WASHINGTON - David Petraeus,
the retired four-star general who led the US military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, has resigned as director of the CIA after admitting he had an extramarital affair.
The resignation shocked Washington's intelligence and political communities, representing a sudden end to the public career of the best-known general of the past decade, embodying the military to millions of Americans.
According to a statement he sent to CIA employees, Petraeus asked President Barack Obama on
Thursday to allow him to resign and on Friday the president accepted. Petraeus said he had shown "extremely poor judgment" in having the affair.
Petraeus with wife, Holly (Archive photo: Reuters)
"Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours," Petraeus said.
In a statement released by Obama, the president accepted the resignation but lauded the former general for his service.
"David Petraeus has provided extraordinary service to the United States for decades," the statement read. "By any measure, he was one of the outstanding General officers of his generation, helping our military adapt to new challenges, and leading our men and women in uniform through a remarkable period of service in Iraq and Afghanistan...As Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, he has continued to serve with characteristic intellectual rigor, dedication, and patriotism.
"(...) Going forward, my thoughts and prayers are with Dave and Holly Petraeus, who has done so much to help military families through her own work. I wish them the very best at this difficult time," Obama added.
Petraeus with Obama in 2010 (Archive photo: AFP)
The president said that the Central Intelligence Agency's Deputy Director Michael Morell would serve as acting director. "I am completely confident that the CIA will continue to thrive and carry out its essential mission," Obama said.
Petraeus has been married for 37 years to Holly Petraeus, whom he met when he was a cadet at the US Military Academy at West Point.
In his statement, he said to Obama, "Teddy Roosevelt once observed that life's greatest gift is the opportunity to work hard at work worth doing. I will always treasure my opportunity to have done that with you, and I will always regret the circumstances that brought that work with you to an end."
The director of national intelligence, James Clapper, said in a separate statement that Petraeus' departure represented "the loss of one of our nation's most respected public servants. From his long, illustrious Army career to his leadership at the helm of CIA, Dave has redefined what it means to serve and sacrifice for one's country."
AP and Reuters contributed to the report