UPDATE: Is It Right For CIA Director David Petraeus to Resign Because of Affair?


AP Photo

The Associated Press has just announced that CIA Director David Petraeus has resigned because of an extramarital affair.

Petraeus is probably best-known as the former head of allied forces in Afghanistan. He took over as Director of the CIA in 2011.

USA Today explains, “In a letter, Petraeus noted that he had been married for 37 years and had exercised “extremely poor judgment’ in conducting an extramarital affair.”

What do you think of this as a reason to resign? Certainly an extramarital affair does show poor judgement, but does it somehow make him unfit to be the Director of the CIA?

Should other people in other positions resign because of extramarital affairs, or is a position like Petraeus’ somehow more damaged by an extramarital affair?

Can someone be a “good man” and good Director even if he has had an affair?


Here is Gen. Petraeus’ letter of resignation, as sent to the President on Thursday:


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

Some people suggest that this is related to the Benghazi killings. From Breitbart.com*:

Just two days after President Obama’s re-election, General David Petraeus, the CIA Director, has resigned from the administration over an extramarital affair. Petraeus was slated to testify before Congress next week on the murder of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, in Benghazi. Bret Baier of Fox News just tweeted, “With Petraeus’ resignation effective immediately, he will not testify next week & lawmakers are said to be ‘stunned’ by the announcement.”


*the editorial staff of GMP does not endorse this position, we are merely offering it up for discussion.

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  1. A question that comes to mind is,why did SHE do it?

  2. Perhaps the fallout will prompt the mainstreaming of a man or woman having multiple partners – whether through concubinage, swinging, or poly

  3. Oops thumb typing – that is why homosexuals were..,.

  4. @ Mysti- that is the crux, the possibility of blackmail…
    That is why were distrusted in Government service…
    OK except for Roy Cohn & Hoover- but then they wrote the book on blackmail …

  5. Mysti Berry says:

    He’s not just anyone–he’s the leader of the CIA–should never leave himself vulnerable to blackmail. The hookers and blow thing earlier this year makes it clear that a culture of “boys will be boys” is not good for any government organization. Sorry, I guess it was just hookers, no drugs.

    It’s just possible that Petraus didn’t live up to his own personal standards, and took the action he felt necessary. Though one does wonder about the timing in regards his testimony.

  6. Petraus’ wife works in the Federal gov’t, too….I guess he pissed off a lot of people in Washington

  7. Wellokaythen LOL I love your argument…I just think he’s using an excuse to cover himself up for something in the near future which will be Very impactful on him and the nation as well (as suggested by the killings speculation)…I only wonder, did he also resign from his marriage as well? Or has he sorted the issue out with his wife first? I’d hate to be his wife or kids and see on national news that he’s resigned because of an affair and yet we haven’t sat down to discuss our next step, now That would be devastating. And no, this doesn’t warrant a resignation unless ‘the other woman’ works in the same office, has a scoop of intelligence information or he’s a marriage counselor 😉 Ellen

  8. courage the cowardly dog says:

    Of course he should resign. I suspect Obama knew of the affair before the election too, but did not want anything that would further damage his reelection prospects to get out before the election. Obama took alot of heat over Benghazi, as he should, how really foresightful must you be to consider providing your consolate in an unstable Islamist country with additional security on the anniversary of 9/11. Is it really necessary for the ambassador to ask for additional security as he apparently did. I am sure when this thing blew up in his face Obama was looking to Petraeus to provide him cover and may have discovered the affair then. Cheating on your spouse is wrong and as a person holding a position of trust, if he can’t be faithful to his wife why should I believe he will be faithful to his duty to protect me and my family. I find it abhorent to minimize the offensiveness of infidelity. It is wrong. It should not be condoned and he should resign and if he refused to he should be fired.

  9. His call. The affair wasn’t exactly a respectable decision, but if he needs to resign (I think this is a form of self punishment) in order to maintain his dignity and show discipline, then I guess we can only wish him luck in his future pursuits.

  10. Grey Aiken says:

    Well, more like Wolf guarding the fox house. Whatever, you know what I mean.

  11. I believe he is right to admit his transgression and sends a message to the nation and his former troops that he is willing to accept responsibility for his actions.

    As a veteran, he brings great credit upon himself to accept responsibliity, especially as a highly regarded public servant and military leader that thousands of troops served under. Repairing the damage in his family will be his next great challenge.

    This begs the question, why was the FBI investigating the CIA?

  12. Unless it involved some breach of secrecy or of the demands of his duty, hell no.

  13. In politics, the problem is never simply the misconduct, its what people do to cover it up. Perhaps Patraeus just discovered he was having an affair this morning and so decided it was the right thing to resign, but I doubt it.
    Its also interesting to note that Patraeus’s name has never come up in the GOP’s ongoing attacks regarding the fall of our embassy in Benghazi. Patraeus is the head of the CIA and his name doesn’t come up? Perhaps the Republican Party will recall that he exists now.

