Thursday, November 15, 2012

Wait, wait, wait...

A computer used by Paula Broadwell, the woman whose affair with CIA Director David Petraeus led to his resignation, contained substantial classified information that should have been stored under more secure conditions, law enforcement and national security officials said on Wednesday.
This guy was our Chief Spy?

Oh, my gawd how the mighty have fallen.

I can just see him ordering a pizza for him and his girlfriend and, having no folding money for a tip, telling the delivery driver "Uh, hey, I don't have any extra cash on me, so here's your tip: Go short on KBR. And cancel your vacation to Cairo." This guy isn't fit to carry Allen Dulles' secret decoder ring. Yuri Andropov is laughing his ass off from a slowly-turning spit in hell.


Pakkinpoppa said...

This whole thing is a reverse of Wag the Dog. Instead of ol' Billy Boy playing a war to distract the populace from Miss Hide the we've got War being distracted from the populace by a General being led by his privates.

Borepatch said...

CIA has a long history of DCIs with sensitive stuff on their home computers. IIRC, Clinton's guy (John Deutchs) got caught with that. He just apologized and said he wouldn't do it again.

Not that Petraeus shouldn't have resigned for this huge breach of security. Just that Deutchs should have too.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

So her computer "contained substantial classified information"

Sez who? And you believe them?

Old NFO said...

Thinking with the wrong head will get you every time... And agree with NJT. As many lies as have already been told, this could well be another 'distraction'...

Duwain Whitis said...

All of this coming out right after the election and right before Petraeus was set to testify stinks to high heaven, and I'm no tin hat wearer.

Tango said...

When they say classified, that very well could mean something like FOUO (For Official Use Only) or something like 'Confidential'. Confidential items are minor.

They need to be locked in a filing cabinet or something. SECRET items have to be behind a locked door of the VAULT variety. A safe will work just fine so long as it's bolted, that kinda thing.

Top Secret is the stuff that's behind MULTIPLE vault type doors with 100% live guard at all times. You don't joke around with that stuff.

I have a feeling that it's 'confidential' the way they described it. "that should have been stored under more secure conditions." That doesn't sound like something you'd say if he had really sensitive stuff.

Or I'm just talking out of my ass about what info it is.

For what it's worth, the information on different types of classified information is accurate. I worked Intel in the Marines and held a TS/SCI clearance.

TCinVA said...

The problem with classified information is that it's usually handled by people. People are by nature prone to become complacent with dangerous stuff, be it firearms or classified information.

If a dude has one secret bit of information he deals with, he'll probably keep track of it. If he has access to lots of secret info he's probably going to get human at some point and do stupid shit with some of it.

Tam said...

Duwain Whitis,

As was pointed out elsewhere: "Probably a coincidence, he knew the results of official notice of an affair. He started the affair over a year ago and it has been in the process of officially noticed for months. He knows resigning is not going to keep him from testifying and at best will delay his testimony a few days, its not like he has any pressing time commitments anymore...

Events that are spread evenly across a timeline are not random. When they start clumping up that is a sign of a truly random distribution.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

To be fair to Petraeus, and as a reminder that the media - at a minimum - will deliberately slant things to "improve" a story, it's worth noting that after cementing the idea in reader's heads early in the article that she got the information due to her relationship with Petraeus, they put some important details further down.

"The details about material held by Broadwell, a reserve officer in military intelligence, emerged Wednesday as the Pentagon suspended her security clearance."

and, further down:

"Broadwell's security clearances gave her access to certain classified material, several officials said."

Her possession of "classified" materials - of whatever level, and however inappropriately stored - may have had absolutely nothing to do with her relationship to Petraeus, and everything to do with her own clearances. The fact that she had her own security clearance may also mean (again, appropriate storage issues aside) that even if she did get that information through her relationship with Petraeus there might not have been anything wrong with that (depending on what that information was, of course).

Tam said...


Oh, I lived near Oak Ridge, TN. Everybody and their dog had a clearance, it seemed like. I can't tell you how many times I was interviewed for friends or neighbors.

Panamared said...

Slightly off topic, but is anybody else getting the feeling that Obama has learned from the Clintons. I can't help but wondering what is going on that needed this much noise to keep it off the radar.

Leatherwing said...

Maybe one of the classified documents was the shooting script for Innocence of Muslims. Because we know that is the root cause of all this.

Boat Guy said...

I'm with Jake, the "implications" could very well be part of a smear campaign. Paula Broadwell had clearance and access. I'm willing to bet it was CONFIDENTIAL at most.
The affair appears to have been concluded before Petreus got sworn in, therefore it may be possible that he thought he'd get a pass. I find the timing of this to be right up there with Vince Foster's "despair".
Full disclosure; I briefly interacted with Petreus when he was CG 101st Abn and was very impressed. Ms Broadwell is an old acquaintance of Bride's

Armed Texan said...

