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CIA director Petraeus quits over extramarital affair

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 05:39 p.m. HST, Nov 09, 2012

WASHINGTON >> David Petraeus, the retired four-star general renowned for taking charge of the military campaigns in Iraq and then Afghanistan, abruptly resigned Friday as director of the CIA, admitting to an extramarital affair.

The affair was discovered during an FBI investigation, according to officials briefed on the developments. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the matter.

Petraeus carried on the affair with his biographer and reserve Army officer Paula Broadwell, according to several U.S. officials with knowledge of the situation. They spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation that led to the resignation publicly.

The FBI discovered the relationship by monitoring Petraeus' emails, after being alerted Broadwell may have had access to his personal email account, two of the officials said.

Broadwell did not respond to voice mail or email messages seeking comment.

Petraeus' resignation shocked Washington's intelligence and political communities. It was a sudden end to the public career of the best-known general of the post 9/11 wars, a man sometimes mentioned as a potential Republican presidential candidate. His service was effusively praised Friday in statements from lawmakers of both parties.

Petraeus, who turned 60 on Wednesday, told CIA employees in a statement that he had met with President Barack Obama at the White House on Thursday and asked to be allowed to resign. On Friday, the president accepted.

Petraeus told his staffers he was guilty of "extremely poor judgment" in the affair. "Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours."

He has been married for 38 years to Holly Petraeus, whom he met when he was a cadet at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. She was the daughter of the academy superintendent. They have two children, and their son led an infantry platoon in Afghanistan.

Obama said in a statement that the retired general had provided "extraordinary service to the United States for decades" and had given a lifetime of service that "made our country safer and stronger." Obama called him "one of the outstanding general officers of his generation."

The president said that CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell would serve as acting director. Morell was the key CIA aide in the White House to President George W. Bush during the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

"I am completely confident that the CIA will continue to thrive and carry out its essential mission," Obama said.

Administration officials said the White House was first notified about the Petraeus affair on Wednesday, the day after the election. Obama, who returned to the White House that evening after spending Election Day in Chicago, wasn't informed until Thursday morning.

The Senate and House intelligence committees were briefed on Petraeus' resignation only after the news was reported in the media, said a congressional staffer, speaking anonymously because the staffer was not authorized to publicly discuss the sensitive briefings.

The resignation comes at a sensitive time. The administration and the CIA have struggled to defend security and intelligence lapses before the attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three others. It was an issue during the presidential campaign that ended with Obama's re-election Tuesday.

The CIA has come under intense scrutiny for providing the White House and other administration officials with talking points that led them to say the Benghazi attack was a result of a film protest, not a militant terror attack. It has become clear that the CIA was aware the attack was distinct from the film protests roiling across other parts of the Muslim world.

Morell rather than Petraeus now is expected to testify at closed congressional briefings next week on the Sept. 11 attacks on the consulate in Benghazi.

For the director of the CIA, being engaged in an extramarital affair is considered a serious breach of security and a counterintelligence threat. If a foreign government had learned of the affair, the reasoning goes, Petraeus or Broadwell could have been blackmailed or otherwise compromised. Military justice considers conduct such as an extramarital affair to be possible grounds for court-martial.

Failure to resign also could create the perception for the rank and file that such behavior is acceptable.

At FBI headquarters, spokesman Paul Bresson declined to comment on the information that the affair had been discovered in the course of an investigation by the bureau.

Holly Petraeus is known for her work helping military families. She joined the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to set up an office dedicated to helping service members with financial issues.

Though Obama made no direct mention of Petraeus' reason for resigning, he offered his thoughts and prayers to the general and his wife, saying that Holly Petraeus had "done so much to help military families through her own work. I wish them the very best at this difficult time."

Petraeus, who became CIA director in September 2011, was known as a shrewd thinker and hard-charging competitor. Broadwell recently wrote a piece in Newsweek about his management style.

The article listed Petraeus' "rules for living." No. 5 was: "We all make mistakes. The key is to recognize them, to learn from them, and to take off the rear view mirrors — drive on and avoid making them again."

Petraeus told his CIA employees that he treasured his work with them "and I will always regret the circumstances that brought that work with you to an end."

