David Petraeus Agrees to Plea Agreement

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Mar 4, 2015

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In order to avoid jail time, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), David Petraeus, plead guilty to a misdemeanor for his role in mishandling classified information.  The agreement closes a long standing investigation into the disgraced general that started after evidence surfaced that Petraeus shared information with his mistress during the course of their relationship.

David PetraeusGeneral Petraeus’ Resignation

David Petraeus, after building a long and successful military career largely due to his performance during the Iraq War, became the Director of the CIA in June, 2011 by unanimous approval of President Obama and the US Senate.  Shortly after his appointment, General Petraeus began having an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, which ultimately led to his public downfall and eventual prosecution for unlawfully distributing classified information.  The scandal became public in 2012 when Broadwell began sending harassing emails to a friend of Petraeus’ who reported the matter to the FBI. 

During the subsequent investigation, the FBI uncovered hundreds of pages of communications between Petraeus and Broadwell that suggested the two were having an extra-marital affair, leading to the General’s formal resignation of his post as CIA Director in November of 2012.  Although the focus of Petraeus’ resignation was his affair with Broadwell, the FBI discovered that the two may have shared more than an intimate relationship.

Investigation Reveals Petraeus Shared Secret Documents

After his resignation, FBI investigators compiled evidence that the General leaked sensitive and top secret information to Broadwell during the course of their affair.  According to documents filed in the federal court in North Carolina where Pegraeus was formally charged, the General “unlawfully and knowingly” compiled top secret information in eight black books.  The investigation uncovered that Petraeus’ books contained, “identities of covert officers, war strategy, intelligence capabilities and mechanisms, diplomatic discussions … and deliberative discussions from high-level National Security Council meetings, and discussions with the president of the United States.”

Petraeus, at the request of Broadwell, agreed via email to leave the eight books containing US secrets in a DC home occupied by his mistress from August 28th to September 1st, 2012. The investigation revealed further leaks continuing through 2013, long after the General had retired his position in the CIA.  Although Petraeus repeatedly denied allegations, most notably in a 2012 interview in which he said, “had never provided any classified information to his biographer, and he had never facilitated the provision of classified information to his biographer,” criminal charges were filed against Petraeus for his role in illicitly sharing top secret information.

Petraeus Agrees to Plea Agreement

Earlier this week, David Petraeus agreed to a plea agreement to close the criminal case against him.  Although the General declined to comment on the situation, details of his plea indicate that he has admitted to one count of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material, which is a misdemeanor.  Such an agreement does not force the former CIA Director to admit that he actually shared the confidential information with Broadwell as the investigation suggests, and it will allow Petraeus to avoid jail time as the recommended sentence is 2 years of probation and a $40,000 fine.

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