As long as there have been spies, there have been spy scandals. Usually, however, it's because a senior official got hooked up with an enemy spy, most famously like British Secretary of War John Profumo, who in 1963 was "dating" an alleged call girl who was also involved with a Soviet naval official suspected of being a spy. Down he went.
That was a long time ago. And in the half century since, there's no known record of a Western intelligence chief resigning over the love of a person not his wife.
Until Friday, that is, when the once unsinkable David Petraeus announced he was resigning because of his "extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair."
According to veteran intelligence reporter Ron Kessler, who has a well-drilled pipeline into the FBI, the resignation of Petraeus "followed an FBI investigation of many months" prompted by the interception of an email he sent to the "girlfriend."
Nothing remotely like that has touched the 19 CIA directors who preceded Petraeus.
The late William Colby, who headed the agency briefly during the tumultuous post-Watergate congressional investigations into assassinations in the mid-1970s, abruptly divorced his wife of 30 years and took up with a younger woman, but that was long after he resigned.
Which is not to say other senior CIA officials haven't been entangled in messy affairs and indiscretions, and easily survived.
A chief of the CIA's operations wing after 9/11 was caught on a security camera in an agency garage getting oral sex from a female subordinate, according to a widely circulated story. It didn't dent his reputation, perhaps because he was poorly regarded anyway, three agency sources said, and already on the way out.
Likewise, one of the CIA's chiefs of station in Baghdad after the 2003 invasion was "notorious for sleeping with subordinates," as one senior ex-agency official put it, in an account echoed by several other sources over the years. "He was put in the penalty box a couple of times," the source said, "but it was never never anything fatal," despite the written complaints of at least one woman serving there. He went on to to other higher-ranking agency jobs.