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‘There’s code word stuff in there’: Case against David Petraeus laid out in court documents

Former CIA director David Petraeus, a retired four-star general, has entered into to an agreement with federal prosecutors in which he would plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge for mishandling classified information. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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David H. Petraeus, a legendary U.S. general who resigned as director of the CIA in shame in 2012, has reached an agreement with federal prosecutors to avoid jail time for sharing classified information with a biographer with whom he had an extramarital affair.

The deal, outlined broadly here by The Washington Post, will likely keep Petraeus out of jail. But he will likely face probation and pay a $40,000 fine, according to a plea agreement filed in federal court in Charlotte on Tuesday. The general admitted to improperly retaining classified material and misleading FBI investigators about it, the filing states.

The federal government filed a 15-page statement of facts about the case along with the signed plea agreement. Some key portions here:

Petraeus had signed numerous non-disclosure agreements

As a U.S. general, Petraeus had access to intelligence kept through “Sensitive Compartmented Information Programs,” frequently called SCI programs. He’d promised not to reveal secrets — sensitive compartmented information, or SCI — as part of his leadership role:

Petraeus’s “black books”

Petraeus, who led U.S. military operations in Afghanistan from July 2010 to July 2011, maintained a number of black notebooks in which he put classified notes, his schedule and other information while deployed, federal documents say. Among the most sensitive information: Details about the covert identities of officers, discussions with the National Security Council and his exchanges with President Obama:

‘There’s code word stuff in there’

After returning permanently to the United States from Afghanistan, Petraeus had a conversation with his biographer about what to do with the black books. She is not identified by name in the court documents, but is widely believed to be Paula Broadwell, the Army officer with whom he had an affair that he acknowledged as he resigned from the CIA in 2012.

The biographer wanted to know Petraeus’s plans for the books:

Black books used in his biography

Prosecutors say that Petraeus agreed to leave the books in a private residence in Washington so that Broadwell could have access to them as his biography, “All In: The Education of General David Petraeus,” was developed. No classified information appeared in the book, but the private residence was not cleared as a storage area for classified information:

FBI investigators seized black books from Petraeus’s home

The books in question were eventually brought back to the general’s home in Arlington, Va., in September 2011, court documents say. He resigned in an uproar the following year, and signed an agreement with the CIA promising that he had no classified material in his possession anymore.

The general still had the black books, however. They were seized in a search of his home, and found in an unlocked drawer, authorities said:

Petraeus lied to FBI agents

Prosecutors say in their filing that Petraeus misled investigators about how he had handled the black books, and that his actions were “knowing and deliberate.”

Petraeus admission

The general signed the court filing on Feb. 22, acknowledging the details alleged by prosecutors are true: