The resignation of the acclaimed national American hero, four-star general David Petraeus, as CI Director is being presented by his friends as an honorable act in the light of an extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, 39 – and nothing else.
The affair is said to have come out after the FBI placed his extramarital partner, author of his biography “All In,” under investigation for “improperly trying to access his email and possibly gaining access to classified information.”
Petraeus stepped down as Central Intelligence Director Thursday, Nov. 8, after serving less than a year. In his letter of resignation he wrote, “Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours.” The President accepted his resignation Friday.
The point is that during his 2010-2011 stint as commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, Petraeus and his biographer Broadwell were often seen together and tongues already wagged then. Before that, he served as head of the US Central Command and commander of US forces in Iraq, where his “surge” doctrine brought the US war to a successful end.
For a public figure of his stature and heroic repute, an extramarital affair would not normally these days be considered reason enough to quit his job. Bill Clinton’s presidency survived his affair with Monica Lewinsky, although the US president, who officiates as Commander in Chief of US forces and responsible for the CIA, lied to Congress.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said the president should not have accepted his resignation. “A personal mistake should not have led to his departure.”
Informed sources in Washington told debkafile that they believed there was something more than an extramarital affair behind the Petraeus resignation and the FBI’s probe of Paula Broadwell.
The FBI denied the director himself was under investigation.
The chronology is also problematical. President Obama is said by some Washington sources to have had the letter on his desk no earlier than Nov. 8 and only discovered it was coming on Nov. 7 while he was celebrating his election victory over Republican Mitt Romney. Yet the FBI probe must have started much earlier and its chief, Robert Mueller, would not have launched an inquiry touching on the CIA director without consulting with the president and so Obama must have known it was coming well before the election.
Nursing the wounds of their election defeat, Republican party leaders, are trying to connect the Petraeus affair with the still murky circumstances surrounding the murder of US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans at the Benghazi consulate in Libya on Sept. 10 at the hands of terrorists.
This affair has still not been cleared up three months later and the labored explanations coming from the State Department and CIA have only deepened the mystery.
Republicans and many US media have called loudly for an inquiry into allegations of a cover-up hatched by the administration to keep a major security debacle dark before it damaged Obama’s campaign for reelection and marred the kudos he won as a valiant crusader by finishing off Osama bin Laden.
Next Thursday, Nov. 15, the Senate Intelligence Committee begins its hearings on the Benghazi affair. Heads of US security organizations and senior White House advisers on terror will be summoned to testify. Petraeus was bound to be on the list in his capacity as CIA director.
However, some hours after his resignation was made public, it was announced that he would not be called to testify. This was confirmed by the committee chair, Sen. Feinstein. The announcement followed speculation that he may have quit for the sake of protecting the president from embarrassing disclosures he was bound to make on the Libyan incident.
This theory ties in with Sen. Feinstein’s first response to Gen. Petraeus’ decision to step down, which was to criticize her fellow Democrat in the White House. “I wish President Obama had not accepted this resignation,” she said. “I wanted him to continue. He was good, he loved the work, and he had a command of intelligence issues second to none.”
If the speculation is true, Petraeus may not be the only high Obama administration official to pay the price for Benghazi. Our Washington sources predict that the US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Elizabeth Rice, may lose the State Department she was promised after Hillary Clinton’s departure, in case she faced questions about the Libyan attack at the congressional hearings for her endorsement as secretary of state.
The Senate Intelligence Committee still has the authority to summon both Petraeus and Rice to answer questions on this troublesome incident. That would be up to Chairperson Feinstein.
Does all this mean that Al Qaeda scored a double coup in Benghazi? Knocking over the American chief of intelligence and stalling the career of a brilliant US diplomat? Or is there quite a different story behind the abrupt Petraeus exit? Watch out for more revelations.