CIA Head and Drone Booster David Petraeus Resigns Over Extramarital Affair

Here’s a post-election surprise no one saw coming: General David Petraeus, former head of international armed forces in Afghanistan, has resigned from his current post as director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

NBC News broke the story this afternoon, reporting that Petraeus resigned due to an “extramarital affair” that showed “extremely poor judgment.” President Obama “graciously accepted” Petraeus’ resignation, the general wrote in a letter to the CIA’s workforce.

Petraeus is also a former commander of CENTCOM, the military branch that oversees operations in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia.

“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,” wrote Petraeus. “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.”

NBC News notes that “Petraeus was appointed CIA director in April 2011, replacing Leon Panetta, who moved to the Pentagon to become defense secretary.”

Petraeus recently came under fire from administration officials for his handling of the Libya attack in Benghazi which killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to the country. On November 2, the Wall Street Journal published a story that “leaked a series of damaging remarks about the CIA's handling of Benghazi [from the Obama administration],” as The Atlantic Wire notes. Included in the article was “a slew of grievances directed at CIA Director David Petraeus.”

During his tenure at the CIA, Petraeus oversaw the continued use of drone strikes by the agency. Under his control, the CIA accelerated the use of drone strikes to target suspected anti-American fighters in Pakistan. But the CIA also bombed Pakistan using what is called “signature strikes”--which means the “launching [of] strikes against terrorism suspects even when it does not know the identities of those who could be killed,” as the Washington Post puts it. Those signature strikes are likely responsible for the deaths of scores of civilians, though the exact number is not known since the Obama administration categorizes dead “militants” as “all military-age males in a strike zone.”

Before Petraeus resigned, the CIA was requesting the authority to use “signature strikes” in Yemen as well. And the Washington Post recently reported that the CIA was “urging the White House to approve a significant expansion of the agency’s fleet of armed drones, a move that would extend the spy service’s decade-long transformation into a paramilitary force.”

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card


Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.