General Petraeus, who effectively led American troops in the “surge” in Iraq and Afghanistan, resigned as director of the CIA. He confessed to having an affair with a woman who had written a book about him.
CIA Director David H. Petraeus resigned Friday and admitted to having an extramarital affair, bringing a shocking end to his brief tenure at the spy agency and highly decorated national security career.
The affair came to light as part of an FBI investigation into a potential security breach involving Petraeus’s e-mails, according to federal law enforcement officials and a former senior intelligence official. The investigation uncovered e-mails describing an affair between Petraeus and Paula Broadwell, a former military officer and co-author of a glowing biography of Petraeus, according to two law enforcement officials who were briefed on the investigation.
Petraeus, a retired four-star Army general who once was seen as a potential presidential candidate, met with President Obama on Thursday and said he intended to step down because of the affair, Obama administration officials said. The president accepted his resignation Friday.
“After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair,” Petraeus said in a statement distributed to the CIA workforce Friday.“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,” he said. . . .
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Friday that she believed Petraeus’s infidelity did not require him to resign.
“I wish President Obama had not accepted this resignation, but I understand and respect the decision,” she said in a statement. She described Petraeus’s resignation as an “enormous loss for our nation’s intelligence community and for our country.”
Here are some of the ugly details. But some are saying that his transgression in itself is not considered necessarily a reason to lose his job. (Dianne Feinstein’s response is telling.) Petraeus could possibly have hung on to his job. And yet, he felt shame and guilt to the point of resigning his office and ending his extremely successful career, which many were hoping might lead to the Presidency.
Notice that sexual morality has not entirely faded away. Though pre-marital sex, homosexuality, and pornography have become socially acceptable, adultery retains its stigma. And rape and sex with children remain abhorrent, deserving harsh punishment. This is evidence that sex has an objective moral significance that cannot be easily evaded. Then again, if we accept pre-marital sex, how long can we still oppose extra-marital sex? If sex is “no big deal” between adults, why is it a big deal when it is between adults and children? Or perhaps, before we slide further down that slippery slope, we will perceive once more, from bitter experience, that sexual morality is real.