The director of national intelligence, James Clapper, said Petraeus' departure represented "the loss of one of our nation's most respected public servants. From his long, illustrious Army career to his leadership at the helm of CIA, Dave has redefined what it means to serve and sacrifice for one's country."

Other CIA directors have resigned under unflattering circumstances.

CIA Director Jim Woolsey left over the discovery of a KGB mole and director John Deutch left after the revelation that he had kept classified information on his home computer.

Before Obama brought Petraeus to the CIA, the general was credited with salvaging the U.S. war in Iraq.

"His inspirational leadership and his genius were directly responsible — after years of failure — for the success of the surge in Iraq," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Friday.

President George W. Bush sent Petraeus to Iraq in February 2007, at the peak of sectarian violence, to turn things around as head of U.S. forces. He oversaw an influx of 30,000 U.S. troops and moved troops out of big bases so they could work more closely with Iraqi forces scattered throughout Baghdad.

Petraeus' success was credited with paving the way for the eventual U.S. withdrawal.

After Iraq, Bush made Petraeus commander of U.S. Central Command, overseeing all U.S. military operations in the greater Middle East, including Afghanistan and Pakistan.

When the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, was relieved of duty in June 2010 for comments in a magazine story, Obama asked Petraeus to take over in Kabul and the general quickly agreed.

In the months that followed, Petraeus helped lead the push to add more U.S. troops to that war and dramatically boost the effort to train Afghan soldiers and police.

House Homeland Security Chairman Peter King, R-N.Y., said he regretted Petraeus' resignation, calling him "one of America's most outstanding and distinguished military leaders and a true American patriot."

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein also regretted the resignation but gave Morell high marks, too.

Morell had served as deputy director since May 2010, after holding a number of top roles, including director for the agency's analytical arm, which helps feed intelligence into the president's daily brief. He also worked as an aide to former CIA director George Tenet.

"I wish President Obama had not accepted this resignation," Feinstein said of Petraeus, "but I understand and respect the decision."


Associated Press writers Wendy Benjaminson, Ken Thomas, Donna Cassata, Adam Goldman, Eileen Sullivan, Pete Yost and Anne Flaherty contributed to this report.

