Broadwell was good at her job, too. “She played to his ego,” as one military officer, an intelligence expert who knows them both, told me. In turn, Petraeus gave her access: She went to Afghanistan so she could write about him. “I got shot at,” she told me, then crouched to show how she had managed to avoid incoming fire, making it seem as exciting and fun as a weekend in Vegas. When Petraeus became director of the CIA, he was muzzled and no longer gave interviews. Yet he allowed Broadwell into the inner sanctum: She went to his office, for example, on the day he met with Angelina Jolie, a journalistic coup that Broadwell touted with a Facebook photo.
After the party at my house in June, Broadwell emailed me: “GREAT to see you, pretty lady, and hope to reconnect during a less hectic time! :)” Months later, her husband invited me to her 40th birthday party in Washington: It was supposed to be on Saturday night. He sent out an email late Friday, the day the scandal broke, saying, “The party is cancelled. Thanks!” Broadwell had once talked to me about her own plans to run for office, but now that is over, along with her career. (Note: I emailed Broadwell and asked for a response to this story, but she declined to comment.)