I'm not here to defend Petraeus, but I have yet to see any evidence that he let any classified information leak. It has been reported that Broadwell held a clearance before and any classified materials could have come into her possession before she and Petraeus decided to collaborate on

TCinVA said...

Apparently the crazy broad who uncorked this nonsense by sending the threatening emails claims that we were holding Lybian militants at Benghazi.

President Obama holding Islamic militants on foreign soil and perhaps exposing them to enhanced interrogation techniques? That could be quite embarrassing for the dude who made his bones calling Bush a criminal for doing exactly that.

Now it's starting to make a little bit of sense.

Woodman said...

"Top Secret is the stuff that's behind MULTIPLE vault type doors with 100% live guard at all times. You don't joke around with that stuff."

Don't buy the hype. In the military I had access to Top Secret quite often, as a PFC/SPC grunt. The little dongle for freq hopping my SINGARS was like Top Secret or something, and we kept it locked in a 50 year old wall locker in our motor pool shop. If anyone remembered to lock it that is.

Top Secret is just about as safe as Pop Secret.

Tango said...

Those are SECRET which requires a safe and does not require a live guard.

Tango said...

And keeping that stuff in a wall locker is stuff that will get you put into Leavenworth if it was one of the classified keys.

Anonymous said...

Broadwell's computer had information on it, not Petraeus's.
She had her own access to the SOCOM and JSOC communties as a reserve officer

For all we know it was classified junk mail or spam.


armedlaughing said...

Don't they teach you NOT to do that (or to have affairs) in spy school?
Jus' sayin'


Stuart the Viking said...


I think that ignores the "need to know" part of the equation. If she did have classified info from Petraeus, just her having clearance doesn't cover that information. She also has to have a "need to know".

Along with need to know, the source of the information matters. Even if she has clearance and need to know, if she gets the info from an out-of-band source, that indicates a breach of security.

I was nearly bitten hard by this very distinction when I was in the Marines. I don't want to go into details, but suffice it to say that I was lucky and came out of that experience unscathed. After that I was whole lot more careful with what I asked for, and more importantly, from whom. Because you might get more than you asked for. Which could be bad... very very bad.


Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

Stuart: I certainly can't argue with any of what you said. Partly because it makes perfect sense, and partly because I have no personal experience with security clearances myself.

On the other hand, I do note the distinct lack of accusations that a) she had materials she shouldn't have had access to (so far, we're just seeing accusations of "improper storage"), and 2) that she got any classified info from Petraeus that he shouldn't have given her.

In fact, regarding #2, the story does note that "During the FBI investigation that led to the discovery of the affair between Petraeus and Broadwell, both individuals denied that Petraeus had supplied her with any classified information and the FBI accepted those explanations, law enforcement sources have said."

That being said, I do wonder - Does the head of the CIA have the power to decide "This person should have access to this information, and I'm going to be her channel for it"? Who decides these things, anyway, and does the guy at the top have the power to override those decisions?

Tango said...

Jake, in the military, there are rules against fraternization exactly for reasons like this. This being a CIA matter, I don't know if there are rules/laws against it, though.

Brad K. said...

@ Panamared,

"Obama has learned from the Clintons".

Um, wasn't Mrs. Bill Clinton found to have held secret FBI files on political opponents of the President, and would have been charged with felonies if the files hadn't remained hidden just one day over the statue of limitations for filing those charges? I believe the "misplaced" files were recovered from a table in the White House.

Hillary does indeed bring expertise in handling secret materials to the Obama administration.

@ Tam,

I recall that when Bill Clinton entered the White House, the process for getting/renewing a clearance changed from and in-depth, six month wait to something less than 60 days, with many fewer neighbors importuned. As I recall, that was shortly before the Chinese folk started getting hired and sending sensitive info back home to China. Funny thing, that.

As for classified info -- there are marked documents, and then there is information from outside the channels that "looks funny" unless held by someone else. Having a neighbor call your dog "Top Secret" doesn't mean you should have been keeping him locked in a vault. Or the dog, either.

Stretch said...

Spent 16+ years at Langley.
One DCI use to boff his secretary in a stairwell. No names as he can afford better lawyers than I.
An EXDIR (Executive Director or C.O.O. in commercial terms) use to throw temper tantrum that would have made Hillery blush. Clearly visible from all 7th floor courtyard offices. I was on the 6th floor and would occasionally see books and phones arching through line of sight.
We didn't win the Cold War, the Commies lost it. There is a difference.
And all of this does keep Benghazi out of the headlines, doesn't it?

rickn8or said...

