Petraeus Affair Triggers Political Controversy

The revelation about General David Petraeus’ extramarital affair has led to a slew of questions about who in Washington knew what and the timing of the 60-year-old's resignation.

The retired four-star general stepped down from his post as CIA director last Friday after admitting he had a relationship with his 40-year-old biographer Paula Broadwell.

It emerged over the weekend that the FBI only uncovered the affair after agents began investigating "harassing" emails allegedly sent by Ms Broadwell to Jill Kelley, a Petraeus family friend from the general's time at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida.

In a statement, the 37-year-old and her husband, Scott Kelley, said: "We and our family have been friends with Gen Petraeus and his family for over five years. We respect his and his family's privacy and want the same for us and our three children."

A former associate of Gen Petraeus told the Associated Press that there was no affair between the two and that the Kelleys were longtime friends of the general and his wife of 38 years, Holly.

The Petraeus news caught much of Washington by surprise and members of Congress are now demanding more details about the sequence of events.

They question when exactly the retired general popped up in the FBI inquiry, whether national security was compromised and why they were not told sooner.

"We received no advance notice. It was like a lightning bolt," Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, told Fox News.

"It just doesn't add up," Peter King, the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, told CNN.

"I have real questions about this. I think a timeline has to be looked at and analysed to see what happened."

The law requires that the Senate and House intelligence committees be kept "fully and currently informed" of what the CIA and FBI are doing.

Some have pointed to the fact that Gen Petraeus was days away from appearing before congressional committees on Thursday about the September 11 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi as evidence of some kind of conspiracy.

However, both Senator Feinstein and Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss, the senior Republican on the intelligence committee, suggested he could still be compelled to testify.

“I wouldn’t rule out Gen Petraeus being called to testify,” Mr Chambliss told ABC News.

Reports suggest the FBI probe started months ago and that the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was informed of the findings at 5pm on election day, and then called Gen Petraeus to urge him to resign.

President Obama was apparently told directly by the former CIA director on Thursday.

The congressional committees were not informed until Friday, only hours before the public found out.

Gen Petraeus decided to quit, even though he was breaking no laws by having an affair.

He had taken the CIA job last year after a long and illustrious military career, serving as US ground commander in both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Ms Broadwell, a 40-year-old graduate of the US Military Academy and an Army Reserve officer, is married with two young sons.

The pair first met when Gen Petraeus delivered a speech at Harvard University in 2006.