The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Petraeus apologizes for conduct leading to CIA resignation over affair with biographer

  • Print

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - David Petraeus apologized Tuesday night to an audience of veterans for the conduct that led to his resignation as head of the CIA following the disclosure of an extramarital affair.

Dressed in a civilian's dark suit and red tie, Petraeus gave his first public speech since his resignation in November, to a group of about 600 people, including many uniformed and decorated veterans at the University of Southern California's annual Reserve Officers' Training Corps dinner. The hero of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars has remained largely in seclusion since resigning. His lawyer, Robert B. Barnett, has said that Petraeus has spent much of that time with his family.

"Needless to say, I join you keenly aware that I am regarded in a different light now than I was a year ago," Petraeus said. "I am also keenly aware that the reason for my recent journey was my own doing. So please allow me to begin my remarks this evening by reiterating how deeply I regret — and apologize for — the circumstances that led to my resignation from the CIA and caused such pain for my family, friends and supporters."

Petraeus received applause and a standing ovation before he began the evening's program by cutting a cake with a sword in military tradition, a task reserved for the highest ranking person in the room.

The retired four-star general's affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, was discovered during an FBI investigation into emails she sent to another woman she viewed as a rival for his attention.

"I know I can never fully assuage the pain that I inflicted on those closest to me and a number of others," said Petraeus, in a sombre tone to the audience that included his wife. He also mentioned their children.

At the time the affair was made public, Petraeus told his staff he was guilty of "extremely poor judgment."

"Such behaviour is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours," he said.

On Tuesday night, Petraeus noted the challenges of transitioning from military life to civilian life, a path he is currently navigating.

"There's often a view that because an individual was a great soldier, he or she will naturally do well in the civilian world," Petraeus said. "In reality, the transition from military service to civilian pursuits is often quite challenging."

As the military leader credited with reshaping the U.S. counterinsurgency strategy in both Iraq and Afghanistan, Petraeus had a friendly audience at the ROTC dinner.

At least one expert in crisis communications said that if his apology comes across as heartfelt and sincere, the public will indeed be seeing much more of him.

"America is a very forgiving nation," said Michael Levine who, among dozens of other celebrity clients, represented Michael Jackson during his first child molestation investigation.

"If he follows the path of humility, personal responsibility and contrition, I submit to you that he will be very successful in his ability to rehabilitate his image," he said.

Another longtime crisis communications expert, Howard Bragman, said Petraeus has handled the situation perfectly so far and he expects he'll continue to do so. He noted that unlike former President Bill Clinton, former U.S. Sen. John Edwards and other public figures caught in extramarital affairs, Petraeus didn't try to lie his way out of it, immediately took responsibility and moved on.

"I think the world is open to him now," said Bragman, vice chairman of the image-building company Reputation.com. "I think he can do whatever he wants. Realistically, he can even run for public office, although I don't think he'd want to because he can make more money privately."

Ahead of the speech, Petraeus drew lavish praise from USC's president, C. L. Max Nikias, who called him "arguably the most effective military commander since Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower."

"In our post 9-11 world, Gen. Petraeus' influence on our military is unmatched, and his contributions to the CIA are far-reaching," Nikias said. "

While at USC, Petraeus also planned to visit faculty and students at the Price School of Public Policy, which administers the ROTC program, and USC's School of Social Work, which trains social workers in how to best help veterans returning from war.

Petraeus was presented with a gift of silver cuff links by Nikias after his speech.

___

Associated Press writer Pauline Jelinek in Washington, D.C., contributed to this story.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Gary Lawless & Tim Campbell on the Jets' inconsistency - Jets This Week Oct. 16

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Goslings enjoy Fridays warm weather to soak up some sun and gobble some grass on Heckla Ave in Winnipeg Friday afternoon- See Bryksa’s 30 DAY goose challenge - May 18, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A gosling stares near water at Omands Creek Park-See Bryksa 30 day goose challenge- Day 25– June 21, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should Premier Greg Selinger resign?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google