Apart from admittedly engaging in a sordid extramarital affair, there has been another revelation about why former CIA chief Gen.(Ret.) resigned. Petraeus was reportedly also a member of one of this country's most secretive and most important groups. He was a member of what is known as "the nuclear chain of command."
The nuclear chain of command is a list of government officials who would become entrusted with the nuclear weapons launch protocols in the event of a catastrophic attack on the United States. It is unknown how many officials comprise the list or exactly who is on it, but apparently the US takes this very seriously.
According to the magazine The Week, Petraeus' affair with Paula Broadwell violated the strict “rules of behavior” regarding those who are a part of the directive. The chain of command was put in place as a contingency in the government's Continuity of Government plan. Under the plan, if the president, vice president and other key members of government become incapacitated or killed, the responsibility to unleash the US nuclear arsenal would have fallen to Petraeus as the director of the CIA.
It is unknown where in the chain Petraeus was located or what exactly would have to happen in order for him to assume weapons launch responsibility. The actual organization of the nuclear chain of command is purported to be one of the nation's most closely guarded secrets.
The sparse information that is available comes from declassified documents obtained from the National Security Archives and also from the US Defense Department. In fact, according to these documents, Petraeus' affair is considered very serious. Obviously the logic behind this is that engaging in illicit sexual relationships could possibly compromise national security through the blackmail of the official.
This revelation bolsters governmental concern over Petraeus' actions even more because it appears he not only had access to sensitive CIA information but he also was apparently privy to one of the country's most well-kept secrets.
It now appears very likely that the retired general and his former mistress will be coming under some very serious scrutiny by authorities to find out whether or not national security was compromised.
It is apparent that any sensitive information Petraeus may have shared with Broadwell concerning CIA business would be bad. However, if the true nature and organization of the Continuity of Government protocol and the nuclear chain of command were revealed, the results could be extremely damaging to our security as a nation.