CIA chief Petraeus’ departure adds to Obama’s to-do list


Published — Sunday 11 November 2012

Last update 11 November 2012 5:56 am

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

WASHINGTON: Fresh from re-election, President Barack Obama’s already full plate got fuller with the resignation of CIA chief David Petraeus over an extramarital affair, giving him another high-profile position to fill.
The revelation brought a startling end to the four-star general’s stellar career, one so productive it had even sparked speculation he would one day run for the White House.
“After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair,” the CIA director said in a message to staff that was released to the media Friday.
Obama acknowledged Petraeus’s departure, praising his “intellectual rigor, dedication, and patriotism.” But there was no denying it added to the president’s headache over the makeup of his new administration, which is already expected to lose heavyweights such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Obama purportedly had no inkling that the CIA chief was about to leave until Thursday morning and refused to accept it straight away, the New York Times reported.
“He was surprised, and he was disappointed,” the Times quoted one senior administration official as saying. “You don’t expect to hear that the Thursday after you were re-elected.” The election was Tuesday.
As he heads into his second term, which starts in late January, Obama will likely also have to find replacements for Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.
Speculation is already rife about who will replace Clinton, who has stressed she wants to reclaim a private life put on hold by decades in the spotlight.
Now, adding to the rumor mill is talk of who might succeed Petraeus, a 60-year-old former paratrooper credited with turning around the Iraq war.
Michael Morell, Petraeus’s deputy at the lead spy agency, will serve as acting director amid signs he might just be a placeholder.
Morell is expected to fill in for Petraeus at an upcoming hearing in Congress about the CIA’s alleged failure to protect a US consulate in Libya from a deadly attack on September 11 that led to the deaths of four Americans, including the ambassador.
One name being floated is that of John Brennan, the White House counter-terrorism adviser and a CIA veteran who has played an instrumental role in Obama’s drone war against Al-Qaeda militants.
Neither Petraeus nor the CIA explained exactly why he felt he had to step down over the affair, and whether his liaison presented a purely personal problem or raised security issues in his sensitive work as spy chief.
The affair came to light as the FBI was investigating whether a computer used by Petraeus had been compromised, the New York Times and other US media reported, citing government officials.
NBC News and other media reported the Federal Bureau of Investigation was investigating Paula Broadwell, co-author of a favorable biography of Petraeus, “All In: The Education of David Petraeus,” for possible improper access to classified information.
Unnamed officials told the Times that Petraeus’s lover was Broadwell, a former Army major who spent long periods interviewing Petraeus for her book. She offered no public comment on the revelations.
Experts noted that if Petraeus, a four-star general who retired to take the CIA job, had committed adultery while still in the army, he could have been court-martialed.
The most celebrated military officer of his generation, Petraeus, 60, took over at the CIA a little over a year ago. He was credited by some with rescuing a failing US war effort in Iraq in 2007, after then president George W. Bush ordered a surge of troops into the country.
Obama later turned to him to lead a similar surge of American forces in Afghanistan in 2010, leaving a top post as commander of all US forces in the Middle East to do so.
But Obama chose not to promote Petraeus to the US military’s top job as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as White House officials remained wary of the media-savvy general who had pushed for more troops and more time in the Afghanistan war.
His military background, however, sometimes clashed with the intelligence agency’s culture and there was some friction with the congressional committees that oversee the spy services.
At the CIA, he had worked to shift the spy agency to a more “balanced” approach to intelligence gathering, after an intense focus on terror threats after the September 11, 2001 attacks, said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer and fellow at the Brookings Institution think tank.
“He had already begun to position the agency to live in the post-9/11 world,” he told AFP.
Senator John McCain, a loyal supporter who championed the general’s surge strategy in Iraq, heaped praised on Petraeus, who is married and has two children.
“General David Petraeus will stand in the ranks of America’s greatest military heroes,” he said.
The journal Foreign Policy, in a blog post, called Patraeus’s downfall a “huge loss for the United States.”
“He would have been a useful check on groupthink inside the Obama administration — an independent voice for a White House often accused of being insular and one-dimensional,” it said.
“Petraeus’s exit leaves a bitter taste. We all make mistakes. Here’s hoping he makes a comeback.”

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

NEW YORK: The Kingdom has drawn the world’s attention again to the racist and inhuman rhetoric against Muslim refugees.It also called on all countries and humanitarian agencies, civil society organizations and the media to abandon any racist speeches...
RIYADH: Various parts of the Kingdom, including Riyadh, Qassim, Hofuf and the Eastern Province, experienced rainfall throughout the day on Tuesday.In view of the inclement weather forecast, all schools in the Riyadh and Qassim will remain closed on W...
RIYADH: The Abdul Salam bin Saleh Al-Rajhi Foundation has announced it will continue to support non-Saudi patients undergoing dialysis due to renal problems.Saleh Al-Rajhi, the foundation’s secretary-general, said that the “program is in accordance w...
JEDDAH: Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal has ordered the formation of a committee comprising government representatives to speed up public transport projects. Prince Faisal unveiled the monthly report on Monday related to Jeddah transport and to f...
JEDDAH: The police in Al-Awamiya village, Qatif Province, have arrested a man suspected of killing a young Saudi in June.The man was injured during his arrest after exchanging fire with police officers, said Col. Ziyad bin Abdulwahab Al-Ruqaiti, spok...
DAMMAM: A call has gone out to change the behavior of drivers, even as it was revealed during the launch of a traffic exhibition that road accidents claimed 2,599 lives and resulted in 8,036 injuries, mostly involving youths, during the last Hijri ye...
RIYADH: A scintillating concert featuring one of the oldest boys’ choirs, who sang classical masterpieces and holiday favorites, left a large group of elite audience spellbound here Monday night. The audience’s eyes were especially glued to the make...
RIYADH: The Consumer Protection Society (CPA) has announced that it would defend parents if private schools access their credit records without permission.In a statement released recently, the CPA’s spokesman Abdulrahman Al-Qahtani said that while it...
RIYADH: Shoura Council will host a two-day meeting of the heads of legislative bodies from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries in Riyadh beginning Wednesday to further bolster the mutual cooperation. “The council has called a consultative me...
RIYADH: The Argentinian Embassy hosted a welcome reception on Monday night for Carlos Zapata, Peru’s new envoy in the Kingdom.Argentinian Ambassador Jaime Sergio Cerda said: “The occasion intends to bolster ties among diplomats from South America and...
JUBAIL: The Urdu Lovers Club Jubail (Gosha-e-Adab) celebrated the launch of a book of poetry by Dr. Sajjad Syed from Delhi here recently.The launch of the work, entitled “Kuch Kaar-e-Sukhan Aur,” was attended by prominent members of the expatriate co...
RIYADH: The Kingdom’s government has launched several efforts to counter attacks on its integrity recently, according to the Interior Ministry.However, Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki, spokesman of the ministry, said there should be greater steps taken to...
DAMMAM: The International Indian School-Dammam (IISD) recently organized EduEx 2015, an educational exhibition. The day is also observed as Children’s Day in India.Every year, IISD organizes this type of exhibition section-wise. This year, it was org...
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is making significant headway in countering human trafficking, according to a report released recently by the US State Department. According to statistics, trafficking in Saudi Arabia is limited compared to the population of the...
JEDDAH: The Special Criminal Court has sentenced a citizen to 15 years in jail and a travel ban for an equal period, for helping to organize and participate in rallies against the state.The court found him guilty of taking photographs of these events...

Events & Exhibitions

Stay Connected