Cia Director David Petraeus’ career came crashing down like a cheap spy novel yesterday when he resigned over an extramarital, wartime affair with a woman who wrote a flattering biography about the retired four-star general.
The bombshell – revealed after Petraeus resigned his post – stunned the political, military and intelligence establishments with reports of steamy e-mails between the two, including a reference to sex under a desk.
Petraeus’ lover was identified as Paula Broadwell, 40 – the co-author of a fawning biography, “All In: The Education of General David Petraeus.”
“After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair,” Petraeus said in a letter to CIA colleagues yesterday.
“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.”
The relationship dated to Petraeus’ days commanding troops in Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011. The affair prompted an FBI investigation over fears that Broadwell had accessed the general’s e-mail, possibly gaining access to classified information.
But another FBI source told Newsmax that the FBI had been intercepting Petraeus’ e-mails since last spring after it mistook one exchange with his girlfriend as a reference to corruption.
His position as CIA director allowed him top security clearance, and since he’s married, the FBI continued to monitor the exchanges.
One e-mail included graphic references about having sex under a desk, the Newsmax report said.
As head of the CIA, philandering is considered a breach of security that could compromise national security by opening him up to blackmail.
The affair itself could be considered grounds for a court-martial.
Broadwell broke off the affair with the 60-year-old Petraeus after he was sworn in as CIA director on Sept. 6, 2011, but he continued to pursue her with numerous e-mails, the Newsmax report said.
Broadwell – who is a reserve army officer in addition to being a writer – describes herself as a national security analyst who resides in Charlotte, NC. She is married to Scott Broadwell, a radiologist, and they have two children. Like Petraeus, she’s a West Point graduate.
Her LinkedIn bio says she served a three-year stint as a liaison officer with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force from 2003 to 2006.
Broadwell was embedded with Petraeus in Afghanistan, and the two would go on five-mile jogs together.
Petraeus was a leading commander in both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars following 9/11. He was credited with the troop “surge” that tamed the Iraq insurgency.
Known as a straight shooter, he was highly regarded on both sides of the political aisle. Republicans touted him as a potential presidential candidate, while President Obama named him to his Cabinet.
Newsweek recently published an article on Petraeus’ 12 rules for living – written by Broadwell. Rule 5: “We all make mistakes. The key is to recognize them and admit them, to learn from them, and to take off the rearview mirrors – drive on and avoid making them again.”
Petraeus was expected to testify at a congressional hearing about the terrorist attack at the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. He will no longer do so.
Petraeus’ wife, Holly, also works in the Obama administration – as an advocate for military veterans at the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The White house was first notified about the Petraeus affair on Wednesday – the day after the election – but Obama wasn’t informed until Thursday morning.
Without referring to the scandal, Obama issued a statement thanking Petraeus for his “extraordinary service” to America and for making the nation “safer and stronger.”
“By any measure, he was one of the outstanding general officers of his generation, helping our military adapt to new challenges and leading our men and women in uniform through a remarkable period of service in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Going forward, my thoughts and prayers are with Dave and Holly Petraeus, who has done so much to help military families through her own work. I wish them the very best at this difficult time.”
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Petraeus stood in “the ranks of American’s greatest military heroes.”