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The Petraeus affair: Out of the loop

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Monday, Nov. 12, 2012, 8:51 p.m.

The most troubling thing about the David Petraeus affair isn't necessarily the most obvious.

The director of the Central Intelligence Agency, the celebrated four-star general of Iraq and Afghanistan fame, stunned the world with his Friday resignation. The decorated soldier and war tactician admitted to an affair with biographer Paula Broadwell.

The matter was exposed when Mrs. Broadwell, believing a Patraeus family friend was a competing paramour, allegedly fired off some anonymous, harassing emails. The friend, Jill Kelley, went to the FBI.

There's talk of Broadwell having access to Mr. Petraeus' personal email account. There are reports that classified information was found on Broadwell's computer. There's no talk, however, of any criminal behavior. Nonetheless, it was a compromising situation, real and potential, for the nation's top spy.

But now that all the dirty laundry has been aired, it's come to light that the FBI and Justice Department sat on the matter since late summer. The need for a “thought-through” investigation is cited.

And while we fully appreciate the need for that kind of review to sort out matters private and public, the House and Senate intelligence committees should have been informed immediately, given the initial national security implications. Justice's failure to do so should be thoroughly reviewed.

All that said, the Petraeus affair is an unfortunate ending to an otherwise stellar career.

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