Petraeus letter: I showed extremely poor judgment
Petraeus became CIA director in September 2011.
November 9th, 2012
03:19 PM ET

Petraeus letter: I showed extremely poor judgment

Here is the full text of a letter ex-CIA Director David Petraeus sent to colleagues after he submitted his resignation to President Obama:


Central Intelligence Agency

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

Filed under: CIA
soundoff (342 Responses)
  1. nelsonleonard

    Petraeus and Broadwell seem to be the guilty ones and the scorn from so many of you is heaped on the wife. Where do you get your sense of justice and right/wrong? From Hell?

    November 11, 2012 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Will Y

      Their is a very real security risk to our county when the Director of the CIA puts himself in a position which could lead to him being blackmailed. Overall, his service to our country is very respectable, but his resignation was required.

      November 12, 2012 at 8:38 am | Report abuse |
  2. wc

    Bill Clinton, take notes!

    November 11, 2012 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Strokeofbrinius

    I honestly don't feel like affairs are reasons to resign from posts. Especially when you are serving well. I honestly do not understand why this is news. My husband cheated, he's still in the air force, why not kick him out?(because you would have to kick out half of the military) At the end of the day a job is a job, I'm not for people leaving positions because they had affairs. So what? That is personal. He should deal with his wife, she should deal with him yadda yadda.

    November 11, 2012 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve G

      Mr Petraeus put himself in a position to be compromised as a security risk due to the position he was in a CIA director. He's not resigning because of the affair Per Se but because of the position he put himself in with his "Poor judgement". Anyone who has ever held a government security clearance with daily access to classified material knows not to get themselves in situations which could compromise their integrity. I'm retired USAF NCO and I had daily access to classified data and secure areas for 20 years straight. He's lucky he is allowed to resign. Apparently this mes started while he was on active duty. If I as an NCO had done something like this, i.e. having an affair with a subordinate-let alone a married subordinate–Well most service members would be court-martialed for this by bringing public disrepute upon the armed service they are a member of.., It's matter of honor and integrity, 2 values that all of the armed services hold in very esteem. In the last few years there are a few Senior NCO's, O-6 Colonels and Captains and few flag officer generals and admirals who have been cashiered out of their respective service for doing something exactly like this. They are supposed to be leaders above reproach..

      November 12, 2012 at 12:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Ron

      Integrity... Something the world is seriously lacking. I respect him for his decision. Just reading these posts really show me how far our society has fallen. Adultery is NOT OK. It kills familys, hopes, dreams, etc. If we consider it normal, we are inviting so much more.

      November 12, 2012 at 8:27 am | Report abuse |
    • sam

      Agree hundred x cent, He should have dealt with his wife and their relationship first and foremost, before resigning. National security here is not the issue. The issue here is personal relations, and spontaneous attraction. It so happens like rain or sunshine to everyone everyday, and affects those who have reasons for them to permit or allow these temptations to enter their particular lives. Bigger the status of the people invloved, the greater the fallout. Question to ask is here : was it all worth while?? will that instant change my life for the better or the worst. Was it all a fake before it happened ?? Some people don`t have the guts to face their own reality, and hide under uniforms, bars, stripes, and stars. But live a quiet misery inside. It takes more guts than stars to deal with the facts of life in a situation like this one, and no one should be the judge of these behaviours, but all that are directly involved.

      November 12, 2012 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Cat

      The General put himself in a position to possibly be bribed. For example, I know you have information about...(insert something sensitive here)...I know you're having an affair and if you don't tell me what I want to know I will let others know about the affair. I don't believe he had a choice. However, I seem to remember a certain President of the United States in the '90's do the same and he didn't lose his job...interesting...

      November 13, 2012 at 8:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Ann

      People are unstable, not a good idea for a general or director of the CIA. At least he has some integrity unlike most.

      November 29, 2012 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. azezel

    Is this the worse he has done? I like him but I don't see him as an innovator more like a political commander.

    November 12, 2012 at 5:11 am | Report abuse |
  5. Will

    He was the Director of the CIA. What if this extra-marital affair was discovered many months by a North Korean spy. Petraeus might then be faced with a blackmail proposition. It is completely inappropriate behavior, but most importantly it is potentially very dangerous to the security of our country.

