The Petraeus scandal has taken a terrifying turn. The ever-widening circle of dark and shifty characters involved in the CIA sexcapade now includes figures associated with the Lincoln Group, the secretive Iraq and Afghanistan propaganda contractor famous for paying Iraqi newspapers to run fake pro-American news stories. Which means that it also extends to a furtive, enigmatic, foreign-born media titan whose closely held firm is busily extending its tendrils into the national consciousness: Gawker Media founder Nicholas Guido Denton. Let me explain.
Jill Kelley is the "honorary consul" and Tampa socialite whose close friendship with Petraeus initially attracted Paula Broadwell's ire, and who called in the FBI when she started receiving Broadwell's threatening emails.
Natalie Khawam is Jill Kelley's twin sister. They are very close, and appear to both have equally close relationships with Petraeus and Gen. John Allen, who is also under investigation for "flirtatious" email traffic with Kelley. Both Petraeus and Allen wrote letters of support for Khawam in her ongoing custody battle with her ex-husband.
That ex-husband is Grayson Wolfe, a former Bush Administration flunkie who served in Iraq with the Coalition Provisional Authority and now a partner in Akkadian Private Ventures, a Washington, D.C.-based private equity firm specializing in "infrastructure projects" in emerging markets.
Akkadian Private Ventures was co-founded by a man namedf Christian Bailey (legally changed from the original Christian Josefowicz). Bailey, a British ex-pat, co-founded the Lincoln Group shortly after the invasion of Iraq in order to harvest millions of dollars in Pentagon contracts for "information operations"—propaganda directed at hostile populations throughout the Middle East and South Asia. He later founded Akkadian with Lincoln Group money. As a partner in Akkadian, Khawam's ex-husband worked out of the Lincoln Group's offices and was essentially an employee under the group's corporate umbrella.
Bailey is an old chum of—and once embarked on a lengthy drive across the American heartland with—none other than Nick Denton, the owner of the web site you are reading right now. According to Fortune, Bailey's "circle includes such notables as New York Times writer Jennifer 8. Lee and Gawker Media chief Nick Denton." Both Bailey and Denton have personally confirmed their friendship to me.
Denton, who has occasionally been the subject of his employees' sex dreams, could not immediately be reached for comment. I intend to ask him about his role in the Petraeus Affair tonight, at a party he is hosting in honor of Nate Silver, the statistics whiz who just played an instrumental role in the American presidential election. That's how deep this goes.
Check back here for updates. If you don't see any, it means Denton shut us down.
[Image by Jim Cooke]