Tango, Brad K., I held a TS/SCI "back in the day" and my observation is that the further up the food chain you were, the less likely you were to be burned for an identical breech of information.

That means Petraeus and Brodwell aren't likely to get thumped for any out of band transfers.

And yes it DOES keep Benghazi out of the headlines, doesn't it.

Kristophr said...

I have to sit in the "this is all bullshit" camp.

Obama is afraid he will reveal his poltroonery to the public and make him look bad.

So this is a ham-handed attempt to shut him up.

Anonymous said...

What shocks me is Petraeus's inability to keep it in his pants. Seriously? She wasn't THAT pretty.

And even if she was ... WTF? Dude?!

Besides, whatever happened to assigning ( or having assigned) to the senior officer position a "personal secretary", "personal security asssistant" or "driver" (pick a euphemism ) who just happened to be young, single, decorative, competent AND have a security clearance.... so if anything happened to happen it'd be "in the family" and could be hushed up with a rapid promotion to , oh, Japan, or South Africa, or Paris?

Ian Argent said...

I'm vaguely leaning towards "she had some FOUO material during on her hard drive." I mean, I know FOUO isn't a joke to the security auditors, but it is to just about everyone else. Likely related to her book.

(Am not now and never have been a clearance holder, but know several.)

Bram said...

Wait - I was told the FBI had wrapped up this investigation weeks ago. Please don't tell me I was lied to.

Ian Argent said...

Also, note there's plenty of dumb to go around, what with Broadwell using their dead-drop email to send threatening missives to a supposed rival. That's half-witted right there.

Woodman said...

The rival that also happens to be having an affair with a general.

I'm thinking if I'm the other woman in one relationship I wouldn't be throwing stones at another another woman, especially stones with FBI on them.

And damn, that must have been some swingers club.

Anonymous said...

I loosely scanned some stuff about it. I seem to remember some stuff about the secretary of state vacationing in Australia and Petreus joining her there after his resignation. If true it seems a bit fishy to me.

Ian Argent said...

The stones labeled FBI were thrown by someone who claims (as of the last program for this boxing match the popcorn girl handed me) not to be storing her pumps under the General's bed, and didn't have a clearance. The FBI got involved because Broadwell apparently sent threatening letters to this other lady, who had an FBI friends who owed her a favor of the "ought to have gotten a warrant" variety (and who engaged in some creepy sending-shirtless-pictures activity of his own per some sources). When he busted into the dead-drop email account as part of the investigation into threatening emails, he saw the letters to Irene Adler from the crown Prince of Bohemia-on-the-Beltway, and the game was afoot.
While I've seen strange plot twists in fiction, there haven't been too many.

Bubblehead Les. said...

On a different tack, isn't it a little strange that the LAST person to find out was Obama? Even though the FBI and the DOJ and Holder knew months ago?

I mean, is he THAT Insulated from the rest of his Admin? Or that Clueless?

I'm really surprised that he hasn't come out and said "My Fellow Americans, the recent Scandals over the last few months have proven to me that I've surrounded myself with well-meaning idiots, who will no longer be serving in Government. Hopefully, my next Appointees will have some Brains. And hopefully, the next group will learn from their Predecessors. Or Else."

Comrade Misfit said...

Ah, well. See, I had this idea that presidents are supposed to be informed of stuff that only their underlings can't handle or won't decide. There is a Director of Intelligence who DCI reports to and it's kind of up to him to decide what he wants to bring to POTUS.

My long-ago government/security experience was that once they start investigating, they often wind up hanging you for other stuff. I saw a ship's captain fired, not for what triggered the investigation but for other crap that came up during the investigation.

Having classified material on an unsecured laptop is a serious no-no. Enough laptops have gone missing with vital data on them for people to know that they shouldn't do it.

Firehand said...

Brad K, it was indeed. Pissed us off at work mightily: LE agency, and we were constantly dealing with some cop or dispatcher who either ran records for a friend or for money or out of curiosity; that crap is both against regulations and a crime, and seeing the Clintons & Co. get away with that crap...

Kristophr said...

Bram: That was the truth back when Petraeus was on the Obama team.

Now that he isn't on the Obama team, and he might cause trouble, there is a new truth.

Kristophr said...

Bubblehead: Petraeus was doing just fine, until Obama wanted him stepped on.

Then he suddenly became a security risk.

TheAxe said...

Burn After Reading was supposed to be a comedy, not a how-to film.

Justthisguy said...

Heh. Manymany years ago, when I was a NASA co-op, I had a Secret Restricted Data clearance. They interviewed the neighbors, and all.

