Petraeus faces Senate grilling over 'affair cover-up' at the CIA

Departure of director who had extra-marital relationship is questioned by politicians as agency battles fall-out over Libya debacle

Scandal hung over the Central Intelligence Agency last night, as details continued to emerge about the surprise departure of its director, the high-profile former US Army General, David Petraeus.

The resignation, after what he described on Friday as an "unacceptable" extra-marital affair, cast a shadow over the immediate future of the CIA. It faces ongoing questions over the handling of the murder of Christopher Stevens, US Ambassador to Libya.

General Petraeus was scheduled to testify about the killing of Stevens before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday. But his departure means lawmakers must instead cross-examine his former deputy, Michael Morell, who is now the CIA's acting director.

That has upset critics of the Obama administration, who believe the Ambassador died because of security failures. Many have already accused officials of attempting to cover-up details of the tragedy to prevent damage to the President's foreign policy credentials in the run-up to last week's presidential election.

Even Democrats on the Intelligence Committee are upset at the circumstances of Petraeus's resignation. Dianne Feinstein, its chair, told Fox News she was upset that her members were not forewarned.

"It was like a lightning bolt," she said. In a move aimed at reassuring conspiracy theorists who want to see the General cross-examined, Feinstein did not rule out issuing a subpoena forcing him to testify at a later date.

The CIA certainly has serious questions to answer about the attack on Stevens, which took place in Benghazi on 11 September.

Initial intelligence reports prompted Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN, to claim, wrongly, that it was the culmination of a spontaneous demonstration by Libyans angry at a Youtube video insulting the Prophet Mohammed.

Instead, it now appears to have been a long-planned terrorist assault. Critics also point out that many other Governments, including the British, had withdrawn diplomats from the city in the run-up to the tragedy, due to worries about security. Before Thursday's hearing Mr Morell and the FBI's deputy director, Sean Joyce, will meet Ms Feinstein's committee on to explain when details of the general's affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, were first shared with the White House.

Although the FBI had spent weeks investigating General Petraeus, it seems that the President's staff were kept in the dark about concerns over his private life until Wednesday. That has led to allegations that a lid was deliberately kept on the scandal until after the election.

Fresh nuggets of information about Petraeus's colourful private life are emerging. It seems the FBI first began investigating Ms Broadwell after receiving a complaint from one Jill Kelley, a 37-year-old social liaison to the military's Joint Special Operations Command, who lives in Florida.

Ms Kelley had apparently received several threatening emails from Broadwell, warning against pursuing a relationship with Petraeus. When agents looked closely at the email account involved, they discovered thousands of messages, many of them highly personal, that General Petraeus had sent Broadwell from a private address.

Broadwell also appeared to be in possession of classified information. In some circumstances, that might have prompted the FBI to immediately contact the White House, along with senior lawmakers.

However it seems that the information did not come from Petraeus and was not sufficiently important to justify a leak inquiry. Ms Broadwell has disappeared since being identified in the wake the resignation on Friday, and has not responded to emails or calls seeking comment. She was due to celebrate her 40th birthday in Washington at the weekend, but her husband Scott – with whom she has two young children – emailed guests cancelling the party. General Petraeus, 60, has also remained silent, and apparently spent the weekend attempting to reconcile with his wife of 37 years, Holly.

A friend told the Associated Press that rumours that he had had a second affair, with Ms Kelley, were untrue.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Voices
Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and David Cameron appeal to the audience during the Question Time special
voices
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Sport
football
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
News
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
news
News
Michelle Dockery plays Lady Mary in Downton Abbey
peopleBut who comes top of the wish list?
News
Miriam Gonzalez Durantez, right, with Lib Dem candidate Jane Dodds in Newtown, Powys, as part of her tour in support of the party’s female candidates
general electionNick Clegg's wife has impressed during the campaign
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living