The dramatic 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.
Petraeus resigned as head of the CIA following revelations he had engaged in an extramarital affair 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 Obama’s re-election Tuesday.
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 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.
Morell rather than Petraeus now is expected to testify at closed congressional briefings next week on the Sept. 11 attacks on the consulate in Benghazi.
According to the New York Times, Petraeus told the White House of the affair, only one day after 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.
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.