When asked about his reaction to the confession, Petraeus said he thought it showed "extremely poor judgment" for a person of Gen. Petraeus's stature and authority to engage in adultery after nearly four decades of marriage. He stressed that "such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours."
Director Petraeus briefly fielded questions in the afternoon, but had little more to offer.
"We'd like to give the public more details, but we just don't have them yet," Petraeus said. "There remain a lot of unanswered questions. Who is this Broadwell woman? How long had the affair been going on? Was Gen. Petraeus planning to divorce his wife? The long and short of it is I don't know yet. I'm still reviewing all the emails David Petraeus sent. There are an awful lot of them, and many are indiscriminate and obscene -- difficult to read. As soon as I find the answers to these and other questions, my office will release a full account."
Petraeus hopes to finish reviewing the emails next week and submit a comprehensive report of the indiscretion before Thanksgiving.
"What I can tell you now, based on the evidence at my disposal, is that Mr. Petraeus and Ms. Broadwell had met together secretly for quite some time, that the two may have been in love, that David Petraeus had referred to Ms. Broadwell as his 'soulmate,' and that David Petraeus may have a foot fetish," Petraeus explained. "There are a number of uncomfortable communications that would indicate some level of deviance and bizarre sexual predilections. I feel just horrible for Mr. Petraeus' wife, Holly, and regret having to expose her to this sort of humiliation."
No criminal charges are expected to be filed, but journalists at the press conference seemed incredulous, aggressively challenging the notion that the CIA had no prior knowledge of the affair.
"You've been in possession of those emails for a long time, and people around you have said they think David Petraeus was cheating on his wife; why are you just now investigating?" asked one AP reporter.
Petraeus made no excuses for Gen. Petraeus' "moral transgressions" and "inappropriate behavior," nor did he defend his agency's inaction. He did, however, call the situation "an illustration of the superior quality of America's covert operatives."
"I think if there's a silver lining here it's that the incident proves how hard it really is to detect American spies," Petraeus said. "I'm not saying the CIA wasn't negligent or intentionally ignorant or slow in discovering the director's affair, but I do think it shows how wily and subtle our agents can be."
"David Petraeus is the nation's top spy. How easy could it have been to catch him having an affair -- not to mention getting a confession out of him?" Petraeus added.
(c) 2012. See disclaimers.