WASHINGTON, June 9 (UPI) -- A number of powerful individuals, including former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Tony Blair, worked to keep former CIA director and retired four-star Gen. David Petraeus out of prison.
Blair, U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and former Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman were among 34 people who sent letters to U.S. Magistrate Judge David Keesler of Charlotte, N.C., supporting Petraeus.
In Blair's letter, he wrote "the world needs [Petraeus'] continued presence and engagement."
"Personally I think he is perhaps the best security thinker on the counter-terrorism issue I know," Blair wrote. "We need his service at this time and his brainpower."
Such letters and other sentencing documents are usually available for the public, but a rule in the federal court district that covers Charlotte kept the documents secret until nine media organizations filed a court motion to unseal them under the Freedom of Information Act.
Other people who wrote in support of Petraeus include Graham Allison, founding dean of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government; retired Admiral William McRaven, former commander of U.S. Special Operations Command; and President Barack Obama's former national security adviser Tom Donilon.
"This is an example of why that secrecy is not appropriate," Hanna Bloch-Wehba, a legal fellow with Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, one of the media organizations that sought the documents, said. "We knew those letters were going to be of particular interest because they are written by a Who's Who of the political and military establishment."
In April, Petraeus was sentenced to two years probation and a $100,000 fine after delivering a guilty plea for sharing government secrets with his mistress.
Petraeus was the most celebrated general in the post-Sept. 11 era, leading troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. On Sept. 6, 2011, he was sworn in as the Central Intelligence Agency director. A little more than a year later, he resigned. While he originally cited personal reasons for his departure, he later admitted to an affair with Paula Broadwell, his biographer.