WASHINGTON, D.C.-- David Petraeus, the retired four-star general, abruptly resigned Friday as director of the CIA, admitting to an extramarital affair.
The affair was discovered during an FBI investigation, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the matter. It was unclear what the FBI was investigating or when it became aware of the affair.
Petraeus' resignation shocked Washington's intelligence and political communities. It was a sudden end to the public career of the best-known general of the post 9/11 wars. His service was effusively praised Friday in statements from lawmakers of both parties.
According to his letter of resignation, Petraeus asked President Barack Obama on Thursday to allow him to resign, and on Friday the president accepted.
Petraeus, who turned 60 on Wednesday, announced his resignation to CIA employees in a written statement:
"Yesterday afternoon, I went to the White House and asked the President to be allowed, for personal reasons, to resign from my position as D/CIA. After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair. Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours. This afternoon, the President graciously accepted my resignation."
Petraeus has been married for 38 years to Holly Petraeus, whom he met when he was a cadet at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. She was the daughter of the academy superintendent. They have two children, and their son led an infantry platoon in Afghanistan.
Petraeus, who became CIA director in September 2011, was known as a shrewd thinker and hard-charging competitor.
President George W. Bush sent Petraeus to Iraq in February 2007, at the peak of sectarian violence, to turn things around as head of U.S. forces.
After Iraq, Bush made Petraeus commander of U.S. Central Command, overseeing all U.S. military operations in the greater Middle East, including Afghanistan and Pakistan.
When the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, was relieved of duty in June 2010 for comments in a magazine story, Obama asked Petraeus to take over in Kabul and the general quickly agreed.
Obama said in a statement that the retired general had provided "extraordinary service to the United States for decades" and had given a lifetime of service that "made our country safer and stronger." Obama called him "one of the outstanding general officers of his generation."
The president said that CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell would serve as acting director. Morell was the key CIA aide in the White House to President George W. Bush during the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Morell had served as deputy director since May 2010, after holding a number of top roles. He, rather than Petraeus, now is expected to testify at closed congressional briefings next week on the Sept. 11 attacks on the consulate in Benghazi.
At FBI headquarters, spokesman Paul Bresson declined to comment on the information that the affair had been discovered in the course of an investigation by the bureau