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Petraeus resigns — is there a Benghazi connection?

General Petraeus has resigned as CIA Director, citing an extramarital affair. “Such behavior,” he says, “is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours.”

But the affair apparently took place some time ago. Petraeus says it happened “after 37 years marriage.” He has been married for more than 38 years. He became CIA director on June 30, a week before his 37th wedding anniversary.

Two weeks ago, Petraeus made it clear, in a public statement, that the Benghazi disaster was not on the CIA. Is his departure, three days after the election, related to that statement? Does it have to do with upcoming congressional hearings in which he would have testified as head of the CIA? Or does Petraeus simply not want to work any longer for a president who, quite possibly against Petraeus’ urging, declined to come to the aid of our beleaguered staff in Benghazi?

The kicker, of course, is Petraeus’ confession of the extramarital affair. Presumably, he could have resigned without the confession. So why did he offer it?

Two possible answers come to my mind. First, the confession could have been an attempt to preempt the theory that his resignation is Benghazigate related — it provides an alternative explanation. Second, the confession eliminates the opportunity for others (such as folks in the White House) to try to influence his future conduct, including potential statements and/or testimony about Benghazi (his departure from the CIA doesn’t preclude Congress from having him testify).

Petraeus’ statement that the affair took place some time ago tends to support the second answer more than the first. But these aren’t the only possible theories.

In any event, Benghazigate isn’t going away, regardless of whether Petraeus’ resignation turns out to represent a chapter or just a footnote.

JOHN adds: To make Paul’s theory #2 not just more explicit but more lurid, it is possible that the Obama administration has been blackmailing Petraeus to make him join in their deceptions about Benghazi. He may have announced the affair to eliminate any further possibility of blackmail, with the intention of telling the truth now that he has resigned from the administration. I think that is highly unlikely, but it seems to fit the facts that we know reasonably well.

PAUL adds: Yes. Petraeus might have admitted publicly to the extramarital affair because he knew its existence would be revealed in any case. However, it’s unlikely that anyone who wanted him to resign would have revealed this information once he, in fact, resigned. Perhaps someone wanted him to remain as head of the CIA, but in a compromised position, and Petraeus was unwilling to do so.

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