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The newly released White House Benghazi emails reveal the then CIA-Director David Petraeus strongly objected to the Obama administration’s version of events of the terror attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Libya.
David Petraeus, who was forced to resign in disgrace in November after an extra-marital affair with Paula Broadwell became public, wanted to see more detail made available, including a warning issued from the CIA about plans for an embassy attack.
The documents give a glimpse into the administration’s message control as officials carefully debated via email which details U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice should highlight when she went on talk shows five days later to discuss the September 11 assault on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.
The White House on Wednesday released 99 pages of emails and a single page of hand-written notes made by Petraeus’ deputy, Mike Morell, after a meeting at the White House the day before U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice began giving interviews to the media based on the agreed “talking points”.
On that page, Mike Morell scratched out from the CIA’s early drafts of talking points mentions of al-Qaeda, the experience of fighters in Libya, Islamic extremists and a warning to the U.S. Embassy in Cairo on the eve of the attacks of calls for a demonstration.
“No mention of the cable to Cairo, either?” David Petraeus wrote after receiving Mike Morell’s edited version, developed after an intense back-and-forth among Obama administration officials.
“Frankly, I’d just as soon not use this, then.”
Senior administration officials told reporters Wednesday that Mike Morell made the changes to the talking points because of his own concerns that they could prejudge an FBI investigation into who was responsible for the September 11th, 2012, attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
The officials said Mike Morell also didn’t think it was fair to disclose the CIA’s advance warning without giving Hillary Clinton’s State Department a chance to explain how it responded.
The officials spoke on a condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the emails on the record.
Officials said that Mike Morell acted on his own judgement and not with any pressure coming down from the State Department.
However, when David Petraeus received the final draft of the media talking points he was dismissive, saying that the reduced list would not satisfy the House Democrat who had asked for it.
“This is certainly not what Vice Chairman Ruppersberger was hoping to get,” David Petraeus wrote, in reference to Representative C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
The White House released the emails to the media after some of them leaked on Friday and seemed to suggest that President Barack Obama’s national security team may have altered the talking points for political gain.
And while the White House claims these are all the correspondence that occurred in the aftermath of the terror attack on Benghazi, they suggest more of battle between the State Department and the CIA – rather than the president’s own team.
“In recent days, these e-mails have been selectively and inaccurately read out to the media,” said a White House spokesman, Eric Schultz.
Critics have highlighted an email by then-State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland that expressed concern that any mention of prior warnings or the involvement of al-Qaeda would give congressional Republicans ammunition to attack the administration in the weeks before the presidential election. Fighting terror was one of President Barack Obama’s re-election strong points.
That email was among those released by the White House, sent by Victoria Nuland on September 14th at 7:39 p.m. to officials in the White House, State Department and CIA.
“I have serious concerns about all the parts highlighted below, and arming members of Congress to start making assertions to the media that we ourselves are not making because we don’t want to prejudice the investigation,” she wrote.
In another, Victoria Nuland sends the White House and intelligence officials an email warning that the talking points could be “abused” by opposition politicians “to beat the State Department for not paying attention to agency warnings so why do we want to feed that either?”.
White House Benghazi emails reveal the then CIA-Director David Petraeus strongly objected to the Obama administration’s version of events of the terror attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Libya
The emails were shared with Congress earlier this year as a condition for allowing the nomination of John Brennan for CIA director to move forward.
The general counsel for the national intelligence director’s office briefed members and staff from the Senate Intelligence Committee and leadership on the emails on February 15th at a session in which staff could take notes.
A similar briefing took place March 19 for the House Intelligence Committee and leadership staff.
An interim report last month from the Republicans on five House committees criticized the Obama administration and mentioned the emails, but the issue exploded last Friday when new details emerged.
Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee read some of the emails aloud last Wednesday at a hearing with State Department officials.
The next day, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called on the White House to release the emails.
Congressional officials selectively shared parts of the emails, and new revelations emerged Friday that showed State Department and other administration officials pressing for references to terror groups and prior warnings to be deleted, expressing concerns about the political implications.
The White House released the full set of emails sent to Congress under the pressure in hopes of putting an end to the controversy that has dogged the administration for months.
