Resignation at the CIA: Why Petraeus Had to Go

  • Share
  • Read Later
Christy Bowe / Corbis

General David Petraeus attends his confirmation hearing for CIA Director at the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington D.C., June 23, 2011

General David Petraeus announced today that he has resigned as head of the CIA, citing an extramarital affair. 

The idea of a senior figure in Washington resigning because of infidelity seems quaint in the post-Clinton era of David Vitter and other still-active public servants who’ve put scandals behind them. Attention will quickly turn to Petraeus’ struggles to establish himself at the agency, the traditional ill will between the CIA and the uniformed military and, of course, Petraeus’ handling of the Benghazi attack.

But the real reason Petraeus was done in by something so easily shrugged off by others in Washington is much simpler than that. In the world of spies, there is a short list of weaknesses you can exploit in your opponents; they include ideology, greed, indebtedness and infidelity. People have spent centuries figuring out how to get people to commit treason. Arguing that the other side is better for humanity, offering to help someone who’s deeply in debt or paying hard cash to the greedy are classic methods. But few are more effective than blackmail, and even in the post-Lewinsky era in Washington, infidelity leaves officials vulnerable.

You can’t lead an organization whose case officers must be impervious to blackmail if you’re vulnerable to it yourself.

Here’s Petraeus’ statement:

HEADQUARTERS 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

406 comments
joshgibson
joshgibson

Then why was Allen Dulles able to spy effectively why having sex in his office with women other than his wife. You mean 2012 is more prudish than the 1950s? Or is it that blackmail didn't exist in that era?

ironyman2
ironyman2

This story has lots of legs. Among them, did the Senate Intelligence Committee give Petraeus a pass during the vetting process? Did he lie to the committee about issues that might surface, whether financial, sexual or other matters? Did some of the old boys of the committee, like Saxby Chambliss, know about the affairs and choose to ignore the information? LOckheed just fired its CEO for an improper relationship with a subordinate. Why wouldn't this apply to a high-lvel government official, too? Lockheed hired a woman to replace its fallen leader. Maybe government needs to do the same for its postions that require attention to detail and focusing on the job.

Marky_D_Sodd
Marky_D_Sodd

Anyone remember -- back when Bush appointedPetraeus to be Commanding General, Multi-National Force - Iraq,decididing Petraeus would run things in the war -- the demonstrations by opponents who called him "General Betrayus" -- and were vilified by the Red Americans (I mean Republicans) for doing so?

ahandout
ahandout

A Veterans Day thank you to all that serve and have served to protect and defend the greatest nation that has ever been. 

outsider
outsider

so the thing is, paulie and handy - your side and the spin and lies - they failed to convince anyone - because you know - they were in fact spin and lies.

and repeating those lies to each other, neither made them real, nor convinced anyone else; the only thing repeating those lies to each other did, was allow you to be surprised when the vast majority of the population rejected those lies.

do you really think it prudent to continue lying to yourself about all these conspiracies - or do you think perhaps you should possibly stop lying, and start educating yourself.

i know you wont; but i thought i would offer some advice - you know, since your side lost so badly.

carotexas
carotexas

This was the only post from a Time reporter on Friday in Swampland.

HudsonValleyTim
HudsonValleyTim

While I would agree that he can no longer be effectively blackmailed about this incident, there are 2 larger points:1. He needs to be able to hold himself to the same (or higher) standard that he expects of everyone in his agency. There are few places in government where trust and integrity are as crusial as the CIA, so he's damaged goods.2. Petraeus grew-up in my hometown of Cornwall NY, where there are many old-timers who still know him as "Peaches", there is a street named after him, and his personal integrity is well regarded. The man cares about what people think of him....none more so than his wife. I think that his sense of duty is well-placed by leaving all other priorities behind and mending his relationship with her. She deserves no-lessPersonally, I feel terribly for his wife, and for him as well. He is merely human, despite having done many extraordinary things for his country. I hope that he will be remembered more for the lives he saved by extricating us honorably from Iraq, than for the indiscretions of his personal life.

