WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department urged a U.S. judge late Friday to keep secret many of the court records in the now-abandoned lawsuit over leaks in the investigation that led to the resignation of former CIA director David Petraeus.
The files include transcripts of sworn interviews with senior Obama administration officials about the sex scandal and its fallout.
Government lawyers said unsealing some of the files “would publicize details of a criminal investigation that concluded without charges being filed.” Other records contain or describe confidential statements provided to FBI agents, documents sealed by another court or material that should be kept secret to protect the privacy interests of people connected to the case.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson had given the government until midnight to file its objections to unsealing the records. She had noted a 2001 appeals court decision citing “a strong presumption in favor of public access to judicial proceedings.”
In its filing, the Justice Department referred to specific records it wanted kept sealed by their electronic case file numbers, but since the records remained sealed it was not immediately clear which interviews or FBI investigative records the government wanted most urgently to protect.
The case included FBI files and deposition testimony from or about such senior U.S. government officials as Petraeus; Defense Secretary Ashton Carter; former Defense Secretary and CIA Director Leon Panetta; Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson; Marine Gen. John R. Allen, then-commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan; former Pentagon chief of staff Jeremy Bash; former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton aide Phillipe Reines; and former Pentagon and CIA press secretary George Little.
Jill Kelley of Tampa, Florida, along with her husband, Scott, had sued the government in June 2013 in Washington, alleging that officials violated the U.S. Privacy Act by disclosing information about them during the FBI’s investigation of Petraeus. The former CIA director pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified information relating to documents he had provided to his biographer, Paula Broadwell, with whom he was having an affair. Kelley had complained to the FBI in 2012 about harassing emails from an unknown person who turned out to be Broadwell.
The Kelleys’ civil lawsuit collapsed last month after her lawyers asked the judge to let them withdraw from the case. The lawyers cited irreconcilable differences, just weeks after the Justice Department declined a secret $4.35 million settlement proposal.