The White House says congressional Republicans have misrepresented some of them.
The emails released by the White House were partially blacked out, including to remove names of senders and recipients who are career employees at the CIA and elsewhere.
The names were replaced with references to the office where they worked.
The talking points were used by Rice in her appearance on five news shows on Sunday, September 16, and also sent to Congress.
An official with the CIA’s office of congressional affairs whose name was blacked out sent the final version to David Petraeus on Saturday, September 15, at 12:51 p.m.
“As mentioned last night, State had voiced strong concerns with the original text due to the criminal investigation,” the official wrote.
David Petraeus responded at 2:27 saying he’d prefer not to even use them in that form.
But he said the decision was up to the White House’s national security staff.
“NSS’s call, to be sure; however, this is certainly not what Vice Chairman [Dutch] Ruppersberger was hoping to get for unclas use. Regardless, thanks for the great work.”
C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger is the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
At a Capitol Hill hearing Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder said there has been “very, very substantial progress” in the investigation into who was responsible for the twin nighttime attacks in Benghazi.
Earlier this month, the FBI said it was seeking information on three people who were on the grounds of the diplomatic mission when it was attacked.
The FBI posted photographs of the three people and said they may be able to provide information to help in the investigation.
Rep. Adam Smith of Washington State, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, said Wednesday’s release of the emails was a “wise choice”.
There was little in the roughly 100 pages of emails about Susan Rice’s “talking points” that had not been leaked previously.
While awkward for the White House, releasing the emails was an effort to counter complaints from Republicans and the media that President Barack Obama’s administration is secretive.
They included an email confirming perhaps the most damaging charge that administration officials removed mention from Susan Rice’s talking points that the CIA had warned of an al-Qaeda threat in the area of the eastern Libyan city before the attacks.
In the Benghazi emails, then-State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland raised concerns about references to intelligence about the threat from militants in eastern Libya.
Victoria Nuland wrote that she had “serious concerns” that the talking points would provide members of Congress with material to “beat the State Department for not paying attention to [Central Intelligence] Agency warnings” about threats in the region.
It was not clear who she was referring to but Republicans have tried to link former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a possible Democratic candidate for president in 2016, to the controversy over Benghazi.
“The seemingly political nature of the State Department’s concerns raises questions about the motivations behind these changes and who at the State Department was seeking them,” said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner.
Republicans say the talking points were an attempt to portray the attacks as arising from a spontaneous protest, and not an organized militant assault, so as to protect Barack Obama in last year’s presidential campaign from any charges that he was weak on fighting terrorism.
The White House vehemently denies any cover-up and emphasizes that the controversy over the talking points focuses on intelligence that eventually evolved. The emails, officials said, showed a normal back and forth between government agencies on a fluid national security event.
“Collectively these emails make clear that the interagency process, including the White House’s interactions, were focused on providing the facts as we knew them based on the best information available at the time and protecting an ongoing investigation,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.
Officials also suggested that Victoria Nuland was not the only one with concerns about the original talking points.
White House Benghazi Emails
Former CIA Director David Petraeus was betrayed by his own bodyguards and vengeful high-ranking enemies in the CIA, who made sure his affair with Paula Broadwell was exposed to the public, a new book claims.
It comes from two retired special operations commandos – a Navy SEAL and a Green Beret – who say they discovered a plot against David Petraeus while doing research about the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Senior CIA officers targeted David Petraeus because they didn’t like the way he was running the agency – focusing more on paramilitary operations than intelligence analysis. They used their political clout and their connections to force an FBI investigation of his affair with Paula Broadwell and make it public, according to Benghazi: The Definitive Report.
Jack Murphy and co-author Brandon Webb also revealed that the September 11 Benghazi terrorist attack that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, was retaliation by Islamist militants who had been targeted by covert U.S. military operations.
The book claims that neither Chris Stevens nor even David Petraeus knew about the raids by American special operations troops, which had “kicked a hornet’s nest” among the heavily-armed fighters after the overthrow of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser, had been authorizing “unilateral operations in North Africa outside of the traditional command structure”, according to the e-book.
John Brennan is Barack Obama’s pick to replace David Petraeus as head of the CIA.
