AN EXTRAMARITAL affair conducted by CIA director David Petraeus was exposed when the woman sparked an investigation by sending threatening e-mails to another woman close to him.
The highly decorated general – lauded as the greatest soldier-scholar of his generation – resigned on Friday after admitting cheating on his wife of 37 years.
Biographer Paula Broadwell, 40, a counter-terrorism expert, fitness champion and biographer two decades his junior is reported to have been his mistress.
In a remarkable twist, however, it has now emerged it was agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation who discovered that Petraeus, 60, was conducting an affair.
According to the Washington Post, the investigation was launched when an unidentified woman close to Petraeus contacted the FBI after she received threatening e-mails from a woman.
The FBI traced the e-mails to Broadwell, the author of his official biography, and in the process uncovered explicit messages between her and Petraeus.
The newspaper reported that agents had initially thought that the CIA director’s personal e-mail account might have been hacked, but concluded the pair were actually having an affair and that Broadwell perceived the other woman as a threat to that relationship.
The pair met at a conference in 2006 and later spent hours together as he was interviewed for his biography.
Both are married with children.
Petraeus met his wife Holly when he was a cadet at the West Point military academy. Her father was the superintendent at West Point at the time.
“Such behaviour is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organisation such as ours,” he said in the statement on Friday.
Petraeus led the 101st Airborne Division during the 2003 Iraq invasion and later commanded the military “surges” in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Operations based on his counter-insurgency strategy focused on protecting civilians as well as killing enemies, with the “surge” in Iraq under George W Bush widely credited with turning around a failed war.
The second, under Barack Obama, delivered a major blow to the Taleban.
Petraeus only took over the CIA post in September 2011 after what was regarded in Washington as a glittering military career.
Obama issued a statement on Friday praising Petraeus for what he called “extraordinary service” to the US for decades.
“By any measure, he was one of the outstanding general officers of his generation, helping our military adapt to new challenges, and leading our men and women in uniform through a remarkable period of service in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he helped our nation put those wars on a path to a responsible end,” the president’s statement said.