Obama's CIA Director David Petraeus resigns, admits extra-marital affair

David Petraeus

Petraeus' name had circulated speculatively as a possible Republican presidential nominee before Obama tapped him as CIA chief. Before taking the CIA post, he retired as an Army general after nearly four decades of military service.

Petraeus led the CIA for only 14 months. His sudden departure threatened to usher in a period of instability at the spy agency, which is grappling with a leveling off in its budget after a decade of steady increases.

The agency is also fending off questions about its performance before and after the attack that led to the death of US Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi, Libya.

US officials insisted the CIA's handling of the Benghazi incident had nothing to do with Petraeus' decision to resign.

TESTIFY ON CAPITOL HILL

Petraeus recently traveled to Libya and the Middle East, and had been scheduled to testify about the Benghazi events next week behind closed doors to the House and Senate intelligence committees. Now, he will not give that testimony.

There is no indication Petraeus broke any agency rule in connection with his admitted affair, sources familiar with the matter said. The CIA has no broad rule banning officials from engaging in extramarital affairs though, if discovered, liaisons by CIA personnel with suspected foreign agents would pose security problems for a US agent.

In his statement, Obama said I am completely confident that the CIA will continue to thrive and carry out its essential mission.

Obama, who accepted Petraeus' resignation in a phone call with him on Friday afternoon, said Michael Morell, the agency's long-time deputy director, would serve as acting CIA chief.

Morell is a leading candidate to be Petraeus' permanent successor, sources said. He earned Obama's trust when he frequently briefed the president during planning for the operation to take down Osama bin Laden, a senior administration official said.

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