Benghazi: The Definitive Report, published by William Morrow and Company, is due out in e-book on Tuesday. The authors, Brandon Webb and Jack Murphy, are editors of SOFREP.com, a site devoted to news and stories written by current and former special operations commandos.
Perhaps the most startling accusation in the book is that David Petraeus’ affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell was leaked by the
members of his personal protection detail.
The authors say that senior intelligence officers working on the 7th floor of CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, used their political clout to ensure that the FBI investigated the former Army general’s personal life.
They then told David Petraeus that they would publicly humiliate him if he didn’t admit the affair and resign.
“It was well known to Petraeus’s Personal Security Detachment [bodyguards] that he and Broadwell were having an affair. He wasn’t the only high-ranking Agency head or general engaged in extramarital relations, but when the 7th floor wanted Petraeus out, they cashed in their chips,” Brandon Webb and Jack Murphy write.
The book continues: “The reality of the situation is that high-ranking CIA officers had already discovered the affair by consulting with Petraeus’s PSD and then found a way to initiate an FBI investigation in order to create a string of evidence and an investigative trail that led to the information they already had – in other words, an official investigation that could be used to force Petraeus to resign.”
Brandon Webb and Jack Murphy said the CIA bureaucracy wanted David Petraeus out of the CIA. Senior officials were furious over the way he had been running the agency since he was appointed in September 2011.
David Petraeus was betrayed by his own bodyguards, who made sure his affair with Paula Broadwell was exposed to the public, claims the book
David Petraeus was turning the agency’s focus from intelligence gathering and analysis to paramilitary operations, including drone strikes.
Additionally, he ran the CIA like a four-star general, instead of treating it like a political institution, the authors say. His management style made countless powerful enemies within the CIA.
On November 9, three days after Barack Obama’s reelection, David Petraeus shocked the USA by resigning as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and admitting that he had been sleeping with Paula Broadwell – whom he had met while she was researching her biography of him, All In: The Education of General David Petraeus.
Before he was publicly castigated, David Petraeus was the most high-profile and highly-respected commander in the military. His counter-insurgency strategy was credited with turning the tide in the Iraq War and securing the country so U.S. troops could withdraw. He also commanded a surge of American forces in Afghanistan.
David Petraeus, 60, earned a Ph.D. from Princeton University and was hailed as a “warrior scholar”. Before his resignation, he was mentioned as a possible vice presidential nominee for Republican candidate Mitt Romney.
His public image is in shambles after the affair went public.
Media reports indicate that the FBI began investigating David Petraeus’ affair with Paula Broadwell after Tampa socialite Jill Kelley, a friend of Petraeus and his wife Holly, reported that she had received threatening emails from the mistress warning her to stay away from the CIA director.
The authors say that Jill Kelley’s report may have started in the FBI investigation – but CIA officers pressured the Justice Department to keep the inquiry open.
Brandon Webb said his sources in the FBI told him federal agents wanted to close down their investigation when they learned that nothing illegal had happened, but they were told to keep digging. The FBI investigators, Brandon Webb says, never wanted to out David Petraeus’ affair.
Jack Murphy said he learned of the “palace coup” from current and former members of the CIA.
The authors claim that David Petraeus was already on his way out when the scandal broke. They learned weeks before that he was interviewing for teaching jobs at Princeton University.
David Petraeus was furious, they say, because he was kept in the dark about the raids being conducted without his knowledge by the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) across Libya and North Africa.
Brandon Webb and Jack Murphy claim that the September 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate and a CIA outpost in Benghazi proved to David Petraeus that he was an outsider in the Obama administration and that he would remain marginalized as long as he was at the CIA.
The central premise of Benghazi: The Definitive Report is that the attacks were precipitated by secret raids
JSOC had performed in Libya. An attack on the Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia days before September 11 may have been the final straw.
Heavily-armed militants with Ansar al-Sharia attacked the consulate on September 11 as retaliation, the book claims. Ambassador Chris Stevens and Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith died of smoke inhalation when insurgents set fire to the consulate.
After the raid, the militants launched a second attack against a CIA annex across town. It was there that CIA security contractors Ty Woods and Glen Doherty – both former U.S. Navy SEALs – were killed when their position took a direct hit from an enemy mortar.
