General Petraeus, director of the CIA has resigned, abruptly, in a short letter made public. At first, I was skeptical that there was an affair at all, convinced General Petraeus was either being set up, or voluntarily falling on a sword for the Obama administration. The timing of his departure is perfect for two reasons.
1. He resigns after, and not before the election.
2. He resigns just days before he was scheduled to be the key witness in congressional hearings on the Benghazi incident.
The affair was, according to inside sources but not Petraeus himself, with Paula Broadwell, the author of Petraeus's autobiography All In. She would be a likely candidate. She is not only a Westpoint graduate herself, but she is young and attractive and because she was writing Petraeus' biography, she spent an inordinate amount of time with him with the specific purpose of getting to know him. Also keep in mind, Petraeus was in Afghanistan with Broadwell when the relationship started, away from his wife, in a stressful place. He is not the first soldier to crack, it's even hard for the spouses left at home, the ones not facing war every day to stay committed to such long distance relationships. He won't be the last to go through this mess. Reportedly, the two broke it off shortly after Petraeus came home and assumed his current post, but still maintained an active correspondence via email.
The affair was discovered by accident. The FBI was investigating an unrelated matter regarding security leaks, possibly related to the massive amount of leaks in the months following the Bin Laden raid. During their investigation, which is still ongoing, Broadwell appeared on their radar. They were investigating her specifically for unauthorized access to Petareus' email, which undoubtedly would have contained top secret information. It was there that the FBI discovered emails between Petraeus and Broadwell that revealed their affair. Petraeus seems to have found out about the discovery from the FBI themselves, who were concerned that Petraeus was actually a victim. Though that turned out not to be the case.
Given how much information has become available about the specific details of the affair, it is hard to believe Petraeus would willingly ruin his reputation, much less other people's reputations all to protect the Obama administration, so it is likely thish affair actually happened.
In the days leading up to the election, the CIA, in a surprise move, released a detailed timeline of the events in Benghazi that, frankly, are rather damning to the Obama administration. At best, they were incompetent, displaying a shocking lack of coordination ability and a callous disregard for the truth as they tried to cover themselves during the campaign. At worst, they knowingly abandoned soldiers on the battlefield who were waiting for air support that never came and lied about it to secure the election.
Given the fishy timing of his resignation, there are a few possibilities:
1. Petraeus wanted to resign as soon as possible, but without creating a distraction: I find this to be the most likely case. Petraeus is too honorable not to resign ahead of a scandal like this, even though every person on planet Earth seems to have forgiven him almost immediately. However, Petraeus also is not a crass, self-absorbed politician. Petraeus never wanted to run for office, but this affair also puts the decision to outright reject Romney's VP nod into perspective as well. Petraeus is not one to cause a scene. He does his job to the best of his ability and maintains the highest standard of professionalism ... 99.9% of the time. It does the country no good to create such a huge distraction in the middle of such a contentious election. It is likely Petraeus had planned this departure in his head for a while, and waited until the first possible moment after the election to make it happen. President Obama seemed very confident deputy CIA director Mike Morrell could take over in the interim and handle the Benghazi fallout, leaving me to assume that Petraeus, Obama, and Morrell have been planning this abrupt departure for months, and preparing Morrell to step in. Anything less would have been highly unprofessional and irresponsible on Petraeus's part.
2. Petraeus is being forced to resign and this affair was used as a weapon: President Obama couldn't have been happy with Petraeus releasing that CIA timeline that not only reopened the Benghazi issue, but made the administration look exceptionally bad. Especially since it was only a week before the election. It is possible that the administration is forcing him out as retribution. However if they waited until the end of Obama's term for Petraeus to cleanly step out, that would mean a disgruntled Petraeus would be before congress next week, going into even more details about Benghazi. Something that could potentially be both very embarrassing and very bad for the administration. Once Obama's reelection was assured, they could act on removing Petraeus without worrying how the electorate would perceive it. They could have held this affair over his head, telling him that if he didn't lie to protect them, they'd go public. Rather than be blackmailed, Petraeus probably came out with it to disarm them, and left them without a replacement going into the hearings on purpose.
A spin on this possibility is that Petraeus is voluntarily resigning this way, because there is something to hide on Benghazi. If Petraeus has to get up in front of all that media scrutiny and invoke "that information is classified" over and over again, it will look terrible for both himself and the administration, and depending on the kind of questions that are asked, could invite a lot of unwanted speculation on issues that need to remain top secret — for national security reasons. Who was on the ground there in Benghazi? Who were the sources for the original tip-offs that something might happen? And the list of possible questions goes on. Petraeus may have decided that letting the investigation go with him involved in it was too risky, and opted to use the affair he had as an excuse to bail. Protecting not himself or the administration, but top secret information, the secrecy of which would protect everyone. It sounds like something out of a spy novel, but then again, so does this very well-timed affair.
3. The FBI is making the details public and Petraeus wanted to stay ahead of the news coverage: The FBI has been adamant that they do not believe the investigation will end in criminal charges. However, if she is about to face arrest, or if there is some kind of Freedom of Information Act request coming through the pipeline, it may be that Petraeus' secret was likely to be revealed and he wanted to get to the media first, so he could tell his story himself. In this scenario, the timing is merely a coincidence, though what a coincidence it is.
I tend not to be one to take conspiracy theories seriously. But there are so many unanswered questions on Benghazi, that will conveniently remain unanswered now because of this affair, I can't help but think there is something deeper going on.
One thing is for sure, there doesn't seem to be a single person, other than Petraeus's wife and possibly Broadwell's husband, who holds this against him. Despite this ungraceful exit, General Petraeus is still going down in history as an American hero and one of the greatest generals in our nation's history. He completely rewrote the book on how our country runs wars and is one of the few people who truly changed the world.
A man of his talents is not likely to disappear for very long. I am confident we will see General Petraeus again.