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CIA Director Petraeus resigns in scandal, was Gmail his undoing?

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David Petraeus_Wikimedia
David Petraeus_Wikimedia

CIA Director David Petraeus announced his resignation today after just under a year and a half on the job. Petraeus, also a highly-decorated Army general who came to the public spotlight during the Iraq War in 2003, cited an extramarital affair as the reason for his resignation. As the day progressed, more details about the situation which led to Petraeus's resignation have emerged. As described in the Wall Street Journal, Petraeus's affair was discovered as a result of an FBI probe which began "this spring" into Petraeus's personal Gmail account. The FBI, for unknown reasons, believed that someone other than Petraeus was trying to access his Gmail account, and commenced an investigation. The monitoring of Petraeus's personal email led to the FBI's discovery of his affair. Petraeus, reports the WSJ, was unaware of the FBI's investigation until "recently."

This news raises several important questions which will likely be answered as the public gains more transparency into the events which transpired, but one of the most interesting is why the FBI believed someone other than Petraeus was accessing his email to begin with. The Wall Street Journal is also reporting that the FBI now believes that the person who was attempting to access the account was either his biographer Paula Broadwell, whom Petraeus was having an affair with, or "someone close to her." Also unanswered is why the FBI seemingly accessed the CIA director's personal email several months before alerting him to the possible breach of his account. Petraeus's CIA email account undoubtedly had many security measures which would make hacking less likely, but it does lead us to wonder if his Gmail account had two-step authentication enabled.

Petraeus's shocking resignation came just days before he was due to testify before the Senate intelligence committee regarding the CIA's involvement into the September 11, 2012 attack on the US Embassy in Benghazi, Libya.