Petraeus Agrees To Plead Guilty To Improperly Handling Classified Information

Mar 3, 2015
Originally published on March 3, 2015 6:25 pm

In 2011, retired Gen. David Petraeus allegedly gave several books with classified information to his biographer Paula Broadwell, with whom he was having an affair. He later was forced to resign as CIA director.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit


Retired Army General David Petraeus has agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor count of mishandling highly classified intelligence. Petraeus gave the top-secret material to his biographer, Paula Broadwell. His affair with her ended his career as head of the CIA. NPR's Tom Bowman reports.

TOM BOWMAN, BYLINE: A key piece of evidence came from Broadwell herself. She recorded a conversation with Petraeus in 2011 according to court documents and asked him the whereabouts of his black books, notebooks he kept while he was top commander in Afghanistan. They contain top-secret code word intelligence. They are highly classified, some of them, Petraeus replied. But three weeks later, Petraeus delivered the books to Broadwell and she kept them for several days.

JOHN NAGL: This is a very serious offense. No one should downplay the significance of the mistake that was made here.

BOWMAN: John Nagl is a retired Army officer who worked closely with Petraeus. Nagl said Petraeus told him he deeply regretted the affair, but never mentioned the black books. And turning them over surprised Nagl.

NAGL: Any chance of releasing that information puts at risk collection activities, operatives of the U.S. government and our friends and allies around the globe.

BOWMAN: Still, prosecutors said none of that classified information made it into Broadwell's book, "All In: The Education Of David Petraus." For that one charge, Petraeus faced a maximum sentence of a year in jail and a $100,000 fine. Instead, prosecutors will seek a $40,000 fine, no jail time and two years' probation. Such a charge is not unheard of for a senior official, former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger and former CIA Director John Deutch pleaded guilty to mishandling classified information in the past. Tom Bowman, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.