Senate Intelligence Chairwoman calls Petraeus' resignation 'tragic'
November 9th, 2012
05:13 PM ET
7 years ago

Senate Intelligence Chairwoman calls Petraeus' resignation 'tragic'

Washington (CNN) - Senator Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told CNN CIA Director David Petraeus' resignation is "tragic for this human being" and for the country. "He loved the job, had a big design for the job," she said.

Feinstein also made the point that "people are going to say he's a scapegoat for Benghazi and that's absolutely false," referring to the controversy over the timeline of the terror attack at the U.S. mission in Libya that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. "I know what the personal story is. It is not a cover up."

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While she refused to elaborate on the details surrounding Petraeus' sudden departure, she told CNN "I deeply believe, based on what I know, that it was an egregious personal mistake."

In a press release, Feinstein also added that "I wish President Obama had not accepted his resignation, but I understand and respect the decision." In the interview with CNN, she declined to speculate about any possible replacement candidates.

What puzzles Feinstein, and others, is the sudden timing of the resignation. Hearings on Capitol Hill regarding Benghazi are still scheduled for next week, and Acting CIA Director Michael Morell will testify in his place. "What I don't understand is the immediate departure," she said. "That's the part I don't get."

Feinstein added she still intends to hold the hearing starting next Thursday to figure out "who did what and when – and what was missing?"

On a more personal level regarding Petraeus, who is a retired four star general, Feinstein theorized that "the transition to civilian life, whether you are a private or a four-star is really hard. Everything changes when you take off the medals." She added "You're not accustomed to being questioned constantly, people are giving you a lot of flak."

That was the case with Petraeus and the Benghazi controversy to be sure – although Petraeus himself worked very hard to maintain a low-key profile. That ended Friday.

Filed under: 2012 • David Petraeus • Dianne Feinstein
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Tommy G

    Feinstein also made the point that "people are going to say he's a scapegoat for Benghazi and that's absolutely false," referring to the controversy over the timeline of the terror attack at the U.S. mission in Libya that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. "I know what the personal story is. It is not a cover up."

    Right.... And we were all born yesterday. I hope he gets to testify under oath in front of Congress before the Clinton's arrange the same ending that Vince Foster got. If he testifies, Hillary's career is OVER.

    November 9, 2012 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  2. Andrew Ferguson

    Ms. Townsend's comments dismissive of the importance of General Patraeus's affair display an astonishing and irresponsible understanding of this matter. That a person of the General's status could have been compromised by anyone is indeed deeply serious. I'm glad he had the wisdom to resign. What if, for example, Israel compromised him? Could he be led to unwisely support a strike against Iran? Ms. Townsend, you are profoundly naive.

    November 9, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  3. CBP

    Tommy G. I cannot believe that you made these statements. The General deserves our support and he would be the first one to ask that we respect his decisions. He has been under tremendous pressure for the last eight years. He has done so much for this country.

    These conspiracy stories have a life of their own. The accusation against the Clintons is way out of bounds. Can we just stick to the facts. Why does CNN allow these statements?

    November 9, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  4. Rick McDaniel

    I call it a convenient way to avoid testifying to Congress, on the Benghazi incident.

    November 9, 2012 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  5. Rasheed

    I voted for Senator Dianne Feinstein. She doesn't have to justify or give out information.
    Somethings are better kept away from general public.

    November 9, 2012 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  6. anoel2005

    Gen.Petraeus has to lie about an affair in order to save his butt from being dragged thru the Benghazi "trial" which is coming down the pike.

    He would either have to take the blame on himself or lie to save the President 's hide.

    November 9, 2012 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  7. GI Joe

    Most people in the military for a long time DO have affairs. Look at Gen Eisenhower back in the 40s and 50s – he had a world-known affair and then went on to become President.

    By the way, they both were republicans........................just saying.......

    November 9, 2012 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  8. Ancient Texan

    Sad that the general won't testify, he's about the only player in the administration that I would trust to tell the truth.

