FBI probes Petraeus and staff over classified leaks
A federal investigation is questioning whether Gen. David Petraeus’s staff leaked classified information to the general’s biographer, Paul Broadwell, at his direction. According to the Washington Post, former Petraeus staffers claim that they were ordered to provide “military records and other documents” to Broadwell, who is now known to have engaged in an extramarital affair with the four-star Army general.
The probe is a new wrinkle in the already complicated saga that culminated in Petraeus’s resignation on Nov. 9. While both Petraeus and Broadwell claim that she never had access to classified material, sensitive documents were found to be in her possession as part of the same investigation that led to the revelation of the two West Point graduates’ affair.
Broadwell came to the FBI’s attention last summer when Tampa socialite Jill Kelley complained to FBI Special Agent Frederick Humphries that she was receiving harassing emails warning her to stay away from Petraeus. The emails were traced back to anonymous accounts set up by Broadwell, and the ensuing investigation revealed not only that she was engaged in affair with Petraeus, but that she had detailed information about Petraeus and Marine Gen. Mike Allen’s schedules and other sensitive documents, raising concerns about official secrets.
Broadwell, however, as an officer in the Army Reserves, was granted a “Top Secret” security clearance, and the Post article characterized the information in her possession as “benign.”
Some Petraeus staffers have said that they found Broadwell’s requests for information as she wrote All In, the general’s biography, to be annoying and intrusive. They speculated that Broadwell may have used her special status to avoid the searches regularly undergone by personnel leaving classified briefings, thereby sidestepping the normal protocol which requires attendees to give back handouts and other materials they have received.
One former Petraeus associate said that Broadwell may have obtained electronic records by way of the U.S. Central Command (Centcom)’s little-known internal research wing. That research division is unique in that it is the only agency allowed to copy sensitive electronic material and transfer it to computer discs.
One anonymous Defense Department official told the Post that whether or not Petraeus authorized release of the materials to Broadwell, her implication was that he had.
“Even if he did not directly give her classified information, he was allowing his name to be used,” the official said, adding, “I would be surprised if anyone would raise a question for anything below ‘top secret.’ ”
FBI agents searched Broadwell’s home in Charlotte, North Carolina on Nov. 12, leaving with dozens of boxes of files, computer discs and hard drives. Two days later, the Army suspended Broadwell’s security clearance.
Pres. Barack Obama said in a press conference on November 14 that there is currently no indication that the country’s safety was imperiled.
“I have no evidence at this point from what I’ve seen,” he said, “that classified information was disclosed that in any way would have had a negative impact on our national security.”