by Justin Miller and Nancy A Youssef 3-3-15
The one-time CIA director didn’t just disclose secrets to his mistress. He shared with her some of the most sensitive information the Pentagon has.
David Petraeus, a retired four-star general and former director of the CIA, pleaded guilty Tuesday to giving highly classified information to his ex-mistress. The information came in the form of eight black books that contained everything from identities of covert officers to discussions with President Obama.
The Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation alleged back in 2012 that Petraeus gave secret information to Paula Broadwell, but the seriousness of the information wasn’t clear until now.
While he was commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, Petraeus “maintained bound, five-by-eight inch notebooks that contained his daily schedule and classified and unclassified notes he took during official meetings, conferences and briefings,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina writes in a statement of fact regarding the case.
The notebooks had black covers with Petraeus’s business card taped on the front of each of them.
All eight books “collectively contained classified information regarding the identifies of covert officers, war strategy, intelligence capabilities and mechanisms, diplomatic discussions, quotes and deliberative discussions from high-level National Security Council meetings… and discussions with the president of the United States.”
The books also contained “national defense information, including top secret/SCI and code word information,” according to the court papers. In other words: These weren’t just ordinary secrets. This was highly, highly classified material.
While a historian from the Department of Defense gathered and organized classified materials that Petraeus collected while serving in the Pentagon, he “never provided the black books to his DOD historian.”
Instead, Petraeus kept the black books in a “rucksack” in his home, according to a conversation recorded by biographer and mistress Paula Broadwell in 2011.
“They are highly classified, some of them… I mean there’s code word stuff in there,” Petraeus said. Nevertheless, he emailed her and agreed to provide the black books.
Then Petraeus personally delivered the black books to a residence where Broadwell was staying in Washington, D.C. A few days later, he returned to retrieve them.
On Oct. 26, 2012, Petraeus was interviewed by FBI agents in CIA headquarters while he was still director. Petraeus told them he had never provided any classified information to Broadwell or facilitated her provision of the information.
“These statements were false. Defendant David Howell Petraeus then and there knew that he previously shared the black books with his biographer.”
All eight books “collectively contained classified information regarding the identifies of covert officers, war strategy, intelligence capabilities and mechanisms… and discussions with the president of the United states.”
On Nov. 9, 2012, Petraeus resigned from the CIA following the revelation of his affair with Broadwell. This came after Tampa socialite Jill Kelley told the FBI that Broadwell was harassing her via email. The FBI traced Broadwell’s emails and discovered she was communicating with Petraeus. The FBI told Petraeus’s boss, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, of the suspected affair.
Upon leaving Langley, Petraeus signed a nondisclosure agreement saying “I gave my assurance that there is no classified material in my possession, custody, or control at this time.” This was when the black books, full of such material, were in his home.
Six months later, in April 2013, the FBI executed a search warrant on the Petraeus residence and seized the black books from an “unlocked desk drawer” on the first floor.
The U.S. Attorney writes that Petraeus “unlawfully and knowingly remove[d] such documents and materials without authority and thereafter intentionally retained” them in locations unauthorized for their retention.
Even now, more than two years after his downfall, news about Petraeus’s plea deal was met, in parts of the Pentagon, with shock. Some gasped upon learning the news that the most celebrated general since 9/11 was now pleading guilty to lying to his government.
At his height, Petraeus was the public face on an unpopular war who seemingly staved off violence in Iraq, albeit temporarily. Petraeus did it, in part, by bypassing the chain of command as the Iraq commander, speaking directly to then-President George W. Bush, the media, and the American public. His tactics and public persona are so unique that military academies students and lecturers still debate his approach.
Such standout conduct led to a perception that the generals no longer answered to a civilian leadership. And that set off tensions between the military and its civilian leadership that remain today. In his first weeks as defense secretary, Ashton Carter has repeatedly reminded commanders and troops of the importance of the chain of command.
Neither the news that Petraeus’s name appears as the defendant on a charging sheet or that he lied to federal investigators from his Langley office shook his standing in the military community—or so it seemed.
Even those who are outraged would never publicly say so. The lingering fear that confronting Petraeus could end one’s careers remains within the ranks.
Petraeus pleaded guilty to one count of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material. The deal lets Petraeus avoid a long, public trial that would reveal details of his affair with Broadwell (he’s still married to Holly Petraeus) and further sully the reputation of the best-known general of his generation.
