CIA director David Petraeus resigns over extramarital affair
David Petraeus was sworn in as CIA director in September 2011.
November 9th, 2012
07:59 PM ET

CIA director David Petraeus resigns over extramarital affair

Editor's note: Retired Gen. David Petraeus stepped down Friday as head of the Central Intelligence Agency - 14 months after taking the job, days after the presidential election and days before he was to testify before Congress about an attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya that left four Americans dead.

[Updated at 7:59 p.m.] Speaking on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront," Rep. Peter King (R-New York) called Petraeus' resignation "a real loss for the country, a real loss for the CIA."

"We're going to lose the best man for the job, but again America is adaptable," said the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. "Put it this way, anytime you lose a David Petraeus, the country is not as safe as it could be."
[Updated at 7:11 p.m.] The FBI investigated a tip that the woman Petraeus was involved in an extramarital affair with was Paula Broadwell, who co-wrote a biography about him, a U.S. official said.

Broadwell spent a year with Petraeus in Afghanistan, interviewing him for the book "All In: The Education of General David Petraeus."

CNN has not been been able to reach Broadwell for comment. It is not clear if Broadwell is the woman with whom Petraeus had admitting having an affair, leading to his resignation Friday as the head of the CIA.

[Updated at 5:43 p.m.] After getting a tip that Petraeus was involved in an extramarital affair, the FBI launched an investigation to see if this relationship posed a "potential security risk," a U.S. official said. The official added there is no suggestion the FBI was probing Petraeus for any criminal wrongdoing, only because they feared he might be "in a vulnerable spot."

[Updated at 5:40 p.m.] The woman who David Petraeus had an affair with was not a member of the armed forces or the CIA, sources close to Petraeus told HLN's Kyra Phillips. The retired general is extremely disappointed in himself and devastated that he's hurt his family, the sources say.

[Updated at 4:52 p.m.] Acting CIA Director Michael Morrell will testify next week before the Senate Intelligence Committee about the fatal attack in Benghazi instead of David Petraeus, according to the office of that committee's chairwoman, Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

[Updated at 4:25 p.m.] U.S. Sen. John McCain extolled Petraeus as one of "America's greatest military heroes," expressing his gratitude for his "decades of work on behalf of our nation, our military and our security." McCain, an Arizona Republican and the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, added, "His inspirational leadership and his genius were directly responsible - after years of failure - for the success of the surge in Iraq."

[Updated at 3:59 p.m.] Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said, "I wish President Obama had not accepted this resignation, but I understand and respect the decision."

The California Democrat praised Petraeus for giving the CIA "leadership, stature, prestige and credibility both at home and abroad," calling him reliably in "command of intelligence issues" and "especially cooperative with Congress."

[Updated at 3:53 p.m.] The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee praised outgoing CIA Director David Petraeus, saying, "I regret his resignation and wish him and his family the very best."

"Gen. Petraeus is one of America's most outstanding and distinguished military leaders and a true American patriot," said Rep. Peter King, a Republican from New York.

[Updated at 3:41 p.m.] David Petraeus met with President Barack Obama on Thursday, at which time the then CIA director offered his resignation, a senior administration official said. The president then formally accepted Petraeus' resignation in a phone call Friday afternoon, according to the same official.

[Updated at 3:38 p.m.] President Obama said, in a statement, that today he accepted Petraeus' resignation as CIA director.

The president added he is "completely confident that the CIA will continue to thrive and carry out its essential mission," now under the leadership of Acting Director Michael Morrell.

Obama lauded Petraeus for his "extraordinary service to the United States for decades," calling him "one of the outstanding general officers of his generation" and praising his work as CIA director.

The president concluded by saying, "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 in this difficult time." Holly Petraeus led the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Office for Servicemembers Affairs.

[Updated at 3:17 p.m.] Shortly before Petraeus' resignation was announced, White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters that "the president thinks Gen. Petraeus has done an excellent job."

When asked about the general's job status, Carney reiterated that President Obama approves of the job done by the CIA director while adding, "I don't have personnel announcements to make from here today."

[Updated at 3:13 p.m.] Petraeus issued a statement announcing his resignation, saying, "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."

[Initial post, 3:08 p.m.] CIA Director David Petraeus submitted his resignation Friday to President Barack Obama, citing personal reasons, a U.S. government source said.

According to the source, Petraeus admitted to having an extramarital affair when he asked to resign.

A retired U.S. Army general who served as the top U.S. commander in Iraq and Afghanistan, Petraeus was sworn in as the head of the CIA in September 2011.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper issued a statement Friday confirming that Petraeus had turned in his resignation, saying his "decision to step down represents the loss of one of our nation's most respected public servants."

soundoff (1,559 Responses)
  1. Karen Chambers

    I just turned CNN on and heard one sentence on the CIA director resigning due to an affair and then 5 full minutes, an eternity in air time, devoted entirely to this cheater's wife. Why? The director is responsible for his behaviour and wives do not control what their adult husbands choose to do. She does not deserve this unwanted attention and CNN can certainly do better.

    November 9, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Frank Tillery

    No. He is an imperfect human. Somehow, I do not think you can "cast the first stone" either.

    November 9, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Carl N.

    e President should reject it.