Brandon Webb and Jack Murphy said they wrote the book to reveal “the truth” behind the attack. They say news accounts of the incident have often been inaccurate because journalists have not had inside access to the people who were on the ground at the time.
The authors have been frustrated, they say, by politicians who have attempted to twist the facts of the case to suit their own ends. Conservatives sought to use the attack as an election issue and place the blame on Barack Obama.
Democrats and the Obama administration have worked to deflect responsibility and downplay the warning signs that were present before the consulate was raided.
Brandon Webb and Jack Murphy claim that the “inside” story of the attack – as told by their connections in the CIA and special operations units of the military – show that Brennan never warned the CIA or Chris Stevens about ongoing U.S. military operations in the country.
State Department and the intelligence community known about what was happening, they would have stepped up security in Benghazi and could have prevented the tragedy.
Both authors are well-positioned to access classified insider information about the attack. They run SOFREP.com, a news site written and edited by current and former members of the special operations community.
Brandon Webb served as a Navy SEAL for ten years and deployed overseas five times. He left the Navy in 2006. Jack Murphy served eight years in the U.S. Army, including as an Army Ranger and a Special Forces Green Beret. He deployed overseas three times before retiring in 2010. He is currently studying political science at Columbia University.
Tiny lines visible on Hillary Clinton’s glasses when she appeared before the Senate this week to give evidence on Benghazi attack indicate she may still be experiencing the after-effects following the blood clot she suffered last month.
It is thought Hillary Clinton, 65, was wearing a Fresnel prism on her spectacles – a stick-on panel often used to treat double vision.
The faint vertical lines are visible on the left lens of Hillary Clinton’s glasses in photographs taken during her testimony about the terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012, in which four Americans were killed.
Eye experts told the New York Daily News it is likely Hillary Clinton has had an adhesive Fresnel prism placed on her glasses.
“If she’s wearing a Fresnel prism, then she has double vision without it,” said Dr. Mark Fromer, medical director at Fromer Eye Centers.
He said the adhesive panel, which also aids muscle weakness, “helps bring images into focus”.
Hillary Clinton’s spokesperson confirmed she was wearing glasses as a result of the fall and concussion she experienced last month, but did not elaborate further.
The Secretary of State returned to work earlier this month following a month long absence, after initially falling ill with a stomach virus.
While at home recuperating from the bug, which forced her to cancel a planned visit to North Africa and the Middle East, Hillary Clinton suffered concussion after fainting and falling.
Doctors later discovered a blood clot between her skull and her brain during a follow-up exam on December 30, and she was admitted to New York-Presbyterian for treatment with blood thinners.
Hillary Clinton attended back-to-back hearings on the Benghazi attack before the Senate and the House on Wednesday.
It appears that Hillary Clinton was wearing a Fresnel prism on her spectacles during Benghazi attack hearing indicating she may still be experiencing the after-effects following the blood clot
What are Fresnel prisms?
Fresnel prisms are wafer-thin, transparent sheets of adhesive plastic.
One side is fixed to the lens of the wearer’s glasses, while the other has special grooves that alter the way light enters the eye.
The prisms, the strength of which can be adjusted depending on the patient’s needs, are often used to treat double vision.
The stick-on panels may be worn for several months. If they prove particularly successful, patients can have glasses made with built-in prisms.
Double vision can occur in one or both eyes. It can be caused by an irregularly shaped cornea or abnormalities of the cornea, dry eye, or abnormalities of the lens or retina.
Hillary Clinton is giving evidence to Congress over the deadly attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last year.
“I take responsibility,” the Secretary of State told the foreign relations committee of the Senate, referring to security failures that led to the attack.
She had been due to testify late last year but fell ill.
Christopher Stevens, the US ambassador to Libya, and three other officials were killed in the attack on September 11, 2012.
The ambassador died of smoke inhalation when he was trapped in the burning consulate building, after armed men had stormed the compound.
The assault triggered a major political row over who knew what and when. As a result, an independent panel – the Accountability Review Board – was charged with investigating the incident.
Hillary Clinton told the Senate committee she never saw the paperwork asking for more security at the consulate in Benghazi.