The misdemeanor charge carries with it a one-year prison sentence, but prosecutors have suggested two years probation and a $40,000 fine. Petraeus awaits sentencing by a judge. It’s unclear if Petraeus would be stripped of his security clearance, which he kept after resigning from the CIA.
“David Howell Petraeus, 60, is a graduate of West Point and steeped in the academy’s honor code—which demands that “a cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.” His wife of nearly 40 years, Holly, also knows the code her husband lives by. When she first met the young Petraeus in 1973, he was a cadet at West Point where her father was superintendent.”
“To say Paula Broadwell is an overachiever is an understatement. She grew up in North Dakota, graduated from West Point and worked in military intelligence. She studied Arabic in the Middle East—Jordan in particular—and specialized in counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, and geopolitical analysis. This is not a field that includes many women, so the stunning Broadwell likely stood out among her peers.”
To me the issue is not what this uncleared woman did or did not do with that material, or what the general got out of it, but rather why these “jsutice department” people gave him such a sweet plea deal. It is a travesty and a joke. Given his position he should be held to a higher, not a lower, standard; and given a larger, not smaller penalty for what he did. NOTHING in this joke of a deal will deter anyone from doing similar violations in the future. In fact, it might encourage it but demonstarting the weakness of enforcement of the laws of this country. I say REJECT the plea deal, judge; and strip this guy of all clearances, from highest compartmented levels to the lowest access. He can flip burgers at BK. And how about going after his pension. Just sayin’
Question: Why does Congress permit military men to wear uniforms full of fruit salad and shiny objects when testifying before them? Seriously. All that bullshit is a dominance display identical to that of male birds, and affects other males on both conscious and subconscious levels, adding false value to the words of the fruit-salad displayer. This is a double-whammy, coz military men are often some of the dumbest SOBs on the planet.
What a great country we live in. This butthole gives up HIGHLY CLASSIFIED AND TOP SECRET documents to his mistress when she requested it and he walks away with a hand slap. Why would she need this stuff and ask to see it??? Bathroom reading?
She was providing information to somebody, DUH!!! She got spy names, Obama briefing notes, code words and more. All stuff that could have caused major issues for many people here and abroad and a hand slap is the best we can do??
Really pays to have friends in high places. F’ING INCREDIBLE!!!!!!! Strip him of his security clearance, retirement pay and throw his butt in jail for 20 years or more! I don’t care what his past record is, he gave up highly classified information. We have hung people in this country for that in the past. We’re paying this traitor retirement pay and benefits? REALLY???
How is that any different from what people elected go Congress get away with all the time??? Who ever strips them of their benefits?
@graywolf181961 – She was a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army and certainly had a pretty high security clearance. In addition she was his biographer and no ill-intent was intended. It’s not like she was some Israeli spy or something.
In addition most of that stuff was pretty old and not particularly relevant. So the only real issue is she turned out to be an Israeli spy or something. Which apparently she was not.
I just love that picture! [http://cdn.thedailybeast.com/content/dailybeast/articles/2015/03/03/petraeus-mistress-got-secret-black-books-full-of-code-words-spy-names-and-briefings-with-obama/jcr:content/image.crop.800.500.jpg/1425407376910.cached.jpg]
Let’s all remember that this is the smiling, self-satisfied, above-it-all, follow-no-rules look of corruption. It’s amazing how the government, and the military, go soft on their own when these horrible offenses occur. The people are outraged, but our “leaders” let their cronies skate, time after time. If you did anything like this at your job, you would be broke and behind bars forever. But generals work to a lower, not a higher, standard. Never forget that. And never trust a one of them.
I work in that classified world. I sign papers that tell me I will be prosecuted by the federal government if I reveal things like that. No one would find an excuse for me.
Even if there was no harm done, a former DIRECTOR of the CIA has to serve as an example for the thousands of operatives under him. If he was a Freemason and let loose of secrets like that, they would have buried him up to his neck on a beach ten feet from the water at low tide.
As it is, he will just write a book and make millions.
The improbable discovery remains that way before Snowdon, this other Military socialite (without any security clearance), felt her close relationship with a General threatened, went with the worrisome emails to an FBI friend who within a couple hours discovered the secret email between Petraeus and his Mistress which brought everything to light. And we thought we weren’t watched.