director David Petraeus, one way or the other.

McCain lamented that the Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into the retired general, who stands accused of improperly handling classified information by sharing it with his former mistress and biographer, Paula Broadwell, is still open and active, as we reported yesterday

He questioned the impartiality of administration officials who oversee the investigation and the fairness of the process. (PDF here.)

Without commenting on the underlying merits or anticipating the outcome of the investigation, I can conclude this is a circumstance in which the principle of "justice delayed is justice denied" is certainly at play, and that this matter needs to be brought to resolution. Furthermore, the fact that you and others within your Department have weighed-in publicly on the case raises questions about whether this investigation is being handled in a fundamentally fair and appropriate manner.

Other lawmakers who have called on the Justice Department to resolve the Petraeus case include Representative Jason Chaffetz (the incoming chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform) and Pete Hoekstra, who headed the House Intelligence Committee from 2004 to 2007.

The latest public comment on the investigation came April 8, from Holder, in response to a query from Chaffetz at a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee. Holder said: “All I can say is that this is an ongoing investigation. I'm really not in a position to say much more about it than that.”

Though Petraeus retains his security clearance and has been asked by the White House for his views on national security matters, former officials close to him worry that the ongoing probe has compelled him to limit or rein in his comments on issues with which he is deeply informed, namely terrorism, Iraq and Islamic extremism. 

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To contact the authors on this story:
Eli Lake at elake1@bloomberg.net
Josh Rogin at joshrogin@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor on this story:
Tobin Harshaw at tharshaw@bloomberg.net