“The specific security requests pertaining to Benghazi… were handled by the security professionals in the department. I didn’t see those requests, they didn’t come to me, I didn’t approve them, I didn’t deny them,” Hillary Clinton said.
In her opening remarks, Hillary Clinton pointed to the rise of Islamist militancy across North Africa and said: “Benghazi did not happen in a vacuum.”
Hillary Clinton is giving evidence to Congress over the deadly attack on the US consulate in Benghazi
The secretary of state’s appearance comes less than a week after a siege by Islamist militants at a gas facility in Algeria in which three Americans died.
“Instability in Mali has created an expanding safe haven for terrorists who look to extend their influence and plot further attacks of the kind we saw just last week in Algeria,” Hillary Clinton also said.
Responding to questions, she said: “We have to recognize this is a global movement – we can kill leaders but until we help establish strong democratic institutions… we’re going to be faced with this level of instability.”
Democrats hold the majority in the Senate, where Hillary Clinton is surrounded by former colleagues and the tone is likely to be respectful.
Hillary Clinton’s voice shook with emotion as she described the moment she and President Barack Obama welcomed home the caskets of those killed in the Benghazi attacks, saying this was “personal”.
In the House, however, Hillary Clinton is expected to face much more heat.
The panel review did not blame her directly for any of the failures, but members of Congress will still want to know why she was not personally aware of requests for more security in a high-risk posting like Libya.
On Tuesday, Republican Senator John McCain said he wanted to press Hillary Clinton on where she was on the night of the attack, and what warnings there had been about deteriorating security.
“It’s been a cover-up from the beginning,” he told reporters.
Hillary Clinton is also facing questions about how the administration of President Barack Obama handled the fallout.
Three State Department employees have been fired over the Benghazi attack, and recommendations the panel made in December are already being implemented.
Hillary Clinton, who is stepping down from her post in two weeks, has spent a month recuperating from a series of ailments in December.
She was treated in hospital for a blood clot near her brain, weeks after fainting and suffering a concussion in the subsequent fall.
Barack Obama appointed Hillary Clinton at the start of his first term in 2009. She is considered a strong candidate for the Democratic nomination for president should she run in 2016.
Outrage in Congress over the Benghazi incident and its aftermath has already led US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, to withdraw from the race to succeed Hillary Clinton.
Last November, Susan Rice admitted releasing incorrect information after the Benghazi attack. She said there had been no attempt to mislead the public, but Republicans were unconvinced.
Barack Obama has since nominated Democratic Senator John Kerry – who is expected to be swiftly confirmed – as Hillary Clinton’s replacement.
Hillary Clinton is due to testify for 90 minutes before the committees.
The White House did not heavily alter talking points about the attacks on US diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, an official said on Saturday.
“If there were adjustments made to them within the intelligence community, that’s common, and that’s something they would have done themselves,” Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser, told reporters.
“The only edit … made by the White House was the factual edit as to how to refer to the facility.”
After a closed-door hearing with former CIA Director David Petraeus on Friday, Republican Representative Peter King said that unclassified talking points prepared by the CIA for use by lawmakers about the September 11 attack originally pointed specifically to al Qaeda involvement. Peter King said they were edited before being cleared for use.
Ben Rhodes said the White House, and also the State Department, changed references to a “conflict” at diplomatic facilities, “because the conflict in Benghazi was not formally a conflict. Other than that we worked off the points that were provided by the intelligence community, so I can’t speak to any other edits that may have been made”.
After David Petraeus hearing on Friday, it emerged that unclassified talking points prepared by the CIA for use by lawmakers about Benghazi attack originally pointed specifically to al Qaeda involvement
The assault on the US mission and nearby CIA annex in Benghazi has turned into a flash point between Democratic President Barack Obama and Republicans.
Republicans accuse the White House and in particular the US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, of misleading the public just after the attack by suggesting the assault was a spontaneous act instead of a planned terrorist operation. The Obama administration denies misleading anyone and says it discussed information about the Benghazi tragedy as it came in.
“What I can say is those points, and what Susan said, indicated that we believed extremists were involved in this attack,” Ben Rhodes said.
