The Slatest PM: The CIA Shakeup

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Nov. 9 2012 4:42 PM

The Slatest PM: The CIA Shakeup

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Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

SURPRISE: Most of us had been expecting some second-term reshuffling within the Obama administration, but no one saw this coming: CIA Director and all-around national-security powerhouse David Petraeus has resigned citing an extramarital affair.

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IN HIS OWN WORDS: "After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair," the now ex-director told CIA staff in a memo. "Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours. This afternoon, the President graciously accepted my resignation."

INSTANT ANALYSIS: The Washington Post: "The sudden departure created immediate turmoil in the Obama administration’s national security team just days after Obama won reelection. That team is expected to see a series of changes, but Petraeus had been expected by many to stay in his position." The New York Times: "By acknowleding an extramarital affair, Mr. Petraeus, 60, was confronting a sensitive issue for a spy chief. Intelligence agencies are often concerned about the possibility that agents who engage in such behavior could be blackmailed for information."

TOUGH CALL: Sources tell Slate's Fred Kaplan that President Obama, who had been getting along with Petraeus very well in the past couple years, agonized for 24 hours over the letter of resignation before accepting it.

PRAISE FOR PETRAUES: From Obama: "By any measure, through his lifetime of service, David Petraeus has made our country safer and stronger." National Intelligence Director James R. Clapper: "From his long, illustrious Army career to his leadership at the helm of C.I.A., Dave has redefined what it means to serve and sacrifice for one’s country."

BIG SHOES TO FILL: The president has appointed Mike Morrell, the current deputy director at the agency and a longtime CIA officer, to serve as interim director. Multiple sources tell NBC News and other outlets that Morrell is currently the odds-on favorite to replace Petraeus in a more permanent capacity down the line.

IT'S FRIDAY! You made it; we all did. Welcome to The Slatest PM. Follow @JoshVoorhees on Twitter or email at josh.voorhees@slate.com.

THE KEN JENNINGS LEADERBOARD: This week's Slate office standings: 1) June Thomas 400; 2) David Plotz 372; 3) Mark Stern 347; 4) Josh Voorhees 342; 5) Will Oremus 305; 6) Rachael Larimore 296; 7) Dan Kois 283; 8) Jeremy Stahl 272; 9) David Haglund 266; 10) Vivian Selbo 264. See if you can top us.

BACK TO WORK: Reuters: "Newly re-elected President Barack Obama offered on Friday to deal with Republicans to avert a looming U.S. fiscal calamity but insisted a tax increase for the very rich must be part of the bargain. Obama reminded Republicans that his approach to avoiding steep tax hikes and spending cuts due in January, which could trigger another recession, had just won the backing of Americans at the polls. ... 'I'm not wedded to every detail of my plan. I'm open to compromise. I'm open to new ideas,' he said."

WHAT SAY YOU, GOP: "Raising tax rates is unacceptable," House Speaker John Boehner told ABC News today in his first broadcast interview since the election. "Frankly, it couldn't even pass the House. I'm not sure it could pass the Senate."

Moneybox: Boehner Is Bluffing: The House Speaker has no leverage on the Bush tax cuts. We should stop taking him seriously.

ABOUT TIME: The Associated Press: "Obama will hold a news conference on Wednesday, his first since being re-elected to a second term. ... Obama has not taken questions from the White House media corps since August, when he made a surprise visit to the White House briefing room and took questions from four reporters."

DEFENDING ORCA: Team Romney has been taking a beating for its so-called Project Orca, the campaign's digital attempt to modernize its get-out-the-vote effort that, according to volunteers, collapsed into something of a farce. On Friday, the campaign's digital director responded, claiming the program, despite a few hiccups, was largely a success.The Washington Post: "Zac Moffatt said that data about 14.2 million voters was recorded through Orca, including 5,397 instances of polling-place irregularities, and that data came back from 91 percent of counties being monitored. 'I understand the frustrations over interruptions with so many people engaged,' Moffatt said. 'But I have real numbers. ... This didn’t materially change the course of the election."

THINGS IN SYRIA AREN'T GETTING ANY BETTER: The Associated Press: "As many as 11,000 people fled Syria in 24 hours, some of them desperately clambering through a razor-wire fence into Turkey on Friday to escape fierce fighting between rebels and government forces for control of a border town. The exodus is a sign of the escalating ferocity of the violence, which has killed more than 36,000 people since March 2011. Despite the bloodshed, embattled President Bashar Assad insisted there was no civil war in Syria, saying in a rare TV appearance that he was protecting Syrians against 'terrorism' supported from abroad."

TAKE A LOOK at these photos to really drive home how bad things have gotten on the ground there.

SCOTUS UPDATE: The Washington Post: "The Supreme Court on Friday said it would decide the constitutionality of a signature portion of the Voting Rights Act. The justices three years ago expressed skepticism about the continued need for Section 5 of the historic act, which requires states and localities with a history of discrimination, most of them in the South, to get federal approval of any changes in their voting laws."

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See you back here Monday. But until then, tell your friends to subscribe, or simply forward the newsletter on and let them make up their own minds.

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