As a military intelligence officer in the Army Reserve, Broadwell had a high security clearance, which she mentioned at public events as one of the reasons she was well-suited to write Petraeus's story.
But her access was unsettling to members of the secretive and compartmentalized intelligence agency, where husbands and wives often work in different divisions, but share nothing with each other when they come home because they don't "need to know."
In one incident that caught the CIA staff by surprise, Broadwell posted a photograph on her Facebook page of Petraeus with actress Angelina Jolie, taken in his 7th floor office where only the official CIA photographer is permitted to take photos. Petraeus had apparently given Broadwell the photo just hours after it was taken.
Petraeus' staff in Afghanistan similarly had been concerned about the time Broadwell spent with their boss on her multiple reporting visits to the war zone. Following standard military procedure with senior officers, they almost always had another staffer present when she met with him at his headquarters, though they did have some meetings alone. Military officers close to him insist the affair did not begin when he was in uniform.
In the preface to her book, Broadwell said she first met Petraeus in the spring of 2006. She was a graduate student at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard; he was visiting the university to discuss his experiences in Iraq and a new counterinsurgency manual he was working on.
She had graduated from West Point with academic, fitness, and leadership honors, according to a biography posted on her publisher's website that lists authors available for speaking engagements.
Harvard invited some students to meet with Petraeus, and Broadwell was among them because of her military background, which she wrote included being recalled to active duty three times to work on counterterrorism issues after the Sept. 11 attacks.