David Petraeus has told US Congress that the CIA believed almost immediately that al-Qaeda-linked terrorists were behind the September 11th attacks in Benghazi, according to a leading Republican congressman.
Representative Peter King of New York, a member of the House Intelligence Committee that David Petraeus briefed, said that the former general left a “different impression” today than he had when he testified on Capitol Hill three days after the attack.
Now, Peter King said, David Petraeus insisted that the “original talking points prepared by the CIA were different than the final ones put out” and used by Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, on Sunday talk shows to say – incorrectly – that the attack was sparked by anger over an anti-Islam video made in California.
“The original talking points were much more specific about al-Qaeda involvement and yet the final ones just said <<indications of extremists>> even though it was clearly evident to the CIA that there was al-Qaeda involvement,” Peter King said.
The former CIA director was giving classified testimony and was accompanied by a CIA analyst. Peter King said David Petraeus did not speak under oath.
David Petraeus arrived early Friday for closed hearings on Capitol Hill as lawmakers seek details from the retired general about the September 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed the U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
Peter King said that there was only brief mention by David Petraeus of his affair with biographer Paula Broadwell, which triggered his shock resignation last Friday.
“He was asked at the start did that have any impact on his testimony, he said no…10 seconds into it, that was off to the side.”
David Petraeus has told US Congress that the CIA believed almost immediately that al-Qaeda-linked terrorists were behind the September 11th attacks in Benghazi
The New York congressman said that David Petraeus had explained that the talking points ultimately used by Susan Rice had been altered by inputs by a number of other government agencies after the CIA had made its assessment.
“He said that it goes though a long process, an interagency process and when they came back it was taken out.”
The House Intelligence Committee, which was hearing from David Petraeus before he briefed the Senate Intelligence Committee, met in a secure room several floors below the main area of the Capitol Visitors Centre, where tourists gather when they are visiting Congress.
Republicans and some Democrats have demanded an explanation of why the Obama administration initially described the attack at Benghazi as a protest gone awry, leading to the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, diplomat Sean Smith and CIA contractors and former Navy SEALS Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.
Five days after attack, the administration sent Susan Rice onto the Sunday news shows to describe what precipitated the assault. She relied on initial intelligence talking points that subsequently proved incorrect.
Deputy CIA Director Mike Morell told the House committee on Thursday that Susan Rice was provided with an unclassified version of events at the American mission, according to Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, a committee member.
The assessment concluded that a spontaneous protest over anti-Islam video, The Innocence of Muslims, had evolved into an attack on the American consulate, a description that Rice presented in the television interviews.
David Petraeus hoped that by testifying he would put an end to some of the wilder rumors following his resignation over reveal of his affair with Paula Broadwell.
“He did not like the conspiracies going around that somehow he had something to hide on Benghazi,” said retired Colonel Peter Mansoor, who served as David Petraeus’ executive officer in Iraq.
“I think his offer to testify crossed with the Congress’ request to him to testify. But anyway he looks forward to that.”
President Barack Obama faced allegations of a major political cover-up last night over the resignation of CIA Director General David Petraeus, who had an affair with married Paula Broadwell.
The US Congress is expected to investigate claims that the affair was hushed up to protect Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.
It is believed the affair was discovered by the FBI months ago, but not made public until after the election.
The FBI began an investigation in February after discovering the 60-year-old’s computer had been accessed by someone else – believed to be his 40-year-old mistress Paula Broadwell – prompting fears of a major security breach.
This led to the discovery of hundreds of explicit emails including one referring to “sex under a desk”.
A source said last night: “The real question is, what did the President know, and when?”
Frances Townsend, a former senior US government security official and now a member of the CIA Advisory Committee, said: “Whenever the FBI opens an investigation of a senior official they have to make notification of that, especially if there is an intelligence concern. It is hard to believe the White House did not know about this prior to the election.”
White House officials insist Barack Obama did not know of the affair until last Wednesday, the day after the election. He accepted David Petraeus’ resignation on Thursday, and the announcement was made on Friday.
Barack Obama faced allegations of a major political cover-up over the resignation of David Petraeus, who had an affair with Paula Broadwell
Some have alleged the scandal is a smokescreen to stop David Petraeus testifying before a Senate committee this week into the deaths of the US ambassador and three staff members in September in Benghazi, Libya. The White House has been accused of ignoring repeated warnings of an Al Qaeda terrorist attack on the embassy.