    November 12, 2012 at 8:29 am | Report abuse |
  6. Berg

    General Petraeus knew the consequences and took the risk. Sometimes you take a risk in life and it pays off, but sometimes you can ruin a lot more than you can imagine. This is a black-eye for the CIA, President Obama, Mr Petraeus, Mrs.Petraeus and their children. "If the Captain thinks with his dink, the ship will sink"

    November 12, 2012 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
  7. sam

    Judging from the reports and videos seen, this top ranked officer indulged in a very difficult temptation and relation with a younger beautiful woman. A woman who woud not put in peril national security being herself a former officer and graduate from the USMA. Sometimes destiny brings difficult situations into people of these two`s levels, where not wanting or planning for it they fall to the pressures of everyday life while being distant from home with high levels of anxiety for answers and solutions to very complicated issues. Private lives are what they are, private. They both were people with moral obligations that failed at one single instant of surrendering to a mutual attraction that was impossible for both to manage and control. It has happened to Presidents, and people in all walks of life, and will continue to happen to humans as long as there exists a vacuum or void of some sort unfulfilled within the person`s life. It is one of those situations in wich a man or a woman, or both, cannot control their emotions and yield before thinking of the consecuences of their actions. Both parties in this case primarily should seek revising their individual relationship with their marriages, themselves, and the careers they hold before renouncing. But it seems now too late to do that for the 4 stars and the man wearing them.

    November 12, 2012 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
  8. sam

    Adultery of course is not ok. But its not OK either to live within an imprisoned life of fake to your husband or spouse, and then shake it off with an affair resulting from years of apparent void within the relationship. Either condition is simply a sympthom of weakness to deal with the facts of life.

    November 12, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  9. DanaD

    It's a shame that someone has to give up so much of their personal life in order to go into public service. No question what Petraeus did was wrong, the rest of us are just lucky that we can make mistakes without having to fend off the pack of dogs that work to turn every indiscretion into political currency. To tell the truth I'm disgusted by more than his poor judgement.

    November 12, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • BluesPetal

      I am very conflicted on this one. I think that we needed to first and foremost determine if there was any need for public discussion in this matter. Interesting, some of the pundits and people in congress questioning why they didn't know sooner while others are saying that since this was not a security matter, why did it have to be public knowledge at all? The woman with whom he had an affair sounds like she is a tad unstable. Imagine a married woman writing threatening letters to a woman she thinks is too close to her married boyfriend. Hard to follow but incredibly pathetic. I agree that affairs are morally wrong, but thankfully I am not part of the morality police (republican party) and will leave that judgement to their God and personal consciences. At the same time, is the punishment befitting of the crime? It may be that we all share in such a easy answers here.

      November 12, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  10. sam

    They all (media,Washington,CIA) have blown this matter beyond proportion, as usual, instead of dealing with it proportionally to what it is in essence, a private affair between two persons. There must be a degree of unresolved and unsatisfyed chapters in the life of these two that have obviously resulted in this drama spreading thru the media like wildfire. This incident should be laid to rest, as there are much more important and critical issues that need the undivided attention of the people making critical decitions in the nation, and to allow these two citizens to make whatever choices they need to follow in order to return their individual lives to normal, a task that will not be done easily.

    November 13, 2012 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  11. Alan

    The victims..Mrs. Petreaus and the American people who financed his government training.

    November 13, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  12. DPC

    First, lying is lying, period. If one can't be trusted in their marital relationship they shouldn't be entrusted with the nation's secrets. He betrayed the trust of the President and the nation. Adultery is not the issue, dishonesty and integrity are. And just for the record "The Silent Service" is the moniker earned by the US Submarine Service not the CIA.

    November 13, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Crab

    Life's fair, good times need bad times to balance out, and life goes on.......

    November 14, 2012 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
  14. Mork

    1. The affair 'may' have caused a security breach. Wait until after the investigation is over to quit. Why quit if nothing was compromised except his marriage? How does cheating on his wife cause him to suddenly have no integrity? This is what I don't understand about the US. We view adult relationships from the standpoint of a child. People break up. People move on. OK, so he lied to his wife. Does that mean he lies about everything else? Grow up. Should he have filed for divorce and then started the affair? Yes. Does that mean you should burn him at the stake? No.
    2. His wife has every reason to be angry. That is their business. She lived without him for years while he worked halfway around the world. He'll get taken to the cleaners in a divorce. She'll end up with lifelong alimony, half his pension, and half his assets.
    3. Affairs are so common in military marriages because the job takes them apart from each other for long periods of time. This is what the public doesn't understand. OK, it is wrong. But how many civilian marriages would fall apart if the couples were separated for years on end? People get involved with those they see every day.
    4. Don't throw away everything he has done for this country because he tasted the fruit of the forbidden tree. If my wife cheated on me, hell yes I'd be mad. But is that cause to destroy her career? NO.

    November 14, 2012 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
  15. Hank_USMC

    This isn't about the affair, this is about national security. It IS THE PUBLIC'S BUSINESS to know that the leaders of this country and defense organization are air tight. Top level security clearance means just that. When a person is granted top level clearance, it's after their neighbors are interviewed, their relatives, their banker, accountant and plumber are interviewed and all checks out. An affair is a risk and vulnerability. He put all of us at risk.

    November 15, 2012 at 12:48 am | Report abuse |
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