Fla4Me
Fla4Me

So after more and more conspiracy theories from the wing nuts it turns out that it is what it is.  In a "fact is stranger then fiction' twist of events, the FBI became aware of the general's affair after following up on a complaint from a woman who claimed she was being harrassed.  When they followed up on the emails they led back to the general's biographer.  Apparently she had other emails on her account that was evidence of the affair.  The FBI then met with the general to inform him of the events.  So yes, the general was attempting to do the honorable thing given his poor behavior.   

paulejb
paulejb

"New York officials reportedly consider closed prison for displaced Sandy victims"

On Staten Island alone, about 5,200 people applied for temporary FEMA housing, but only about two dozen people have been successfully placed, federal sources told the newspaper.

Read more: http://www.myfoxdc.com/story/20053522/new-york-officials-reportedly-consider-closed-prison-for-displaced-sandy-victims#ixzz2BrlAMakv

There you have it people. The government for which you voted. May you all have the joy of it.

ironyman2
ironyman2

@joshgibson I think it has to do with media "oversight." Also, people respected one another's privacy back then. Now everyone has that 15 minutes, and they don't care if they get it through smearing someone's reputation for no reason. Any time a person has sex in a public place, even behind closed, locked doors, he or she is taking a risk. Many people get off on this as much as they do the sex. My guess is Petraeus did. He is paying for it. Blackmail? Who knows? The little man got caught in a very compromising situation for a CIA chief in the digital age.

Marky_D_Sodd
Marky_D_Sodd

@ironyman2 

Actually, in the military adultery is an offense that can result in court-marshall.

PrakashIyangar
PrakashIyangar

@Marky_D_Sodd i think you are wrong to bring that up now.. the matters are not related.. Petraeus was a well accepted military commander is beyond doubt. The point here is why he chose to resign, and the fact that he chose to resign than be blackmailed ( i hope that is the case) is in fact commendable. We must not hold others to a bar that is higher than our own. 

ironyman2
ironyman2

@ahandout It is the greatest nation that has ever been - agreed. But its leaders are human, and some of them purpoet themselves to be heroes when they are not. Sadly, Petraeus was one of these. He crafted a reputation that was more image than reality. It's coming down around him. And there's more to come.

Marky_D_Sodd
Marky_D_Sodd

@ahandout 

Actually, it WILL be the greatest nation that has ever been, after we have completed the repairs necessary to undo the damage the Red Americans have done.  But we WILL do it.  We have 4+12 years before us!

outsider
outsider

They're probably all asleep. The campaign did last two years - 10 in romneys case.

30 for the gop.. Before they were repudiated. Again.

@carotexas

sacredh
sacredh

PerryWhite1, still, during the next election we'll see both of them linked to all the time because they may be the only ones that show the republicans with the lead. I'd be willing to bet that in 2 and 4 years, we'll be hearing that they were the most accurate polls too.

PerryWhite1
PerryWhite1

@sacredh In the Nate Silver model, mathematical weights are assigned to different polls according to their accuracy average, before being plugged into Silver's model. Rasmussen has one of the lowest weights, because its polling results are, historically, among the least reflective of election results. That's one of things Republicans pointed to in calling Five-Thirty-Eight biased, but because it's based on math and NOT bias -- the bias is actually in Rasmussen's polling methods, which the math reflects -- Silver's results were 50 for 50 on calling the states in the presidential race.

Fun facts to know and tell. 

TyPollard
TyPollard

@sacredh Oh yeah, but inside "the bubble" they are super awesome even though they still need to be unskewed in favor of Republicans.

ironyman2
ironyman2

@ahandout 

People have known for a long time about Petraeus and his "doings." I wonder why the Senate Intelligence Committee didn't properly vet the man? Now it's come back to bite a lot of people. Don't care what happens to Petraeus.

Sue_N
Sue_N

@ahandout Dude, give it up. Nobody's buying your little conspiracy theories. You're just making yourself sound (more) like an idiot.

Fla4Me
Fla4Me

@ahandout Yeah...and......you're the FBI...you accidently come across evidence that the head of the CIA is engaged in a secret affair using a secert email account.  Do you blow it up or do you continue to gather information to determine if the general is compromising national security, a spy or just a schmuck.?

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@ahandout You Ghoulish Troll. Take you conspiracy theories and your Key Board Warrior sites and shove them where the sun doesn't shine.

Hollywooddeed
Hollywooddeed

@paulejb Why don't you volunteer to help, paulie? Or are you happier sitting on your butt complaining on your computer?

ironyman2
ironyman2

@Marky_D_Sodd @ironyman2  Yep, and apparently Petraeus flaunted the woman in Afganistan and the emails they exchanged were pretty gamy - unbecoming of a government official paid by us. He's had a rather sweet life for 40-plus years, including his West Point and Princeton degrees.

