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As their secret dissolved, Petraeus, Broadwell chatted at awards dinner

James Brantley

Multiple sources tell NBC News the woman with her back to the camera in the top photo is Paula Broadwell. She is pictured at a reception prior to the annual OSS Society awards dinner in Washington on Oct. 27, speaking to a man who is nearly obscured in the photo. The photographer and a senior U.S. intelligence official tell NBC News that the man is Gen. David Petraeus, also attended the event. The photo below, taken approximately a minute later, shows Petraeus speaking to one of the unidentified guests in the first photo.

Two weeks before his resignation as CIA Director, David Petraeus and his biographer, Paula Broadwell, met at an event honoring one of Petraeus' predecessors, NBC News has learned. It is the last known meeting between the two before the scandal that cost Petraeus his job went public and occurred after Broadwell had admitted to the FBI the two had an extramarital affair, according to multiple government and law enforcement officials. 

One senior U.S. intelligence official who attended the event – the annual Office of Strategic Services Society awards dinner -- tells NBC News that he saw the two speak to each other at the Oct. 27 event. The official did not know details of the conversation.


And photographer James Brantley, who worked the event, said he is certain the two spoke, based on the photos above, which he estimated were taken about a minute apart. The first shows Broadwell speaking to a man who is nearly obscured in the photo, as two unidentified guests look on. The second, taken from a different position, clearly shows Petraeus speaking to one of the other guests from the first photo.

The duo’s presence at the same event was first reported by the conservative weekly Human Events, which said they attended together. But numerous partygoers interviewed by NBC News disputed that.

Still, their public proximity raised eyebrows after the events of last week unfolded.

Said one former senior U.S. intelligence official who attended, “It’s mind-boggling that she could be so reckless as to show up at high-profile events like this, shortly after learning the FBI was investigating their affair.” 

Charles T. Plinck, director of the OSS Society, did not return phone calls seeking comment from NBC News.

Email to Gen. Allen among those Kelley gave to FBI

The event came more than a month after Broadwell was first interviewed by the FBI following discovery of compromising emails that ultimately led to Petraeus' resignation on Nov. 9.  Days after the event, the FBI would interview Petraeus for the first time and Broadwell for a second time. The event also occurred about four months after the two reportedly broke off their 10-month affair.

ISAF via Reuters file

Meet the people who have been pulled into the scandal that caused Gen. David Petraeus to resign.

The dinner is the annual award ceremony of the OSS Society, a group dedicated to honoring veterans of the Office of Strategic Services, the World War II predecessor to the Central Intelligence Agency. Petraeus, who sources described as being in a "great mood" that night, gave one of the speeches honoring former CIA director and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, the recipient of this year's William Donovan Award, named for the director of the OSS.

The dinner is one of the intelligence community's most high-profile events. It attracts top U.S. and international intelligence officials, former directors of the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies.  In addition to Petraeus and Gates, others who attended included John Bennett, director of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service; William Webster, former head of both the CIA and FBI; Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Ambassador Hugh Montgomery, former director of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research.

Robert Windrem is a senior investigative producer with NBC News.

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