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Petraeus scandal: Your questions answered

  • These are the top five questions being asked by HLN viewers
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David Petraeus resigned as CIA director after he admitted to having an extramarital affair.

David Petraeus breaks his silence to HLN’s Kyra Philips. Read her full description of their conversations right here.

Editor's note: We combed through your calls, emails and posts on our social media accounts to find the five most-asked questions about David Petraeus. Then we asked Suzanne Kelly, Intelligence Correspondent for CNN, to help make sense of the scandal. 

Q: Why did David Petraeus step down as CIA director when former President Clinton, who was impeached, didn’t have to? 
Petraeus didn’t have to step down when he did, either, but according to a U.S. intelligence official, once the FBI told Petraeus’ boss about the investigation, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper suggested the CIA director step down.
Sources tell us that Petraeus offered his resignation to the president two days later, but that the president didn’t accept it right away, and finally did so after taking a day to think about it. Ultimately, it was Petraeus’ decision to resign.
Q: Are 30,000 emails really being reviewed currently? 
There are tens of thousands of documents that in some way link Gen. John Allen to socialite Jill Kelley, and they are currently being looked at by the Pentagon’s inspector general to determine if they were appropriate in nature.
Q: What’s the connection between Petraeus and the attacks on Benghazi? 
Petraeus was head of the CIA during the time of the Benghazi attack and traveled to Libya in the weeks after the attack to speak directly with people about what happened that night. Members of the intelligence committees feel that he has information that should be shared with them. The information that Petraeus has, of course, would have been shared with the CIA’s deputy director at the time, Michael Morell. He has since been tapped by the president to serve as the acting director and he will be answering questions on Capitol Hill on Thursday about what happened that night, what the agency knew, and when it knew it.
Q: Why should this scandal matter to Americans? What is really at stake here? 
When the director of the Central Intelligence Agency steps down, Americans should obviously care. Of course, a scandal like this won’t impact the day-to-day life of most Americans the way the fiscal cliff could, but there are important questions that still need to be answered in terms of classified information, and how it was handled. That’s a big deal. 
Q: Why was Paula Broadwell harassing Jill Kelley? 
A U.S. official has described the emails to CNN as being harassing in nature, and that it seemed that the person sending those emails may have been jealous. The only people, of course, who really understand the tone and intention of the emails, are the person who sent them and the person who received them. Until we know what the emails actually said (and we may never know), it’s a tough call.
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