Former CIA director David Petraeus reached a plea agreement with the Justice Department, concluding a years-long investigation that shows he gave his mistress secret information, including names of covert officers and war strategy, according to court documents.
Petraeus, a retired four-star general, lied to FBI agents, divulged a massive amount of sensitive data to Paula Broadwell, his mistress and biographer, and fretted about how she handled them in an interview she recorded with him.
The plea deal, which carried a recommended two years of probation and a $40,000 fine, brings an end to an arc in which Petraeus rose to become the nation’s most famous general from the Iraq War, then was reduced to a fallen idol driven from office because of a high-profile extramarital affair.
The documents show Petraeus kept eight black books containing classified and unclassified notes he took during meetings, conferences and briefings during his tenure as a military commander. In late August 2011, he delivered the books to a private Washington residence where Broadwell — his biographer and mistress — stayed during a week-long trip to the area.
“The D.C. private residence was not approved for the storage of classified information,” the documents state.
Among the mass of sensitive information in the books were the “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.”
Also contained in the “black books” was national defense information, including on secret code words.
In a conversation recorded by Broadwell, she asked Petraeus about the whereabouts of the black books, and he acknowledged their sensitivity.
“By the way, where are your black books?” Broadwell asked Petraeus, according to a transcript of a conversation Aug. 4, 2011. “Um, well, they’re really — I mean they are highly classified, some of them.”
Later that month, Petraeus sent Broadwell an e-mail in which he “agreed to provide the black books to his biographer” and left the binders there from Aug. 28 to Sept. 1.
Information filed in federal court in North Carolina says these lapses were part of a pattern from August 2011 to April 5, 2013, in which Petraeus did “unlawfully and knowingly” remove classified materials and retain them at “unauthorized” locations. Petraeus agreed to plead guilty to one criminal count of mishandling classified information.
The plea agreement includes a recommendation of two years’ probation and a $40,000 fine.
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SOURCE: USA Today, Kevin Johnson and Tom Vanden Brook