News & Politics

CIA Head and Drone Booster David Petraeus Resigns Over Extramarital Affair

A post-election surprise: Petraeus, weeks after requesting an expansion of the CIA's drone fleet, resigns from his post as director of the agency.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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 Postputs 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.”

Alex Kane is former World editor at AlterNet. His work has appeared in Mondoweiss, Salon, VICE, the Los Angeles Review of Books and more. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

Sign Up!
Get AlterNet's Daily Newsletter in Your Inbox
+ sign up for additional lists
Select additional lists by selecting the checkboxes below before clicking Subscribe:
Election 2018