The Washington Post has been greatly embarrassed by the fact that its local editor Vernon Loeb was the ghost writer for the David Petraeus biography by Paula Broadwell and admits he was “clueless” about their sexual relationship. The paper is now making up for lost time.
On Thursday, the Post published an article that debunked claims by Petraeus, who was Obama’s CIA director, that he had never given Broadwell classified information. The story by Carol D. Leonnig, Sari Horwitz and Anne Gearan reveals that Petraeus aides and other high-ranking military officials were often tasked by Petraeus and other top commanders to provide sensitive military documents to Broadwell.
Although some have questioned the basis for the investigation, the Post confirms that the original FBI probe uncovered the fact that Broadwell sent e-mails demonstrating “access to detailed schedules for Petraeus and [General John] Allen, which raised concern about possible national security violations.”
Whether any of this information fell into the hands of America’s enemies remains to be seen.
However, Attorney General Eric Holder seems to have made up his mind. He said on November 15, “We made the determination as we were going through the matter that there was not a threat to national security.”
The day before, Obama declared, “I have no evidence at this point from what I’ve seen that classified information was disclosed that in any way would have had a negative impact on our national security.”
But the Post reports that Broadwell turned over her computer to the FBI in late summer, “and agents discovered that it contained low-level classified material.” This is important because the FBI, at this time, did not inform Congress about the investigation. The Post goes on: “On Nov. 12, the FBI searched her home in Charlotte and carried away additional evidence that she had classified documents, law enforcement officials said.”
Of course, this raid took place after the election, and months after the discovery of sensitive information on Broadwell’s computer had already been made. The raid uncovered even more sensitive documents and the Post later acknowledged that “even low-level classified records typically cannot be kept on someone’s personal computer or in their home.”
The story concludes, “Two days after the FBI search at her home, the Army suspended Broadwell’s security clearance.”
The bottom line is that the evidence is mounting that Petraeus gave Broadwell access to classified information, either directly or through his aides.
Since the evidence of wrongdoing is mounting against Petraeus, it is important to review where this story would have been without the FBI whistleblower going outside the Bureau with news about the scandal.
The paper had previously reported that “two longtime military aides to Petraeus said that he did not intend to resign until it became clear that his extramarital affair with Broadwell would become public after the first phase of the FBI investigation of his e-mail accounts.”
This, too, is significant, and justifies the decision by the FBI whistleblower to go to Republican members of the House Eric Cantor and Dave Reichert with information about the scandal. Although they did not go public with the information and even kept it from their House and Senate colleagues, they did go back to the FBI to ask what was going on with the initial inquiry. This was undoubtedly a signal to Obama’s FBI director Robert Mueller that he couldn’t keep the lid on much longer.
He was able, however, to keep the lid on until Election Day, when he went to James Clapper, director of national intelligence, with the information, and Clapper then told Petraeus he had to go. Petraeus departed after the election and the fallout from the scandal continues to get worse by the day.
Obama claimed during his news conference that he hadn’t seen any damage to national security from the Petraeus affair. This position is now impossible to maintain after what the Post has reported about Petraeus aides being involved in shoveling classified and sensitive information to Broadwell.
The Post reaffirmed that some of the “closest advisers” to Petraeus, “who served with him during his last command in Iraq,” said that he had “planned to stay in the job even after he acknowledged the affair to the FBI, hoping the episode would never become public.”
Consider what this says about Petraeus: the top spy in the Obama Administration thought he could get away with having an extramarital affair with a woman young enough to be his daughter and that her receipt of classified information would be covered up for his benefit.
It is good that the Post is pursuing this matter. But where is Post Watergate reporter Bob Woodward? He has been appearing on various programs in recent weeks, such as Fox News Sunday and CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight, but there is no indication he wants to get to the bottom of this Obama Administration scandal. His byline is nowhere to be found.
On November 11, he was accepting a journalism award at Colby College in Maine, where he was being adored by young students for his role in the Post’s Watergate coverage that brought down the presidency of Republican Richard Nixon. “We should worry the most about secret government,” Woodward said.
It appears, however, that Petraeus and Broadwell were flaunting this aspect of “secret government.” Neil W. McCabe of Human Events reported that they appeared together as a couple at the October 27 OSS Society Annual Dinner and “mingled as a couple at the VIP reception” before the dinner. As the general made his way around the Washington Ritz Carlton ballroom, he said, “Broadwell followed one pace behind.”
Robert Windrem of NBC News quoted one former senior U.S. intelligence official who attended the event as saying, “It’s mind-boggling that she could be so reckless as to show up at high-profile events like this, shortly after learning the FBI was investigating their affair.”
Perhaps this is because she and Petraeus thought their secret was safe from public disclosure.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism, and can be contacted at [email protected].