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HOSSANA wrote:
Unfortunately, one wonders why its difficult to have our youth follow the moral standards of conduct when even adults cannot set good examples.
on November 9,2012 | 09:17AM
RetiredWorking wrote:
Are you a perfect example of good morality. I hope you are, since you're high on the horse.
on November 9,2012 | 12:02PM
false wrote:
This sounds more like 007 cover up. Why would someone of this stature and intelligence in intelligence fail himself? This looks like a sacrificial event for world security. What is going on?
on November 9,2012 | 03:36PM
RichardCory wrote:
Sir, might I interest you in this tinfoil hat?
on November 9,2012 | 06:00PM
Rickyboy wrote:
He was compromised. Our countries security was vulnerable and open to harm by his indiscretion.
on November 9,2012 | 10:02AM
fairgame947 wrote:
You might be assuming a bit much. No mention of when or any other details.
on November 9,2012 | 10:12AM
loquaciousone wrote:
You think it was Mata Hari?
on November 9,2012 | 01:59PM
2disgusted2 wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on November 9,2012 | 06:07PM
honopic wrote:
This post and your others indicate you've had a bad time with at least one Asian woman. Do you really want to compound that issue with this spewing of senseless bile? I hope you come to grips with your demons, 2disgusted2. Just not on our time.
on November 9,2012 | 07:17PM
IEBuzzin wrote:
If it's that bad for you , jump off the pali.
on November 9,2012 | 09:01PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Post-election revelations are amazing, eh? Iran attacks our drone, Benghazi revelations mount, CIA director bails out.......no coincidence at all, people, go back to sleep.
on November 9,2012 | 10:03AM
lokahi808 wrote:
and the big boys on Wall Street no act the same way when convenient to let the facts out after they get their ballout....what would you have done??? LOL
on November 9,2012 | 10:51AM
MakaniKai wrote:
Mahalo Maneki_Neko, I like go moemoe now! Alohazzzzzzzzzzzz
on November 9,2012 | 11:11AM
IEBuzzin wrote:
Too bad, so sad.
on November 9,2012 | 08:59PM
Pocho wrote:
hey, he must be a Republican!
on November 9,2012 | 10:40AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
When interviewed about this revelation, Bill Clinton replied, "So what's the big deal? "
on November 9,2012 | 10:54AM
serious wrote:
There is a difference between Clinton and the CIA chief--it's the "way" you do it.
on November 9,2012 | 11:02AM
serious wrote:
No, that's what Monica said!!
on November 9,2012 | 11:08AM
loquaciousone wrote:
More like, "where is it"?
on November 9,2012 | 12:43PM
Pocho wrote:
hahaha, many Dems would fight it tooth and nail to keep their seats. The Rep.s put their tails between their legs and bow out.
on November 9,2012 | 03:21PM
Roosevelt wrote:
isn't undercover work part of his CIA job description?
on November 9,2012 | 11:40AM
retire wrote:
I hope it was a woman.
on November 9,2012 | 11:46AM
HD36 wrote:
Probably not
on November 9,2012 | 01:08PM
Oye_Como_Va wrote:
You never know with these liberals.
on November 9,2012 | 04:10PM
RichardCory wrote:
Right, not like us conservatives. When we have extra-marital affairs, we make sure it's done with someone of the opposite sex, just like God intended.
on November 9,2012 | 06:02PM
IEBuzzin wrote:
It was Larry Craig.
on November 9,2012 | 08:57PM
IAmSane wrote:
Ya, can you imagine if was gaybuttsex?
on November 9,2012 | 05:04PM
GorillaSmith wrote:
This was a truly selfless act. Petraeus was obviously horrified by Obammy's dithering over Benghazi and, rather than making a political statement, is now bowing out for a probably non-existent affair.
on November 9,2012 | 12:06PM
honopic wrote:
"Probably non-existent affair?" You've got the right moniker, Gorilla. Hope your knuckles don't bleed as you drag them on the ground.
on November 9,2012 | 07:22PM
IEBuzzin wrote:
I bet you can swallow a whole banana.
on November 9,2012 | 08:56PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
Sorry to see the CIA lose a good leader because of who he chose to sleep with. Perhaps some day we will progress beyond such petty behavior.
on November 9,2012 | 03:05PM
false wrote:
Now what?
on November 9,2012 | 03:37PM
Oye_Como_Va wrote:
on November 9,2012 | 04:11PM
Oye_Como_Va wrote:
Whatever happened to honor as an officer & a gentleman? Is it any wonder many distrust the leadership of this country? When they say that there is a rotten apple in the bunch it normally begins at the top not the bottom. Though the easiest thing is always to blame those at the bottom and exert severe & stern punishment there however, if it involves someone at the top only a word of caution or at the most a slap on the wrist is made. Why allow the guy at the top to resign and get their full retirement and not the guy on the bottom? Is this democracy or rank has its privileges?
on November 9,2012 | 04:06PM
serious wrote:
Great timing, just after the election and just before the Senate hearings!! Seeing pictures of his wife and then his "friend" I don't know!!!
on November 9,2012 | 05:07PM
2disgusted2 wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on November 9,2012 | 06:05PM
RichardCory wrote:
on November 9,2012 | 06:05PM
honopic wrote:
Reality check, 2disgusted2. Previously, I thought you were just depressed, distempered and delusional. Now I see you are way further down the road than that. Demented, deranged, possibly dangerous. Please seek help.
on November 9,2012 | 07:32PM
IEBuzzin wrote:
You mento.
on November 9,2012 | 08:53PM
PaPakoolau808 wrote:
Days before he's supposed to spill his guts out, he steps down?
on November 9,2012 | 07:07PM
IEBuzzin wrote:
Thanks to low-dose Cialis, you can be ready when the moments right.
on November 9,2012 | 08:51PM
Bothrops wrote:
He could well have been the next president of the Unites States, like a previous top general, Eisenhower, who also had a mistress while he planned and executed Overlord, the invasion of Europe. In the Army, adultery is a crime, but Petraeus is now a civilian. This is our country's loss.
on November 10,2012 | 01:47PM
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