    November 9, 2012 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  9. amf140

    A smell something rotten here. I just bet that the General could not take the Standown order and let Americans die and got himself fired just like the Army General and the Navy Admiral that were in charge of the forces in the area. As a good military man, you obey those orders but your principles far out weigh your career and, if you can't live with yourself after executing those orders, you resign. Calling it an extra-marital affair just shows that this honorable military man is still loyal to the C in C. There is more leadership in this guy's little finger than in the entire Administration. There are a lot of busses waiting for people to get thrown under on this one.

    November 9, 2012 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  10. DENNA

    General Petreaus made the same mistake many men make: He was thinking with the wrong part of his body. What the heck is wrong with men, anyway? Of course, let the Benghazi conspiracy theories begin. Whatever gets you through the night I guess.

    November 9, 2012 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  11. Billy

    Santorum couldn't even get the GOP nomination...He certainly could not have done better....He tries to push his beliefs on everyone, and the President would have won by a landslide.

    November 9, 2012 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  12. Michael S

    Most important question: When and where did Gen Patraeus have his affair? Timing and location is everything. If he was with her in Afghanistan as the Commander of US Forces then how did the CIA, White House, and Congress not know?? This man was the Head of the CIA!!!

    November 9, 2012 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  13. ted

    yet another guy who has built up a great reputation and legacy to have it all go down the toilet because he was not strong enough to uphold the vows he made to his wife on the altar. Just plain stupid.

    November 9, 2012 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  14. fillmein

    Again, holding this man...these people...on a pedestal is ridiculous. This man have been lauded as a genius. Iraq? Afghanistan? CIA? WHAT? Please point me to his "accomplishments"? Or are things just relative, and the credible level in DC is THAT bad. This is what we get when the PR in DC needs heroes. His ilk. I see a trail of dead bodies and little accomplishment. What do you actually see, all you who believe this guy is a genius?

    November 9, 2012 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  15. Verbert

    A better general would have been prepared for something like this and defended his marriage instead of getting suckered in by a pretty face.

    What if it had been a nuclear attack or an intelligence-gathering operation by a hostile organization?
    We need generals with good self-control, which Patraeus clearly does not have.

    I would have accepted his resignation, too.

    November 10, 2012 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  16. Karina

    When you get elected to Public Office you become a Public Servant and the taxpayer is the employer.
    Lets have more integrity and transparency and less of all those lies and cover ups.
    If Petraeus had an affair , that is between his wife and him , however if his sudden departure has anything to do with his duties or recent events then he will have to give some answers.

    November 10, 2012 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  17. Luca

    Well, accepting his resignation makes sense only if your are positive that somebody can be as good as him in doing his job.
    If Gen. Petraeus knew what could not be told and what could be told his mistress, I don't see any particular issue in this affair. Also: even the CIA's chief can be spied. Mr. President: let's take somebody else coming from the Military Elite in Afghanistan !

    November 10, 2012 02:10 am at 2:10 am |
  18. Bangash

    Americans are always crying when pay back for mistakes. They are always reaping what they sow. They created Alqaida and supported OSAMA against USSR in Afghanistan but now paying for that. Same they did in Libya and supported Alqaida against Qadafi in Libya and now they paid for that. It is simple that as you sow so shall you reap. To avoid such unfortunate incident America has to change its external policies and show the world that they are friends not enemies which is possible only if excluded militarism in dealing with the world.

    November 10, 2012 02:45 am at 2:45 am |
  19. Disgusted with the lies

    People who cheat on their spouses are LIARS. What else has Petraeus lied to us about?

    November 10, 2012 03:25 am at 3:25 am |
  20. sgb

    Feinstein is a tragedy all by herself. She is trying to take our guns but has a Concealed Carry License herself.

    November 10, 2012 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  21. ronb

    The general did the only honorable thing he could do. After making the mistake, he realized that his integrity had been him. I respect him for stepping down instead of trying to hide the affair and the obvious impact to his trustworthiness and security clearance. Lower level personnel lose their clearance over stuff like this every day because they can be compromised. Sorry it happened to General Petraeus, but it happened. I'd probably still vote for him now that the secret's out in the open. He (and his wife of 37 yrs) will have to make some tough decisions. God 's speed...general.

    November 10, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |