News / USA

Petraeus Resigns as CIA Chief Over Extramarital Affair

Resigned CIA Director David Petraeus (Jan 2012 photo)Resigned CIA Director David Petraeus (Jan 2012 photo)
Resigned CIA Director David Petraeus (Jan 2012 photo)
Resigned CIA Director David Petraeus (Jan 2012 photo)
VOA News
Retired U.S. General David Petraeus, the man who was credited with helping to turn around the war in Iraq, has resigned as chief of the Central Intelligence Agency, citing an extramarital affair.

Petraeus wrote in a letter to CIA staffers that he submitted his resignation in person to President Barack Obama Thursday. Petraeus writes that he showed "extremely poor judgment" and that such behavior is unacceptable in a leader.

The former general says it has been the greatest of privileges to serve in the CIA, and he thanked its workers for what he called their "extraordinary service."

President Obama says through Petraeus's lifetime of service in the military and as American intelligence chief, he has made the country safer and stronger.

U.S. media reports say the affair was uncovered when the FBI began investigating journalist Paula Broadwell, who wrote a Petraeus biography, for allegedly trying to gain access to classified information and the general's email.

The reports say Broadwell had almost unlimited access to Petraeus in Afghanistan.  But the FBI did not name Broadwell as the woman with whom Petraeus was having an affair.  The general also did not disclose any names.

Making of a Military Leader

The 60-year-old Petraeus joined the military right out of high school when he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Petraeus spent 37 years with the U.S. Army, becoming one of the world's best known military leaders before retiring and taking over the CIA last year.

The four-star general was the mastermind of the U.S. troop surge in Iraq under former President George W. Bush and also led a similar surge in Afghanistan.

As the commander of U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq from February 2007 to September 2008, he is widely credited with turning around the Iraq conflict and pulling the country back from the brink of a full-fledged sectarian war.

He assumed command of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan in July of 2010, after overseeing a wider region encompassing Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Yemen for nearly two years as the head of U.S. Central Command.

Appointing Petraeus to the post of CIA director, President Obama called the paratrooper one of the nation's "leading strategic thinkers" and one of the "finest military officers of all time."

Education and Personal Life

Petraeus was born in the eastern state of New York on November 7, 1952. His mother was a librarian and his father a Dutch sea captain.

Petraeus married his wife, Holly Knowlton, the daughter of an Army General, in 1974, two months after graduating from West Point.

About a decade later, he earned a Master's degree in public affairs from Princeton University and later, a doctorate in international relations.

He and his wife have two children, a daughter and a son. Their son also joined the Army and served in Afghanistan, while Holly Petraeus has helped military families through her own work with the Obama administration.

CIA Tenure

Petraeus kept a lower profile in his position as spy chief than he did in the military. But his time at the CIA was tainted recently by questions over the killing of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on September 11. Two of the Americans killed were security officers working for the CIA.

Petraeus was scheduled to testify before lawmakers next week about the incident, which has seen officials arguing over who was responsible for the security breakdown.

ABC News quotes an unnamed U.S. official as saying Petraeus' decision to step down had "absolutely nothing to do with Benghazi." ABC says congressional hearings on the Benghazi incident will continue as planned with CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell testifying in Petraeus' place as acting director.

You May Like

Germany Celebrates 25 Years of Unity

October 3 is a public holiday, marking the day in 1990 when East Germany and West Germany reunited More

Analysts: Russia's Syria Strikes Shake Regional Powers

If Moscow bolsters Assad, Saudi Arabia, other Gulf countries may feel obliged to step in More

Video Innovative Nano-Tech Water Filter Prevents Disease

It can absorb contaminants like copper, bacteria, viruses and pesticides, says Askwar Hilonga, who has been successfully trying out his product in Arusha More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: danah from: hawaii
November 10, 2012 4:34 PM
It's Paula D. fault. She probably doesn't care about him but want information about him so she used him by letting her body be the bait for him. Her husband shouldn't tolerate this kind of behavior, many fish in the sea and he could do better.

Petraeus probably was paid well to resign also. He got paid well to shut his mouth about Benghazi.

by: Lela from: nm
November 10, 2012 10:51 AM
This is sad ,I feel much sympathy for the families of both partys involved . It wasn't easy for him to come forth and be truthful about something that he knew would end his beloved career and possibly his family relations .We all have to admire his truthfulness , and thank him for his services well rendered , above and beyond services to his country . There is more to this then what we think , and the " other woman " , what role does she have in this ? , Re; whose fault ? .
In Response

by: Ken from: Canada
November 10, 2012 4:34 PM
This issue is all about trust, if Mr. Petraeus cannot be trusted with his own family, then he cannot be trusted with deeper things as with the USA.. His hand was shown on the Holy Bible as well, adultery is a very serious crime, may God forgive him.

November 09, 2012 10:49 PM
money lost , some thing lost , health lost some thing lost. but if character lost every thing lost.

by: Noma from: Philippines
November 09, 2012 10:25 PM
His alleged extramarital affair is his personal concern hence it is nobody's business. On the other hand, if proven true and somehow jeopardizes his duty as CIA Chief then the government needed to follow certain protocol in order not to endanger the safety of the agency particularly the country. His resignation is expected yet it is way scripted, it is just another tactic of him to gather sympathy. With his credentials, he could do a lot better to clean his mess.

by: Jill from: Los Angeles
November 09, 2012 6:41 PM
The key question is - did David Petraeus have an affair or "An Affair"?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs