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CIA Director Petraeus Resigns Over Affair

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (right) swears in David Petraeus as the new CIA director at the White House last year.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (right) swears in David Petraeus as the new CIA director at the White House last year.
By RFE/RL
David Petraeus, the director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has resigned.

Petraeus, in a statement on November 9, admitted to having an extramarital affair, which he said made him unfit to continue as U.S. intelligence chief.

The 60-year-old Petraeus, who has been married for 37 years, said he had shown "extremely poor judgment."

Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell has been named acting director.

President Barack Obama has accepted the resignation. In a statement, Obama  praised Petraeus as one of the most outstanding generals of his generation and expressed confidence the CIA would continue to thrive.

Obama said his "thoughts and prayers" were with Petraeus and his wife.

Petraeus, a retired four-star general who commanded U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, took over as CIA chief in 2011.

In his statement, Petraeus said engaging in the affair was “unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader” of an organization such as the CIA.

It was not immediately clear whether the affair represented a purely personal problem for Petraeus, or if it also had raised security issues that could affect his work as head of the U.S. spy agency.

Reports have quoted U.S. officials as saying the affair was uncovered during an FBI investigation.

Officials are also quoted as saying Petraeus had been involved with Paula Broadwell, who this year published a biography of Petraeus and had traveled with him in Afghanistan.

Stellar Career

The November 9 resignation came three days after Obama was reelected to another four-year term in the White House, and just days before Petraeus was due to be questioned by lawmakers in the U.S. Congress next week over the September 11 attack in Benghazi that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya.

Petraeus has been criticized by some lawmakers over security and intelligence lapses before the attack, which also killed three other Americans.

Petraeus, a graduate of the West Point U.S. military academy, was considered a stellar soldier as well as an astute player of Washington’s politics. He was once viewed as a possible candidate for president.

Amid his military career, he earned masters and doctorate degrees from Princeton in the 1980s. In the mid-2000s, he helped develop the manual that instructs U.S. forces on how to fight a counterinsurgency campaign.

His reputation was enhanced by his performance in Iraq, where he is credited by some with saving the country from civil war by orchestrating the 2007 “surge” of U.S. troops there.

The strategy is praised by analysts for paving the way for the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq at the end of 2011.

In 2008, Petraeus was promoted to head of the U.S. Central Command, in charge of all U.S. military operations in the Middle East and the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.

In 2010, President Obama asked Petraeus to take over U.S. military operations in Afghanistan after General Stanley McChrystal was fired.

In Afghanistan, Petraeus commanded an Iraq-style “surge” of some 30,000 U.S. troops in an attempt to roll back Taliban fighters and improve security.

Petraeus claimed progress. But critics of his strategy point out that the Taliban remains active, carrying out frequent attacks, and the U.S.-backed Afghan government remains riddled with corruption.

Despite continued indications of Taliban strength, U.S.-led combat troops are due to withdraw from Afghanistan at the end of 2014.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, and AFP

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