    • wellokaythen says:

      Politicians generally treat the intelligence community with kid gloves, for good reasons. The heads of the CIA and FBI have all sorts of information on all sorts of people. Ever since J. Edgar Hoover, who had a file on every national political figure and most celebrities, politicians have generally been reluctant to be too aggressive towards these agencies, unless there’s safety in numbers like during the feeding frenzy of the Watergate years.

      You would only go after them if you are sure you have absolutely nothing to hide. Not many of us have nothing to hide, however. Even if the feds don’t know, YOU know what you did….

  14. Grey Aiken says:

    Are you kidding me? Of course it’s a good reason to resign his post.

    He’s the head of the Central Intelligence Agency and he can’t even keep a lousy extramarital affair under wraps? This is a guy you trust to have life saving intel on terrorist attacks and keep your nation’s darkest secrets, and you’re seriously suggesting that he should keep his post after proving unable to keep something as banal as an affair a secret? Give me a break.

    • wellokaythen says:

      Good point. He can’t maintain the secrecy of Operation Cheap Motel, which only involves one additional asset, so how is he going to keep the really big secrets involving dozens of assets? Losing track of his second cell phone is just a really bad sign…..

      • Joanna Schroeder says:

        Totally agree with this one. It’s basically my only argument for his resignation in this matter.

        • wellokaythen says:

          Someone in Russia, China, or Pakistan (or Langley or Quantico) is getting a commendation in their personnel record for uncovering the existence and identity of Petraeus’ mistress. Or for framing him. Or getting him to resign to cover up something that was actually worse than an affair.

          I watch movies. I know how this all works…..

      • I think that’s a great take on this one, wellokaythen. I don’t think affairs disqualify someone from performing unrelated duties as a general rule, but as his position involves keeping secrets, and presumably not making himself vulnerable to blackmail, it seems pretty hard to overlook in this case.

        Petraeus aside, I’m a bit troubled by the throwaway question at the end: “Can someone be a ‘good man’ and good Director even if he has had an affair?”, which is just a specific case of, “Can someone be a ‘good man’ even if he ________?” I think it’s a question that breeds intolerance, and encourages very black and white thinking about goodness instead of recognizing the complexity of how people can be both good and bad depending on what quality is being examined, and who’s setting the criteria.

    • For God’s sake: The m an tells you it’s because of an affair and YOU need to make it because of the Obama Adm. What is it about you people that makes you have a need to supply people with your version of their mindset?

      • Grey Aiken says:

        What do you mean, YOU people?

      • wellokaythen says:

        I don’t think Grey Aiken said anything about the Obama administration. Is this in response to Ellen’s post? I think she’s the only one who suggested that is has to do with presidential politics, so who are the “you people” mentioned in your post?

  15. wellokaythen says:

    We have no details whatsoever, and we don’t know the relationship between the affair and the resignation. There could be aspects of the affair itself that undermined his job performance or have compromised his position within the intelligence community. (Sleeping with a woman who’s an agent of another government, showing his mistress where the secret space ships are kept, giving her Q clearance in exchange for sexual favors, using top secret experimental aphrodisiacs, etc.) It could because of specific details of this particular affair, not just the fact that he cheated at all.

    If he told us what he did, he’d have to kill us.

    I doubt this is a cover story for just wanting to resign because Obama got re-elected. If he just wanted a way out, he would just say he’s retiring to spend more time with his family. I suspect this is coming out now because it was about to go public anyway and he wanted to get out in front of it.

  16. I agree with Ellen that no one should be forced to reason because of an affair.

    However, I would point out that it is perfectly acceptable to quit your job in order to save your marriage.

    This seems to assume that the job would not survive the affair, but from the little information we have, it also seems possible that the marriage would not survive the job.

    I find it entirely possible that Patreus may be the kind if man who is willing to fight for his marriage, and that resigning his job may be the first step towards winning his marriage back.

    • Julie Maddux says:

      I like your way of thinking Mike L. Of course it was a horrible lapse in judgement but it was a VERY personal lapse that we do not know all of the details. Instead of stomping on his man’s reputation I think it would be appropriate to praise him for having the courage to stand up in front of the WORLD and admit his transgression. I thank him for his service to our country and wish him nothing but the best.

  17. I think that was just the excuse he used. I think it had more to do with Obama’s reelection. But to answer your question, no, I don’t think that is a reason to fire, impeach, or force to resign anyone. Unless, of course, your job is marriage counseling.

    • For God’s sake: The m an tells you it’s because of an affair and YOU need to make it because of the Obama Adm. What is it about you people that makes you have a need to supply people with your version of their mindset? If

    • Mia McDonald says:

      I agree with Ellen, and would also add unless the affair was with someone from “the other side” — otherwise, it seems like a private (and dull) matter.

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