In the preface to the book, Broadwell said that after Obama picked Petraeus to lead U.S.
forces in Afghanistan in June 2010, he invited her to Kabul, and she decided to turn her dissertation into a biography. She made repeated trips to Afghanistan to spend time observing Petraeus.
In describing Petraeus in a CBS News interview two months ago, she said: “He, at the end of the day, is human and is challenged by the burdens of command. . . . So, he has this mask of command — you think he’s really confident — but I got to see a more personal side. He’s confident, but he’s also very compassionate about the loss of troops and sacrifices we’re making in Afghanistan.”
Petraeus was scheduled to testify next week on Capitol Hill in hearings on the deaths of four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador and two CIA security officers, in Libya in September.
U.S. officials insisted that the controversy surrounding the attack — and the administration’s shifting accounts of it — played no role in Petraeus’s decision to resign.
Petraeus’s 14-month tenure as CIA director is one of the shortest in agency history.
Michael J. Morell, who served as Petraeus’s deputy at the CIA, will serve as interim director, a position he occupied for several months before Petraeus was sworn in. Morell is seen as a leading candidate to replace Petraeus, but there are others, including Michael G. Vickers, a former CIA paramilitary officer now serving as undersecretary of defense for intelligence.
Petraeus came into the CIA job after a highly decorated Army career that included command of the war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, which made him one of the most venerated officers of his generation.
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.”
The nature of Petraeus’s resignation is likely to leave a stain on the polished reputation he cultivated during his 37-year military career. Petraeus was widely credited with helping to reverse the course of the war in Iraq and overhauling the military’s approach to counterinsurgency fighting. Petraeus was later handed command of the war in Afghanistan, where success proved more elusive.
Because of his evident ambition and abundant publicity, some military rivals saw Petraeus as preening and self-aggrandizing. He did little to discourage speculation that he could be a presidential or vice presidential candidate and quietly campaigned for the CIA job when his path to higher military positions was blocked.
At the agency, Petraeus presided over an expansion of the CIA’s Predator drone campaign in Yemen and was recently behind a push to expand the agency’s drone fleet. He was involved in decisions to carry out controversial strikes, including the Predator attacks last year that killed two U.S. citizens: the al-Qaeda figure Anwar al-Awlaki and his teenage son.
Petraeus, who retired from the military last year, is still subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which classifies adultery as a crime.
Practically speaking, however, the odds are extremely low that the military would prosecute a retired officer for having an affair, said Eugene R. Fidell, a prominent military law expert who teaches at Yale University.
“They’re as close to zero as you can get,” Fidell said. “It would have to be a grave matter before the executive branch would prosecute a retiree.”
Petraeus married Holly two months after graduating from West Point. His courtship was seen as audacious because of her father’s rank at the elite military academy. They have two children, Stephen, who became an Army officer, and Anne.
Petraeus has frequently praised his wife in public appearances for her sacrifices and contributions to his career, and he characterized his return to Washington as an opportunity for them to be closer after his years-long assignments overseas.
As Petraeus assumed a low profile when he moved to the CIA, his wife became increasingly visible at the Pentagon as part of her work for a government agency that helps service members manage their finances. In recent months, she has traveled to dozens of military bases around the country to counsel soldiers about predatory lending, student loans and debt.
Max Fisher, Ernesto Londoño, Julie Tate, Joby Warrick, Craig Whitlock and Scott Wilson contributed to this report.