CIA chief resigns over affair

2012-11-10 09:00

Washington – CIA Director David Petraeus resigned over an extramarital affair, bringing an abrupt end to a brilliant career that saw him serve as military commander in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The revelation shocked Washington yesterday, just three days after the re-election of US President Barack Obama and shortly before Petraeus had been due to testify on the CIA’s alleged failure to properly protect a US consulate in Libya.

“After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgement by engaging in an extramarital affair,” Petraeus said in a message to CIA staff, released to the media.

Such behaviour is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organisation such as ours.”

Neither Petraeus nor the CIA explained exactly why he felt he had to step down over the affair, and whether his liaison presented a purely personal problem or raised security issues in his sensitive work as spy chief.

The affair came to light as the FBI was investigating whether a computer used by Petraeus had been compromised, the New York Times and other US media reported.

NBC News reported the Federal Bureau of Investigation was investigating Paula Broadwell, who published a favourable biography of Petraeus, “All In: The Education of David Petraeus,” for possible improper access to classified information.

Unnamed officials told the New York Times that Petraeus’s lover was Broadwell, a former Army major who spent hours interviewing Petraeus for her book. She offered no public comment on the revelations.

The resignation comes amid criticism in some quarters of Petraeus over his response to the deadly attack in September on the US consulate in Benghazi, which killed the US ambassador to Libya and three other Americans.

Petraeus was due to face a tough grilling in a series of closed-door classified hearings in Congress next week, with some lawmakers questioning the former general’s handling of the incident.

Intelligence officials have defended Petraeus and his officers over the incident, saying the CIA moved swiftly to rescue the Americans under attack at the Benghazi compound.

Michael Morell, Petraeus’ deputy at the country’s lead spy agency, will serve as acting director and will be appearing at the hearing instead. Obama expressed his “utmost confidence” in Morell’s leadership. The president, fresh from his electoral triumph, reportedly had no inkling that the CIA chief was about to resign until Thursday morning.

When he met Petraeus later that day, Obama refused to accept the resignation straight away, saying he would think about it overnight, the New York Times said. But in the end, Obama concluded he could not push Petraeus to stay on, according to the Times.

The most celebrated military officer of his generation, Petraeus (60) took over at the CIA just over a year ago after retiring as a four-star general. He was credited by some with rescuing a failing US war effort in Iraq in 2007, after then president George W Bush ordered a surge of troops into the country.

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