SEATTLE — The FBI agent who initiated the investigation that led to the resignation of CIA director David Petraeus said Thursday that a shirtless photograph of him found in the email of Tampa socialite Jill Kelley "was a tongue-in-cheek joke" sent to dozens of friends and acquaintances and was meant to be self-effacing, not sexual.
The picture of Special Agent Fredrick Humphries, which was sent to a reporter at the Seattle Times in 2010, was taken after a "hard workout" with the SWAT team at MacDill Air Force Base. He's posed between a pair of target dummies that have a likeness to the agent. The caption reads, "Which One's Fred?"
Humphries, who works out of the Tampa FBI office, has found himself swept up in the intrigue surrounding revelations that Petraeus was having an affair. The relationship was revealed after Kelley went to Humphries, who is a family friend, with concerns over disturbing emails she had received. That email, it turned out, was sent by Paula Broadwell, Petraeus' lover.
Humphries took Kelley's concerns to the FBI cybercrime division, but later was worried that the FBI was dragging its feet — possibly for political reasons — and took his worries to U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash.
Humphries' actions have resulted in him being internally investigated for sending the picture and reprimanded for interfering in the Kelley investigation.
Humphries has a history of bucking the system on principle, once agreeing to testify for the defense of convicted would-be "millennium bomber" Ahmed Ressam about Ressam's harsh treatment by the agent's colleagues after the 9/11 attacks. He was outspoken in opposing the FBI's decision at the time to turn Ressam over to agents from New York after the attacks, and warned their tough tactics were undoing the cooperation Humphries had coaxed out of Ressam. Humphries found himself sharply criticized within the bureau. He insisted he had done right and owed it to Ressam.
That same sense of right and duty may be what drove Humphries late last month to contact Reichert. Humphries, in a telephone interview on Wednesday, acknowledged he sought out Reichert, through his former boss, retired Seattle FBI Special Agent in Charge Charlie Mandigo, but declined to elaborate. Humphries, 47, said his motives were not political.
He said he sent the photo to Kelley and others in the fall of 2010, shortly after he had transferred to the Tampa office from Guantanamo Bay, where Humphries had been an FBI liaison to the CIA at the detention facility there.
Mandigo confirmed he received a copy of the photo as well and described it as "joking." The photo was sent from a joint personal email account shared by Humphries' wife.
Humphries joined the FBI after serving as an Army infantry and intelligence officer, leaving with the rank of captain. He had been with the FBI for just two years when he was made the case agent in the Ressam investigation, involving a 1999 plan to set off a bomb at Los Angeles International Airport.