Plea deal may keep the disgraced four-star general out of prison

By Sandra Sobieraj Westfall
Updated March 04, 2015 11:45 AM
Credit: ISAF/AP

In a bid to stay out of prison, former CIA director and four-star general David Petraeus pleaded guilty to giving his mistress, Paula Broadwell, classified secrets when she was writing his biography, All In.

Prosecutors, in a plea deal filed Tuesday in federal court in Charlotte, North Carolina, where Broadwell lives, are recommending that Petraeus, 62, receive two years’ probation and a $40,000 fine in exchange for his admission of guilt on a misdemeanor count of the unauthorized removal and retention of classified material.

While Broadwell was researching and writing her book on the former top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, Petraeus lent her eight “black book” binders of classified material that included identities of covert operatives overseas and notes on his discussions with President Obama, prosecutors said.

But, as the Associated Press points out, the judge who hears the plea can still sentence Petraeus to up to one year in prison.

That would be less than the 30 months in prison former CIA officer John Kiriakou got on a similar plea for a similar crime in 2012, a sentence that Petraeus, then leading the CIA, hailed at the time by saying, “Oaths do matter, and there are indeed consequences for those who believe they are above the laws.”

None of Petraeus’s attorneys had any comment on his own plea this week. And Broadwell, 42, a West Point graduate who has two young sons with her radiologist husband, did not come to the door when her hometown newspaper The Charlotte Observer knocked at the door of her home on Tuesday.

Broadwell describes herself on Twitter as “Wife; Mom; Vet; Leadership Consultant; Author/Blogger/Journo; Women, Vets, Freedom of Press, & Gender in the Media Activist; Triathlete, Telemarker, Surfer!” and is not yet in the clear herself.

According to the Observer, Broadwell could be prosecuted for the same crime as Petraeus, but she’d have a strong defense if she could argue she was acting as a journalist when she was writing her Petraeus biography.

Is it a coincidence that her Twitter profile banner now features an upraised fist clutching a pencil under the words “Defend Our Free Press”?