CIA Director David Petraeus abruptly resigned today, citing an extramarital affair — six days before he was set to testify before House and Senate intelligence committees about the Benghazi attack.
His letter to CIA staff:
9 November 2012
Yesterday afternoon, I went to the White House and asked the President to be allowed, for personal reasons, to resign from my position as D/CIA. After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair. Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours. This afternoon, the President graciously accepted my resignation.
As I depart Langley, I want you to know that it has been the greatest of privileges to have served with you, the officers of our Nation’s Silent Service, a work force that is truly exceptional in every regard. Indeed, you did extraordinary work on a host of critical missions during my time as director, and I am deeply grateful to you for that.
Teddy Roosevelt once observed that life’s greatest gift is the opportunity to work hard at work worth doing. I will always treasure my opportunity to have done that with you and I will always regret the circumstances that brought that work with you to an end.
Thank you for your extraordinary service to our country, and best wishes for continued success in the important endeavors that lie ahead for our country and our Agency.
With admiration and appreciation,
David H. Petraeus
Petraeus, a four-star general, was commander of the International Security Assistance Force and U.S. forces in Afghanistan and CENTCOM commander, as well as commanding general of the Multi-National Force in Iraq.
“David Petraeus has provided extraordinary service to the United States for decades. By any measure, he was one of the outstanding General officers of his generation, helping our military adapt to new challenges, and leading our men and women in uniform through a remarkable period of service in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he helped our nation put those wars on a path to a responsible end. As Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, he has continued to serve with characteristic intellectual rigor, dedication, and patriotism. By any measure, through his lifetime of service David Petraeus has made our country safer and stronger,” President Obama said in a statement issued moments after the news broke.
“Today, I accepted his resignation as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. I am completely confident that the CIA will continue to thrive and carry out its essential mission, and I have the utmost confidence in Acting Director Michael Morell and the men and women of the CIA who work every day to keep our nation safe. Going forward, my thoughts and prayers are with Dave and Holly Petraeus, who has done so much to help military families through her own work. I wish them the very best at this difficult time.”
Petraeus was scheduled to testify at a closed-door Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Benghazi next week, along with Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy, FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce and National Counterterrorism Center Director Matt Olsen.
Petraeus, Clapper, and Olsen were also tapped to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on the same day (Thursday) and topic.
Lawmakers have been critical of Petraeus for telling members of Congress in a Benghazi briefing three days after the Sept. 11 attack that the deadly assault was linked to protests over an anti-Muhammad video.
There is one other Benghazi hearing on the Hill next week, and the only open-door one of the three: The House Foreign Affairs Committee has invited Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to a Thursday panel. The only other confirmed witness is a RAND Corp. analyst.
Petraeus had not been on the list of positions expected to be changed in the new administration. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who led the CIA before Petraeus, is known to want to retire soon.
UPDATE: The Senate Intelligence Committee announced that Acting CIA Director Michael Morrell will testify Thursday in Petraeus’ place. This doesn’t mean that Petraeus couldn’t be subpoenaed by Congress at some point.
UPDATE: The other woman has been identified as Paula Broadwell, author of All In: The Education of General David Petraeus. Broadwell is married with two young boys. NBC News reports that the FBI was investigating Broadwell for trying to access Petraeus’ email and potentially accessing classified information.