David Petraeus resigns as head of CIA and apologises for ‘unacceptable behaviour’ after admitting to extra-marital affair
PUBLISHED: 14:58 EST, 9 November 2012 | UPDATED: 15:23 EST, 9 November 2012
David Petraeus today resigned as director of the CIA after admitting an extra-marital affair.
The former general had been one of the most respected figures in the military and intelligence establishment, but has stepped down to deal with the ‘personal and professional issues’ surrounding his relationship with a woman who is not his wife.
He had been sworn in as head of the CIA in September 2011.
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Deputy director Michael Morell will serve as acting head of the agency until a permanent replacement for Petraeus is appointed.
In his resignation letter, Petraeus wrote that ‘such behaviour is unacceptable’ for a senior administration official.
He is believed to have feared that his infidelity would eventually become public, and therefore took the decision to quit before he was forced out.
Extra-marital affairs are considered particularly damaging for intelligence officials due to the confidential nature of their work and the risk they could leak national security secrets.
Petraeus admitted he had shown ‘extremely poor judgement’ in the letter he sent to his CIA colleagues confirming that he was stepping down.
Ally: Barack Obama could be harmed by the loss of one of his senior national security officials
Sweethearts: Petraeus on the day he graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1974, pictured with his fiancée Holly Knowlton, whose father was the superintendent of West Point
The official offered his resignation to Barack Obama on Thursday, and the President accepted the offer on Friday.
The resignation comes at an awkward time for the President, who is beginning to put together his team for his second term in the wake of his re-election on Tuesday.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has already declared her plans to step down in January, while Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is expected to follow some time in 2013.
Petraeus’ departure leaves another vacancy for a key position in the national security establishment.
‘I SHOWED EXTREMELY POOR JUDGEMENT’: PETRAEUS RESIGNATION LETTER
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