Marky_D_Sodd
Marky_D_Sodd

@PrakashIyangar @Marky_D_Sodd 

Your perception of "the point" is just that...yours.

Nobody said Petraeus was NOT a well-accepted military commander.  What is not beyond doubt is his faulty judgment.

We hold others to "a bar that is higher than our own" all the time. Roman catholic christer does it all the time in selecting priests.  The US military does it all the time when accepting recruits.

He chose to resign ONLY after he had been discovered and investigated by the FBI.  He may yet face criminal charges stemming from that investigation.

Marky_D_Sodd
Marky_D_Sodd

Ironyman2

Whether the US is the "greatest nation that has ever been" is a valuejudgement, which can only be made according to your particular values.There is some evidence to contradict you: US is 4th most educated country1. Canada

2. Israel3. Japan4. United States 

WHO ranking of health care systems:1. France37. USA 

UN listing of countries with lowest infant mortality:1. Singapore

34. USA 

UN Longest Life Expectancy1.Japan

38.USA

Worst poverty in world

1.Turkey

2.USA 

Number of  criminalprisoners per capita     1.USA

    2China

     3.Russia

Highest GDP

1.Liechtenstein

13. USA

Most overweight/obese people1.USA

2.Mexico

Most Divorces1.USA

2 Puerto Rico

3 Russia

Fewest GUN RELATED Crimes     

1. Thailand

7.  USA

Overall, the survey of more than 60,000 adults in 14countries showed a 27% rate of mental disorders in the U.S. population for alist of diseases. That list includes: depression, anxiety, eatingdisorders, and substance abuse. The U.S. rate was substantially higher than that of any other country measured, including other industrialized nations such as Belgium, which showed a 12% illness rate.

ahandout
ahandout

@Fla4Me No accident.  It was known that Petraeus was having an affair.  Do you think that the FBI is that incompetent?  Maybe, maybe all the wheels of government have fallen off under Obama, the FBI, the CIA, FEMA, the Pentagon, all incompetant and unable to do their jobs.  

But, they just happen to wait until after the election to force Petraeus out.  Sure.  Fairy tales and unicorns.

ahandout
ahandout

@Hollywooddeed   What exactly are you doing Hollywooddeed?  being thankful for the storm like your media slob Chris Matthews I imagine.

paulejb
paulejb

@Hollywooddeed ,

Been trying to keep body and soul together for the past eleven days in the dark and cold, Hollywood. Now I can begin helping the people less fortunate than myself. I won't be needing a government program for that.

Marky_D_Sodd
Marky_D_Sodd

@ironyman2 

Would one expect a Professional Red American (I mean Republikkkan) to have anything less than a sweet life on the taxpayer's dollar?

ahandout
ahandout

@Marky_D_Sodd  I don't rate nations based on some leftist utopian pipedream.  You fail to mention that most if not all of those nations would not exist in their present state without the US. 

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@ahandout @Hollywooddeed Coming from the guys who's party pioneered wiretapping of US Citizens and the Torture of Prisoners. Guess concepts like irony and hypocrisy are lost on Trolls.

ahandout
ahandout

@Hollywooddeed @ahandout   Very original there.  Did your knee jerk so hard that it jarred your brain?  Liberals are leading the charge to suppresses speech, freedom, the Constitution and the sovereignty of the US.  Your don't have any ideas that haven't already been proven failures on the world stage.  You just keep recycling tyranny. 

ahandout
ahandout

@Hollywooddeed @ahandout  Then why do you support that class warfare, envy mongering president?  Envy is one of the oldest, most unoriginal human emotions. All it takes is a little hate. 

Hollywooddeed
Hollywooddeed

@ahandout @Hollywooddeed If it comforts you to think so.  I'm generally not interested in low information idiots who have no idea what they're talking about or original thoughts.

Hollywooddeed
Hollywooddeed

@ahandout @Hollywooddeed I don't care what you think either.

ahandout
ahandout

@Hollywooddeed  Exactly, an organization like the Red Cross is more effective and efficient (not to mention kinder and not run by bureaucrats) than any government agency.  I note that you didn't write a check out to FEMA. 

Hollywooddeed
Hollywooddeed

@ahandout @Hollywooddeed Well, exactly, I sent $500 to the Red Cross. And Chris Matthews is not my media slob. I don't care what he says.