Former CIA Director David Petraeus pleaded guilty to handing out classified information to his ex-mistress on Tuesday, as the facts emerged for the first time concerning the staggering amount of secrets he revealed to her during their scandalous affair.
The married Petraeus passed on eight "black books" to his brunette biographer Paula Broadwell that contained highly classified material, including code words, war tactics, the identities of covert operatives and even his private conversations with President Barack Obama, The Daily Beast reported.
A Justice Department statement says a plea agreement has been filed in U.S. District Court
in North Carolina, with the former top Army general pleading guilty to one federal count of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material.
The U.S. attorney in North Carolina said that while Petraeus was commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, he "maintained bound, 5-by-8-inch notebooks that contained his daily schedule and classified and unclassified notes he took during official meetings, conferences and briefings."
The notebooks had black covers with Petraeus’ business card taped on the front of each of them, the Beast reported.
The eight books "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 included "national defense information, including Top Secret/SCI and code word information," court papers revealed, the Beast stated.
Petraeus kept the books in a "rucksack" in his home, according to a conversation recorded by Broadwell in 2011. "They are highly classified, some of them … I mean there’s code word stuff in there," Petraeus said to her at the time.
Petraeus personally delivered the books to a residence where Broadwell was staying in Washington, D.C., returning a few days later to pick them up.
In October the following year, Petraeus was interviewed by FBI agents at the CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., while he was still director, and lied when he told them he had never provided any classified information to Broadwell, the Beast noted.
A month later, Petraeus resigned from the CIA after his affair with Broadwell came to light when Tampa socialite Jill Kelley told the FBI that his mistress was harassing her via email.
Broadwell wrongly assumed that Kelley was a "romantic rival" for Petraeus’ affections after she had apparently grown jealous of their close friendship. Kelley says
that Broadwell was allegedly trying to blackmail her.
After he quit the CIA, Petraeus signed a non-disclosure agreement saying, "I gave my assurance that there is no classified material in my possession, custody, or control at this time."
In April 2013, the FBI searched Petraeus’ home and seized the black books from an "unlocked desk drawer" on the first floor.
The U.S. attorney says that Petraeus "unlawfully and knowingly removed such documents and materials without authority and thereafter intentionally retained" them in unauthorized locations.
By pleading guilty, Petraeus, who is still married to wife Holly, has avoided having his scandalous private life exposed in court and in the media.
Although the misdemeanor charge carries a one-year prison sentence, prosecutors have called for two years’ probation for Petraeus and a $40,000 fine, the Beast added.
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