Petraeus to plead guilty to providing classified information to his mistress

Former General David Petraeus has agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanour charge for mishandling classified information to a lover, ABC reports.

By agreeing to plead guilty, Petraeus will be able to avoid a likely embarrassing and extremely personal trial. The former general was under investigation for allegedly leaking classified information to his mistress and biographer Paula Broadwell, an Army Reserve officer.

“A plea deal would spare Mr. Petraeus a high-profile trial where embarrassing details about the affair would have been presented to the jury and made public,” The New York Times reports.

Under the plea deal, the Justice Department will charge Petraeus “with one count of unauthorised removal and retention of classified material.”

The FBI and the Department of Justice had recommended that Petraeus be charged with a felony for the leaks. The general has been under investigation since his affair became public knowledge in 2012.

The scandal surrounding Petraeus is a major fall for grace for the general, who had his fortunes soar as the former US commander in Iraq and Afghanistan. His counter-insurgency doctrine earned him accolades and President Obama’s eventual nomination to the position of CIA director in 2011.

On November 10, 2012, Petraeus resigned as CIA director after his affair was made public. Such affairs carry high national security risks — a foreign intelligence agency could use such affairs as leverage for blackmail in order to access classified information. Any information leaked by Petraeus to Broadwell could also be further leaked by his mistress’ own indiscretions.

This behaviour could have had serious repercussions. As CIA director, Petraeus had near complete access to any classified information within the agency. By violating his security clearance and leaking information, Petraeus could have greatly endangered national security.

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