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General Petraeus affair raises deep personal and public questions

CIA Director David Petraeus has resigned over an extra-marital affair, reportedly with his biographer. How did the FBI learn that his personal e-mail account had been hacked? What happens to the spy agency now, under fire for its handling of the terrorist attack at Benghazi?

By Staff writer / November 10, 2012

Holly Petraeus holds the family Bible as her husband David Petraeus is sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden as CIA Director at the White House in Sept. 2011.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP


The news that shocked Washington this week – the resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus because of an extra-marital affair – leaves a string of unanswered questions.

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How and why was the FBI led to investigate suspicions that Gen. Petraeus’s personal e-mail account had been hacked? Did someone in the CIA opposed to his leadership methods tip off the FBI, as one conspiracy theory alleges?

How did the woman widely reported to have been involved in the affair become so close to the nation’s spymaster? Did she have access to Petraeus’s Gmail account, and were any national secrets compromised?

What happens to the agency now, and will Petraeus testify to Congress this coming week about the CIA’s handling of the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya that killed US ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other American personnel – including two former Navy SEALs working as CIA contract employees?

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What’s clear is that two families now face an uncertain – perhaps devastating – future in the wake of Petraeus’s admitted “extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair.”

Holly Petraeus, his wife of 37 years, has been a leader in caring for military families with financial problems. Mrs. Petraeus is the assistant director for service member affairs at the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – in particular going after abusive bank lending practices and questionable home foreclosures. Mr. and Mrs. Petraeus have two adult children, one of whom served as an infantry platoon leader in Afghanistan.

Many news sources have named Paula Broadwell, the co-author of “All In: The Education of General David Petraeus,” as having been involved in the affair.

Like Petraeus, Ms. Broadwell (some 20 years younger than the retired four-star Army general) is a graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point. She’s a fitness buff who, as author of a book about the nation’s most famous general, became a bit of a celebrity herself – appearing in a string of television interviews, including The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.


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