After CIA director Gen. David Petraeus’ bombshell resignation last week, in which he admitted to an extramarital affair, the web world is still abuzz as to the real reason why he quit. Why did the news break just days after the election? Did it have to do with U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens’ death in Benghazi? Just when did top officials know?
The jaw-dropping revelation that he had an affair with his biographer also has lawmakers up in arms that they weren’t told quickly enough and whether or not national security was threatened.
White House officials said they were told last Wednesday night that Petraeus was considering calling it quits because of the affair. Intelligence officials then alerted President Obama’s national security team. Obama was reportedly told on Thursday morning, two days after he secured a second term in office.
Here’s a roundup of four Petraeus resignation conspiracy theories. Be warned: Many are downright silly.
1. He is trying to get out of testifying about Benghazi
Conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham suggested Petraeus’ resignation is to get out of testifying about Benghazi. “COINCIDENCE?!” Ingraham tweeted. “Petraeus is set to testify NEXT week at a closed door session on Capitol Hill ab[ou]t Benghazi. Did [Obama] push him out? This stinks!”
2. Obama totally knew about the affair before the election, and lied about it
Conservative website Breitbart.com’s Ben Shapiro is convinced the Petraeus affair demonstrates the Obama administration “hid information vital to the American people” during the last days of the election.
The fact that the most respected soldier of his generation, Petraeus, would be leaving the administration during an Obama second term, had to be known by the White House prior to the election,” Shapiro continued. “And they said nothing in order to run out the clock… The Petraeus resignation is only the most recent evidence that the Obama administration will lie to the American people to achieve its ends.
The National Review’s Charles C.W. Cooke repeated the claim, saying “Politics is politics, but if this Petraeus stuff wasn’t known prior to the election, I”ll eat my shoes.”
3. Someone was trying to destroy Petraeus’ career
Wired’s Noah Shachtman tweeted, “I hate to say I told you so but…” On Nov. 1, Shachtman took to Twitter to say “Wow. Someone is trying to end Dave Petraeus’ career” and linked to a Wall Street Journal piece called “CIA Takes Heat for Role in Libya.” The story pointed out that Petraeus was missing from the ceremony honoring the four Americans killed in Benghazi.
4. He was being blackmailed.
Michael D. Shear of The New York Times notes that “Intelligence agencies are often concerned about the possibility that agents who engage in behavior [like having an affair] could be blackmailed for information.” Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren says “Why did he go public? Blackmail? The woman still ‘friendly’ or did she turn on him?”
Tune into Hardball at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. We’ll have NBC’s Pete Williams and MSNBC political analyst Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post to weigh in on Petraeus and his resignation.