A senior Congressional staffer said last night: “What would he have told us? The resignation is incredibly convenient for the administration. Would he have revealed the CIA knew the Benghazi compound was under threat and Washington did nothing to secure it?”
Members of the House Intelligence Committee may still vote to subpoena David Petraeus and force him to testify.
The source added: “This could be another Watergate situation where it is not the event that brings down the president but the cover-up.”
Paula Broadwell began an affair with David Petraeus, married to his wife Holly for 37 years, when she was with him in Afghanistan in 2010 doing research for her biography, All In: The Education Of General David Petraeus.
She says they “bonded” over push-ups and five-mile runs in the deserts of Afghanistan.
“That was the foundation of our relationship. He goes all in to what he does,” Paula Broadwell said.
David Petraeus led American forces in Afghanistan and Iraq before taking charge of the CIA.
The contoversial resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus on Friday threatens to undermine next week’s hearings into the deadly attack at the U.S. Consulate in Libya, at which he was scheduled to testify.
David Petraeus resigned as head of the CIA following revelations he had engaged in an extramarital affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell and acknowledging that he “showed extremely poor judgment”.
The highly-decorated general, 60, had recently traveled to Libya and the Middle East, and was to testify about the Benghazi attack next week behind closed doors to the House and Senate intelligence committees.
Fears have also emerged as his resignation comes at an extremely sensitive time. The administration and the CIA have struggled to defend security and intelligence lapses before the attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three others.
It was an issue during the presidential campaign that ended with Barack Obama’s re-election Tuesday.
David Petraeus had 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 U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi, Libya.
U.S. officials insisted that the CIA’s handling of the Benghazi incident had nothing to do with David Petraeus’ decision to resign.
The CIA has come under intense scrutiny for providing the White House and other administration officials with talking points that led them to say the Benghazi attack was a result of a film protest, not a militant terror attack.
It has become clear that the CIA was aware the attack was distinct from the film protests roiling across other parts of the Muslim world.
Michael Morell rather than David Petraeus now is expected to testify at closed congressional briefings next week on the September 11 attacks on the consulate in Benghazi.
According to the New York Times, David Petraeus told the White House of the affair, only one day after Barack Obama secured a second term in the White House.
The president did not immediately accept it, aides told the Times, and only reluctantly agreed to it on Friday.
David Petraeus resigned as head of the CIA following revelations he had engaged in an extramarital affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell
News Corps’ Rupert Murdoch was one of masses who took to Twitter to voice his opinion. The 81-year-old Aussie wrote: “Petraeus resignation. Timing, everything suspicious. There has to be more to this story.”
Chiming in with her own conspiracy theory, conservative talk show radio host Laura Ingraham wrote: “CIA Chief Petraus resignation…something about this stinks to high heaven.”
She added: “COINCIDENCE?! Petraeus is set to testify NEXT week at a closed door session on Capitol Hill about Benghazi. Did BHO push him out? This stinks!”
But some, like Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington, reacted to the news in a very forgiving fashion.
“Turns out Petraeus is (sic) human being. And of course we definitely can’t have human beings in government!” she wrote.
For the director of the CIA, being engaged in an extramarital affair is considered a serious breach of security and a counterintelligence threat.
If a foreign government had learned of the affair, the reasoning goes, David Petraeus or the person with whom he was involved could have been blackmailed or otherwise compromised. Military justice considers conduct such as an extramarital affair to be possible grounds for court martial.
Failure to resign also could create the perception for the rank-and-file that such behavior is acceptable.
At FBI headquarters, spokesman Paul Bresson declined to comment on the information that the affair had been discovered in the course of an investigation by the bureau.
In a statement from the president, Barack Obama said: “I am completely confident that the CIA will continue to thrive and carry out its essential mission.”
But there is no indication that he 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 U.S. spy.
Barack Obama, who accepted David Petraeus’ resignation in a phone call with him Friday afternoon, said that Michael Morell, the agency’s long-time deputy director, would serve as acting CIA chief.