    November 9, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Kerry

    It's really no one's business. I have to wonder if he was being threatened with exposure and scandal and decided to avoid it by resigning. Piety people don't mind their own business.

    November 9, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bart

      This man is the top of our spying agency, 100% trustworthiness is part of the job description. This is every Americans' business.

      November 9, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  5. CryBabies

    @Alina77....Are you sure it was a woman?

    November 9, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ivan Simer

    Something isn't right here. General Betray-US is neck deep in Benghazi and now all of the sudden he urgently comes out and swiftly resigns over an affair? When was the last time you heard of a military branch member make such a public and pointed exit over an affair? Something or someone screwed up. Maybe Betray-US was betraying us while getting his staff polished and not paying attention to the situation at hand?

    November 9, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Lynn

    As someone who spent many years in the military, I know that when you're in the military, having an extramarital affair is something that is not only frowned upon, but subjects the person to legal action, reduction in rank, and can even be cause to remove someone from the service. As a former Army commanding general, resigning is the right thing for him to do. As the head of the CIA, it is the right thing for him to do. Integrity is of upmost importance in an intelligence organization, and to lie and cover something up – even in one's personal life – is totally unacceptable. He is the example setter for the entire CIA and he messed up. I commend him for acknowledging his bad judgment and for stepping down. He has done a lot of good for this country, so I wish him nothing but the best in the future and I hope his wife can find peace, too.

    November 9, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Phineas

      Well said. Sometimes you just have to call a penalty on yourself.

      November 9, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • morsergey

      I would allow Military people have multiple wives

      November 9, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  8. kite005

    He probably just did it because the truth was about to come out anyway.

    November 9, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Sam

    Gives a whole new meaning to his biography "All In".

    November 9, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Chicago

    Who is behind this? Hillary? Someone obviously threatened to come forward. Is it Obama? Did he want him out? Did Valarie Jarrett make the threat because we've learned she is the one negotiating with Iran? Like everything with the Obama administration, something here stinks. I'd be shocked if it were a Republican because we don't play the same game of politics of destruction, but I suppose it is possible. I am guessing Hillary because she was forced to take the fall for Libya. Wow...questions. Questions we know the mainstream media will fail to ask. They are always part of the cover ups.

    November 9, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • sly

      Fox News is reporting that Karl Rove was the one who was going to out the General. This was another TeaBagiban – Moderate Republican squabble, like the one that cost Romney the election.

      In-fighting – it is fun to watch the Republicans eat each other.

      November 9, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Dbac

    Petraeus must be planning a 2016 bid to run for President now that he meets all the prerequisites.

    November 9, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Patrick Henry

    If Timmy G can serve as Treasury secy without paying taxes, there's no reason for Petraeus to resign as head spy just because someone can blackmail him!

    November 9, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Pat Lindgren

    Why is it that so many intellegent, successful men just can't keep it in their pants?

    November 9, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Phineas

      How can so many not? The biology has proven effective for millions of years. Just not so for DCI's.

      November 9, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hitman

      Merely trying to keep up with Bubba Clinton!

      November 9, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      It's in our jeans

      November 9, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Henry Allen

      Why? Because there are an equal number of intelligent women who want to remove theirs.

      November 9, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • AZGolfer

      We are going to run out of intelligent and dedicated high-ranking public officials.

      November 9, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam Walworth


      Its not that they cant keep it in the pants.

      Mostly its because of stress, lack of emotional support from spouse, and time we spend away from our families finally dawns on us.

      November 9, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andy

      Better question would be, why do we expect them to?

      November 9, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • morsergey

      He had an affair. So what's a big deal? If he is a good worker I do not care. It is his personal life.

      November 9, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  14. mikebo

    When or how did this story come out?Is this trying to get a head' of the story?

    November 9, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hitman

      A head of the story. I got it!

      November 9, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • BillyBob

      I hear that the Justice Dept. might be issuing a gag order.

      November 9, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  15. It ain't so

    FOX NEWS with all its unbias reporting.. is talking about this story while showing pictures of Benghazi.. they are convinced it is all about that. One of their females reporter also informed all the veiwers that shoulder propelled gernades are only shot after careful calculations and then a re calculation before being fired. I am sure people using these weapons are surprised at this revelation.

    November 9, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • FoolKiller

      I didn't hear her, but what you say she said is exactly right regarding mortars, not RPGs. Which were used in the attack, as much or more than RPGs were. If you are going to crucify her for using the wrong word, I can't wait to see what you have in mind for Biden.

      November 9, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      You're right, it would be totally irrational to consider the CIA director's recent past when discussing his sudden resignation following a international incident with a controversy hanging over it. I'm sure there is no chance at all that the two are related.

      November 9, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • james

      You didn't watch she spoke about mortars and what she said was accurate. Do you have any education in indirect fire?

      November 9, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • salinesolution

      "shoulder propelled grenades"

      What do they do? Bounce it off their shoulders?

      If they were talking about a rocket propelled grenade "RPG" then yes they were wrong. But I believe they were talking about mortars, which in fact do take time to set up and aim properly accounting for multiple variables including wind speed and direction. After firing the first round usually a spotter will call in adjustments to correct the point of impact. If all you want to do is complain about Fox news then why do you watch it? Go back to the mind numbing comfort of MSNBC.

      November 9, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
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