Retired four-star general and former Central Intelligence Agency director David Petraeus pled guilty to one misdemeanor count of unauthorized removal and retention of classified information on Thursday, April 23. USA Today stated Petraeus disclosed material he had “improperly retained from his time as top military commander in Afghanistan” to his lover and biographer, Paula Broadwell. He was sentenced to two years of probation and must pay a $100,000 fine.
Although Petraeus will not serve time in prison due to a plea deal, the judge increased the amount of the fine originally suggested by the government by $65,000. According to CNN, the judge increased the fine to reflect the seriousness of leaking classified information. USA Today reports that the prosecutor said Petraeus “violated the nation’s trust, and then lied to the FBI.”
CNN reports that Petraeus is apologetic, but ready to start anew. “Today marks the end of a two-and-a-half-year ordeal,” said Petraeus when leaving the Charlotte federal courthouse. “I now look forward to moving on with the next phase of my life.”
According to a timeline published by the BBC, Petraeus and Broadwell met when she was attending graduate school at Harvard University and he was drafting a counterinsurgency manual. Two years later, Broadwell began working on a case study of Petraeus’ military leadership. In 2010, she furthered her research of Petraeus, visiting him in Afghanistan for extended periods of time.
Petraeus retired from the military in the fall of 2011, and was sworn in as director of the CIA. He maintained contact with Broadwell. Former spokesman for Petraeus, Steve Boylan, said the two began the extramarital affair in November 2011. Broadwell’s book, “All In: The Education of General David Petraeus,” was published on Jan. 24, 2012.
Florida socialite Jill Kelly filed a complaint after receiving harassing emails in the summer of 2012, warranting an FBI investigation. Shortly after that time, the affair between Petraeus and Broadwell ended. Later that summer, the FBI traced the emails Kelly received back to Broadwell. In October of 2012, she told authorities she had an affair with Petraeus, and was forced to turn in her computer which contained classified information. The next day, Petraeus told the FBI he had an affair with Broadwell, but said he never shared the information.
According to the BBC, Broadwell delivered a speech at the University of Denver in October in which she referred to previously unreported information about a deadly attack a month earlier on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. A few weeks later, the White House was informed about the affair, and the general met with President Obama asking permission to resign. The FBI then launched in-depth investigations, searching Broadwell’s house.
After the CIA investigated Petraeus’ conduct, prosecutors determined prison time wasn’t necessary since the information was never disclosed to the public. CNN reports that many are concerned the charge is too lenient. Abbe Lowell, a lawyer whose client was sentenced to prison for leaking information to the media, wrote that the charges showed a “profound double standard.” According to Lowell, “High-level officials (such as General Petraeus, and, earlier, Leon Panetta) leak classified information to forward their own agendas (or to impress their mistresses) with virtual impunity.”
However, others defend Petraeus. Michael O’Hanlon, a friend of Petraeus, acknowledged he should be reprimanded, but didn’t think the charges should have been as severe.
“It’s not like he was giving this to the National Enquirer,” said O’Hanlon in an article from CNN. “The personal shortcomings ultimately, I would hope, will be seen as in the same light as Grant’s whiskey or Eisenhower’s mistress, or whatever else.”
Petraeus must make payments of at least $25,000 a month until the fine is paid in full. He has 14 days from the sentencing to decide if he wants to appeal the charges.
Editor’s Note: Information from CNN, the BBC and USA Today were used in this report.