POLITICS
11/16/2012 03:56 pm ET Updated Nov 16, 2012

David Petraeus Treated Tenderly By Congress Despite Sex Scandal

WASHINGTON -- Former CIA Director David Petraeus may have resigned his post leading the intelligence agency over an affair with his biographer, but the scandal has done little to reduce the respect the former general receives on Capitol Hill.

Petraeus, who met Friday with both the House and Senate intelligence committees to discuss the Benghazi, Libya, mess, was treated with extreme deference, getting whisked to his visits under heavy security entirely out of the eyes of the press. Afterward, lawmakers lauded him.

"We didn't want to make it any more difficult for him," Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told reporters. "You know, you people are always the easiest. So you can blame it on us. We wanted to spare him that. For any wait that you did, I apologize, but there's a lot of suffering going on here."

Feinstein offered the fullest explanation for why dozens of Capitol Hill police were called out to shield Petraeus and he was shuttled through hallways and tunnels where he could not be captured on camera or have a question shouted at him.

But she was among many who praised the disgraced top spy, whose relationship with author Paula Broadwell is now being carefully investigated for security lapses. Facing an FBI inquiry, Petraeus resigned just after Election Day.

Feinstein and lawmakers who attended the House hearing said Petraeus himself raised the issue of his infidelity and expressed his regret, which the legislators seemed to appreciate.

"The director was forthright. He received the gratitude from all of us for his service to the country," said Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.). "He made America a safer place. We all regretted the incident that led to his resignation, but we are grateful for his service."

"I appreciate his service and his candor," said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Michael McAuliff covers Congress and politics for The Huffington Post. Talk to him on Facebook.

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