US senator muses about Petraeus' life out of uniform

WASHINGTON Sun Nov 18, 2012 11:52pm IST

1 of 2. Then U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus pauses at an event in the East Room of the White House in this April 28, 2011 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing/Files

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee wondered on Sunday whether the transition from four-star general to civilian intelligence chief may have thrown ex-CIA Director David Petraeus off his game and into an adulterous affair.

"You see the medals he has, you see the stars. One day he takes all of that off. He's in a plain blue suit. ... There's no entourage. There's no driver. He gives an order at the CIA, there's discussion, there's flak ... and then he goes home to wash dishes," U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein said on NBC' "Meet the Press."

The interviewer cautioned Feinstein that she was close to giving the former top commander in Afghanistan a "men behaving badly" defense.

While Feinstein said the resignation of "one of our best and our brightest," was a "heartbreak," she agreed the decision was the right one. But she said current expectations of the military to make long and repeated tours of duty away from home need to be examined.

"Whether you are a private or a four-star, coming back into civilian society is difficult," she said, adding "this is not an excuse."

Petraeus surprised Washington with his resignation over an extra-marital affair days after President Barack Obama won a second term on November 6. Subsequent reports revealed the other woman was the retired general's biographer, Paula Broadwell.

Attorney General Eric Holder last week defended his decision to wait to inform the White House because he had felt secure there was no national security threat.

Law enforcement officials have said that they believe the investigation into the affair is likely to end without criminal charges. (Reporting by Jackie Frank; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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