WASHINGTON -- CIA director David Petraeus unexpectedly resigned Friday, citing “poor judgment” after engaging in an extramarital affair.
In a statement sent to CIA staff, Petraeus said he had personally delivered a letter of resignation to President Obama on Thursday, which was accepted Friday.
“After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair,” Petraeus said. “Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours.”
Petreaus, who turned 60 this week, assumed leadership of America’s fabled spy service in September 2011, replacing Leon E. Panetta, who became secretary of Defense. He previously served as top commander in Afghanistan, head of U.S. Central Command, and top commander in Iraq.
Petraeus’ wife, Holly, is an official with the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. A long-time military wife, she was appointed in 2011 as head of the agency’s Office of Servicemember Affairs, which looks out for the financial interests of people in the armed services.
White House press secretary Jay Carney, who was holding his regular press briefing as news of the resignation broke, declined to offer any details. But in a statement released later, Obama thanked Petraeus for his “extraordinary service.”
“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,” he said.
Obama said he was confident the CIA would “continue to thrive and carry out its essential mission.” Michael Morell, the agency’s deputy director, will serve as acting director.
“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,” he said.
James Clapper, director of National Intelligence, praised Petraeus’ decades of service to the country “in uniform and out.”
“Of all the exceptional men and women I have worked with over the years, I can honestly say that Dave Petraeus stands out as one of our nation’s great patriots,” Clapper said in a statement.
James Puzzanghera contributed to this report.