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Judge considers unsealing court file in CIA sex scandal case

WASHINGTON — The U.S. judge who oversaw the now-abandoned lawsuit against the federal government over leaks in the investigation that led to the resignation of former CIA director David Petraeus is giving the Justice Department until Friday to ask her to keep secret any court documents that were part of the case.

The files include transcripts of sworn interviews with senior Obama administration officials about the sex scandal and its fallout.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson noted a 2001 appeals court decision citing “a strong presumption in favor of public access to judicial proceedings” when she asked for objections to unsealing the records, including pleadings or exhibits. She did not indicate when she might rule on any objections or order material to be publicly released.

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; former Pentagon and CIA press secretary George Little and others, including some journalists who were formally questioned as part of the lawsuit.

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 married 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.

Kelley filed court papers Tuesday telling the judge she objected to the release of files that include copies of emails she sent to some of her lawyers or advisers, which she said should remain privileged, and a copy of a manuscript for her book about the case, which she has already published.

Otherwise, Kelley told the judge that she and her husband “believe that the strong presumption in favor of public access mandates that all remaining documents should be unsealed.”