World

David Petraeus, former CIA director, gets probation, fine in leak case

Former CIA Director David Petraeus, whose career was destroyed by an extramarital affair with his biographer, was sentenced Thursday to two years' probation and fined $100,000 for giving her classified material while she was working on the book.

Retired general admitted to giving information to mistress

Former U.S. military commander and CIA director David Petraeus was sentenced to two years of probation and fined $100,000 fine on Thursday after pleading guilty to mishandling classified information. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Former CIA Director David Petraeus, whose career was destroyed by an extramarital affair with his biographer, was sentenced Thursday to two years' probation and fined $100,000 for giving her classified material while she was working on the book.

The sentencing came two months after he agreed to plead guilty to a federal misdemeanour count of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material.

The plea agreement carried a possible sentence of up to a year in prison. In court papers, prosecutors recommended two years' probation and a $40,000 US fine. But Judge David Keesler increased the fine to "reflect seriousness of the offence." He said Petraeus committed a "grave and uncharacteristic error in judgment."

Appearing calm and wearing a business suit, Petraeus made a brief statement before he was sentenced, apologizing "for the pain my actions have caused."

Wants to move on

Petraeus attorney Jake Sussman said this was not a case about the public dissemination of classified information, but the wrongful removal of materials.

But prosecutor James Melindres said, "This is a serious criminal offence. He was entrusted with the nation's most classified secrets. The defendant betrayed that trust." 

Melindres says Petraeus compounded that trust by "lying to the FBI."

In a brief statement after the hearing, Petraeus said this marks the end of a two-and-a-half year ordeal, and he just wants to move on.

"I now look forward to moving on to the next phase of my life," he said, before walking to a waiting car and leaving.

Prosecutors said Petraeus gave his biographer, Paula Broadwell, above, eight binders of classified material. (T. Ortega Gaines/The Charlotte Observer/Associated Press)
The agreement was filed in federal court in Charlotte, N.C., the city where Paula Broadwell, the general's biographer and former lover, lives with her husband and children.

The prospect of probation for Petraeus had been raised as an issue in an unrelated case by supporters of Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA officer convicted of giving a New York Times reporter classified details of an operation to derail Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Federal prosecutors in Virginia have urged a stiff sentence for Sterling, and probation officers have calculated a sentencing guidelines range of 20 to 24 years.

Supporters, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, argued that Sterling's expected sentence would be out of line with the deal that Petraeus secured.

'Black books' contained operative names, war strategy

The affair ruined the reputation of the retired four-star Army general who led U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As part of his deal, Petraeus agreed not to contest the facts laid out by the government.

Prosecutors said that while Broadwell was writing her book in 2011, Petraeus gave her eight binders of classified material he had improperly kept from his time as the top military commander in Afghanistan. Days later, he took the binders back to his house.

Petraeus's sentence might be a factor in the April 24 sentencing of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, left, who was convicted of offences under the Espionage Act for leaking classified details of an operation to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions to a New York Times reporter. (Kevin Wolf/The Associated Press)
Among the secret information contained in the "black books" were the names of covert operatives, the coalition war strategy and notes about Petraeus's discussions with U.S. President Barack Obama and the National Security Council, prosecutors said.

Those binders were later seized by the FBI in an April 2013 search of Petraeus's Arlington, Va., home, where he had kept them in the unlocked drawer of a desk in a ground-floor study.

Prosecutors said that after resigning from the CIA in November 2012, Petraeus had signed a form falsely attesting he had no classified material. He also lied to FBI agents by denying he supplied the information to Broadwell, according to court documents.

Petraeus admitted having an affair with Broadwell when he resigned as CIA director. Both have publicly apologized and said their romantic relationship began only after he had retired from the military.

Broadwell's admiring biography of him, All In: The Education of David Petraeus, came out in 2012, before the affair was exposed.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now