Ex-CIA chief David Petraeus admits mishandling classified information

Washington DC(AFP): David Petraeus, the former CIA director and top Army general whose affair with his biographer brought down what many considered a bright political future, has agreed to plead guilty to mishandling classified materials.

The plea agreement which carries a possible sentence of up to a year in prison represents a stunning fall for the retired four-star Army general who led American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and was perhaps the most admired military leader of his generation.

Petraeus, 62, agreed to plead guilty to one count of unauthorized removal and retention of material. The case was filed in federal court in Charlotte, the hometown of Paula Broadwell, the general’s biographer and former mistress. Under the plea agreement, prosecutors recommended two years of probation and no prison time. But the judge who hears the plea is not bound by that recommendation. No immediate date was set for Petraeus to enter the plea.

Prosecutors said that while Broadwell was writing her book, Petraeus gave her binders of classified material containing, among other information, his daily schedule and notes about his discussions with President Barack Obama. Those binders, known was “black books,” were seized by the FBI in a search of Petraeus’ home. Petraeus lied to FBI agents about providing them to Broadwell and said he never gave her classified material, according to court documents.

Petraeus’ lawyers, David Kendall and Robert Barnett in Washington, declined to comment. A telephone message left for Broadwell was not immediately returned. Her lawyer, Robert Muse of Washington, said he had no comment. Petraeus admitted having an affair with Broadwell when he resigned from his position in November 2012. Both have publicly apologised and said their romantic relationship began only after he retired from the military and started at the CIA.

The binders were known as “black books” and were seized by the FBI in a search of Petraeus’ home, according to court documents. He also lied about providing them to Broadwell, according to court documents. When Petraeus resigned from the CIA, he signed a security exit form indicating he had no classified material in his possession. However, he still had the black books in his home at that time. On April 5, 2013, the FBI searched his home and seized the black books from an unlocked desk drawer in a first-floor study.