Petraeus’ Curveball Stuns the U.S. Government


The Director of the CIA, David Petraeus, reigned this week after admitting that he engaged in an extramarital affair. Petraeus met with President Obama on Thursday and asked for permission to resign from his position due to personal reasons, specifically his poor judgment. Obama accepted the resignation and went on to praise Petraeus for his work at the CIA.

Petraeus’ career as an extensively respected scholar and brilliant military leader has come to an end. Petraeus led the U.S. in the war in Iraq, and also led the U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. Petraeus was admired to such an extent that his name had circulated as a possible Republican presidential nominee before Obama appointed him as the Director of the CIA.

Petraeus held his position in the CIA for only fourteen months, and his resignation has been accompanied by threats of a period of instability at the CIA, which is currently struggling with a leveling off in its budget after a decade of steady increases. The CIA has also been criticized recently with questions regarding its performance prior to the attack that led to the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. Petraeus recently returned from Libya and was scheduled to testify about the Benghazi events next week.

Those who worked closely with Petraeus were stunned by his resignation. Senator Dianne Feinstein, a democrat and the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, stated, “I wish President Obama had not accepted this resignation, but I understand and respect the decision.”

While Petraeus did not violate any CIA regulation by engaging in his extra-marital affair, do you think it was the right move for him to resign from his position? Could this lack of trustworthiness be classified as a security problem due to Petraeus’ high level of clearance in the U.S. government? This resignation leaves another open spot (Clinton and Panetta are expected to leave) in President Obama’s national security team. What effects if any could this decision have relating to U.S. foreign affairs in Libya, the Middle East, and the rest of the world? President Obama has stated that he is confident that the CIA will continue to accomplish its objectives efficiently, but others feel that the loss of Petraeus could be devastating.

Source:  Chicago Tribune


  1. First, the picture and headline really express the theme of this whole debacle so good work on that Mr. Dowdle.
    I think everyone agrees that Petraeus made a huge error in judgement and allowed an outsider to gain insight into intelligence information. While it may not have been the names of all intelligence agents- she did manage to get inside the mind of the highest level U.S. intelligence agent. And that is a huge problem and a huge security breach.(Not to mention her actions and those of another woman are making them out to be psychos but lets stick to news points).
    I do not think that this will effect foreign policy. These organizations all seem to have stable succession structures. The only kink in this chain may be the attack on the embassy in Libya and the potential terminations to stem from that incident. While this may have been a bombshell, President Obama knew of Secretary Clinton’s potential resignation for at least a year and Secretary Panetta always seemed like a temporary replacement until the 2012 election. And there is always the fact that these Cabinet members serve at the command of the President. He is free to reject these resignations and make them stay longer to ensure stability.
    There is also how this will be viewed by the rest of the world. Let’s be honest: some cultures just do not care about adultery or extra-marital affairs. The U.S. also seems to have selective caring. We almost glorify JFK’s affair with Marilyn Monroe and its well known that former CIA Director Allen Dulles-arguably the most important intelligence figure in the 20th century- had many affairs. And let’s not forget Bill Clinton, who, if allowed, could probably have single handily trumped both Romney and Obama in the recent election.

  2. A Politico blog post made me consider someone I hadn’t thought of since the surfacing of this scandal – Patraeus himself. Senator Dianne Feinstein from California, as mentioned above, expressed great regret that Patraeus chose to resign, referring to his resignation as “a heartbreak.” She offered her sympathy as the former CIA director makes his transition back to civilian life; “Whether you’re a private or a four-star, coming back into civilian society is difficult…Here’s a man – you see the medals he has, you see the stars, one day, he takes all of that off.” She makes a great point, one that we all probably overlooked as we were being fed the juicy details and finding someone to blame.
    Many people oppose Patraeus’ decision to resign. A Forbes staff member, Susan Adams, wrote, “I also think that once the bureau discovered Petraeus’ affair with Broadwell and learned that the general leaked no classified documents to his mistress, it could have acted with much more discretion.” Maybe a public apology would have sufficed and we wouldn’t have lost our very competent and experienced military leader. Maybe the FBI’s full-scale investigation of e-mails to Jill Kelly went too far.

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