CIA Director David Petraeus, the recently retired four-star Army general who arguably was the nation’s most famous and revered soldier since 9/11, resigned in disgrace Friday over an extra-marital affair that was about to go public.
In a statement, Petraeus acknowledged that he "showed extremely poor judgment" in betraying his wife of 37 years, Holly Petraeus, who has won praise as a consumer advocate for military families.
"Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as a leader of an organization such as ours" in which integrity and personal trust are at a premium, Petraeus said.
President Obama accepted Petraeus’ resignation by phone and later noted in a statement that Petraeus "has provided extraordinary service to the U.S. for decades" in uniform. Petraeus, the architect of the surge in Iraq who also was overall commander of allied troops in Afghanistan, helped "put those wars on a path to a responsible end," Obama said.
Obama said of David and Holly Petraeus that "I wish them both the very best in this difficult time."
Long-time CIA operative Michael Morell, who previously served as acting CIA director during the transition from former CIA Director Leon Panetta to Petraeus, will take on the acting role again while a successor is chosen, the White House said.
In his statement, Petraeus paid tribute to the CIA agents he was leaving behind. "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," Petraeus said.
As CIA director, Petraeus has faced unaccustomed criticism lately over the agency’s response to the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Congressional Republicans had been expected to call him to testify at hearings on the attack, but it had been unclear whether the White House would permit him to testify.