Michael Morell, who is well respected at both the White House and on Capitol Hill, had previously served as acting director following the departure of former CIA chief Leon Panetta.
He is a leading candidate to be David Petraeus’ permanent successor, sources said.
Other possible candidates being discussed on Capitol Hill include John Brennan, Barack Obama’s chief counter-terrorism adviser; Obama national security adviser Thomas Donilon; and former congresswoman Jane Harman, who chaired the House intelligence committee.
David Petraeus’ resignation also adds a new vacancy on Barack Obama’s national security team. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said she will leave after Barack Obama’s first term, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is widely expected to leave as well.
David Petraeus’ wife, Holly, has been an advocate for U.S. veterans and head of the Office of Servicemember Affairs at the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Last month, David and Holly Petraeus appeared together at a reception at the Canadian Embassy in Washington to celebrate the premiere of the Ben Affleck film Argo, which chronicles a successful operation in which the CIA and Canadian diplomats smuggled a group of U.S. officials out of Tehran during the 1979-80 U.S. Embassy hostage crisis.
In a letter to the CIA workforce, David Petraeus said that he met with Barack Obama at the White House on Thursday and asked “to be allowed, for personal reasons, to resign from my position”.
“After being married for 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair,” David Petraeus wrote.
“Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours.”
Barack Obama, who was re-elected to a second term on Tuesday, said in a statement that he accepted David Petraeus’ resignation, praising him for his work at the CIA and for leading U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The sudden and dramatic turn of events appeared to end the public career of a widely admired man who played a key role in the Iraq war, led the U.S. Central Command and commanded U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.
David Petraeus’ name had circulated speculatively as a possible Republican presidential nominee before Barack Obama tapped him as CIA chief. Before taking the CIA post, he retired as an Army general after nearly four decades of military service.
Cindy Lee Garcia, a US actress who appeared in amateur anti-Islam video Innocence of Muslims that sparked protests across the Muslim world, is suing the film’s suspected director.
Cindy Lee Garcia accused Nakoula Basseley Nakoula of duping her into a “hateful” film that she was led to believe was a desert adventure movie.
She is also asking a judge to order YouTube to remove the film.
A clip dubbed into Arabic provoked widespread anger for its mocking portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad.
Innocence of Muslims, which was made in the United States, has sparked protests across the Middle East, North Africa and as far away as Sri Lanka, with some demonstrations turning into destructive and violent riots.
Cindy Lee Garcia accused Nakoula Basseley Nakoula of duping her into Innocence of Muslims that she was led to believe was a desert adventure movie
Four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stephens, were killed during an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
According to Cindy Lee Garcia, the script she received had made no mention of the Prophet Muhammad or made references to religion.
She claims she has received death threats since the video was posted to YouTube, and says her association with the film has harmed her reputation.
In a court filing lodged with Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday, Cindy Lee Garcia alleged fraud, slander and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Lawyers for Cindy Lee Garcia contend that changes in dialogue during post-production casts her in a false light.
“[Garcia] had a legally protected interest in her privacy and the right to be free from having hateful words put in her mouth or being depicted as a bigot,” the lawsuit says.
“There was no mention of <<Mohammed>> during filming or on set. There were no references made to religion nor was there any sexual content of which Ms Garcia was aware,” it adds.
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula denies being “Sam Bacile”, a pseudonym used by the person who posted the video online.
He has gone into hiding after telling US media he was the manager of a company that helped produce the film, but US officials believe him to be the director.
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was convicted of fraud in 2010 and ordered to pay more than $790,000 in restitution. He was released in June 2011 with the provision that he did not access the internet or use any aliases without permission.
Authorities questioned him last week over whether he had violated any of those conditions.
YouTube has so far refused Cindy Lee Garcia’s requests to remove the film, according to the lawsuit, although it has blocked it in Saudi Arabia, Libya and Egypt.
“This lawsuit is not an attack on the First Amendment nor on the right of Americans to say what they think, but does request that the offending content be removed from the Internet,” the complaint states.
Google, which owns YouTube, has blocked the film in Saudi Arabia, Libya and Egypt.
A spokesman for YouTube said they were reviewing the complaint and would be in court on Thursday.