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General David Petraeus has resigned as CIA director after the FBI discovered that he had had an extramarital affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell. The timing of Petraeus's resignation has fueled talk of a conspiracy among conservative critics of the Obama administration, as it comes after the presidential election and before Petraeus was scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on the administration's handling of the terrorist attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
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Broadwell, 40, spent months with Petraeus, 60, in Afghanistan doing research for the biography "All In: The Education of General David Petraeus," which she co-wrote with Vernon Loeb, a Washington Post editor. Petraeus, a highly decorated four-star general and commander of America's surges in Iraq and Afghanistan, first met Broadwell in 2006 when she was a graduate student at Harvard, where Petraeus gave a talk on counterinsurgency. She introduced herself after the talk with Petraeus's help began writing a dissertation on Petraeus's leadership style.
Two years later Petraeus was appointed by Obama as commander of US forces in Afghanistan and Broadwell turned her dissertation into a book deal. Broadwell, who is also married, spent time "embedded" with Petraeus in Afghanistan, where the two reportedly bonded over their shared backgrounds as West Point graduates and obsession with physical fitness, especially running.
The affair reportedly started after Petraeus became head of the CIA in 2011 and lasted for four months, though the two continued to exchange intimate emails afterwards. The FBI uncovered the affair after Broadwell began sending jealous emails to a woman she felt was a rival for Petraeus's affections. The FBI launched an investigation after the woman complained to a friend who was an FBI agent. During the investigation the FBI uncovered sexually explicit correspondences between Petraeus and Broadwell and became concerned about a possible security breach of Petraeus's personal Gmail account.
Conservatives are suspicious about the timing of Petraeus's resignation. Petraeus was made aware of the FBI investigation six weeks ago but senior members of Congress were only notified hours before he resigned. Petraeus had been scheduled to testify before Congress about possible intelligence and security lapses during the September attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, when Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed. Petraeus's resignation, they say, seems timed to avoid embarrassing Obama before the election and prevent Petraeus from giving potentially damaging testimony about the Obama administration's handling of the Benghazi terror attack.