David Petraeus resigned his post as director of the Central Intelligence Agency on Friday, citing an extramarital affair.
Petraeus visited the White House on Thursday to ask President Barack Obama to accept his resignation “for personal reasons,” he said in a statement to CIA staff. “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.”
The resignation comes as the intelligence community remains under pressure over the attack in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others.
In a statement, Obama said he accepted Petraeus’s resignation and expressed confidence in Michael Morrell, the deputy director, as he took over as acting director.
Petraeus “provided extraordinary service to the United States for decades,” Obama said. “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, where he helped our nation put those wars on a path to a responsible end. As Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, he has continued to serve with characteristic intellectual rigor, dedication, and patriotism.
“By any measure, through his lifetime of service David Petraeus has made our country safer and stronger,” Petraeus said.
“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,” Petraeus said. “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.”
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper praised Petraues’ service Friday afternoon.
“Since he took over as Director in September of last year, he and I have worked together to tackle some of the most challenging issues faced by the Intelligence Community in more than a decade,” Clapper said.
“Under his leadership, the CIA remained instrumental in providing our policy makers decision advantage through the best possible intelligence. I’m particularly thankful for Dave’s unwavering support and personal commitment to my efforts to lead the Intelligence Community and integrate our intelligence enterprise.”
Petraeus spent nearly four decades in the Army, before retiring last summer to take the job heading the CIA. Before Friday’s revelation, his name had been under some discussion as a potential replacement for Leon Panetta as secretary of Defense.