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 Critics also point out that many other Governments, including the British, had withdrawn diplomats from the city in the run-up to the tragedy, due to worries about security.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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
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

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world