When I got my badge, and my didn't-care boss had checked absolutely all of the boxes on the need-to-know form, I, like all the other spacefan kids, immediately hied myself over to the Redstone Arsenal Library ( a great place to shirk work at, btw) and got m'self a microfiche with the Original Orion Documents on it.

Back then, I was young and dumb etc. and would not have minded blasting off to the Jovian moons in a cast-iron spaceship propelled by a bunch of nukes going off behind it at a classified, but scarily-small distance. Without breaking any promises, I think I can say that the charges for that were a bit "special", and not like other nukes.

Later, the boss got tired of filling out recurring security forms and told me to get that damn thing out of his safe. I had to recruit a witness to its destruction, which was done in a huge machine on the back of a semi-trailer which drove up just for me.

Bear with me now, I'm about to get to the point.

When I moved to a different shop at Marshall, I got kinda sweet on one of the secretaries. I thought I was concealing it, but hey, I've never been real swift socially. A wise old astronomer took me aside, and said,

"Jtg, don't get your meat where you get your bread and butter."

Mixing classified info into that stew would make it taste even worse, I reckon.

Sport Pilot said...

Well I’ve met the General before and had a picture made of the two of us, he came across as a pretty nice guy. I couldn’t begin to guess what he was like outside of the setting where we met and spoke with one another. He’s not the first agency head to commit career suicide due to an extra marital affair and won’t be the last. As a whole I’m underwhelmed by this entire public airing of indiscretion and piss poor judgment. Hell, Bill Clinton did as much or worse and kept his office, being disbarred and fined didn’t even faze him.

Justthisguy said...

Oh, speaking of "drivers", I recall a story about General Marshall calling Ike to attention on his carpet, and telling him that if Ike left Mamie for Kay Summersby, that he, George Catlett Marshall, would do everything he could to hound Dwight out of the service in disgrace.

Of course Marshall was a VMI guy, and thus obviously superior in honor, integrity, and all other manly virtues to those effete Pointers. :-^

Justthisguy said...

And further: The least-drunken housemate was an Army intel guy for a while. That's where he met his wife, at work, and yes, he had a nasty divorce a few years later.

Later, he worked for The Agency, and got crossways with them, thinking his Oath was more important than office politics. He too, is a bit "socially awkward", I'm afraid.

So yeah, I totally believe the comment above about sociosexual politics in The Agency.

Matt G said...

He was a hell of a general.

Brad K. said...

@ Anon 1:00 pm,

"Seriously? She wasn't THAT pretty."

Infidelity is about failure of character. There may not have been attraction, or one found the other attractive (appearance, cash flow, position, authority, attitude, aptitude, accomplishments, social connections, color of hair, eyeballs, car, puppy, goldfish, TV, stereo, hair tonic, etc.) and the other didn't care. One may have wanted comforting, exploits, or a reputation. In any case, the presence of a promise "to have and to hold" was ignored -- both suck pond water on the scale of "personal integrity".

Hugh Hefner style "hot" appearance wouldn't matter as much to some people. Especially if Petraeus plans to rendezvous with Ms. Bill in Australia.

Justthisguy said...

Off-Topic, but I think Our Hostess might be amused by it:

I read a lot in the so-called Androsphere, and it's not all bitching and complaining about Teh Wimminz.

There are some smart thoughtful people there, some of them women. One, who goes by Sunshine Mary, mentioned having gone to a special NRA shoot, just for girls, with free ammo! She objected to being pedestalized, and all that, and said that girls are better at some things, but boys are better at other things.

Whaddaya know? One of her male chauvinist commenters came back and said that studies have shown, that if you want to find a natural-born sniper, you should look for someone who is:

A. female

B. blue-eyed, and

C. left-handed.

Mary pled guilty on all three counts.

Say, Tam, can you really touch the piece off between heartbeats?

Ed said...

For fun and background info on how things really work, especially now that Hillary is Secretary of State and Bill is charging big bucks for speeches and being a gadfly instead of hanging around Little Rock, see "The Secret Life of Bill Clinton: The Unreported Stories" by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. My local library had a copy. Even Mike Vanderboegh gets a mention in the book for his earlier investigative work.

Now instead of arms to Central America covering for drug shipments back from Central America, think of arms for Syria and elsewhere via Libya.

Justthisguy said...

P.s. Tam has told me that I should stay out of pistol shot from her. Now that I know this, it seems like I'll have to stay two or three thousand yards away from her.

Kristophr said...


Some time after you learn NPOA, settle your scope sight on a target at 400+ yards and watch the reticule move up and down with your breath and heartbeat.

It's a learned skill, like anything else. Until you get it down, you won't consistently hit the x-ring.

You can also see the same effect with a .22 bull barrel pistol at a small target at close range. Same deal there.

Noah D said...

Without breaking any promises, I think I can say that the charges for that were a bit "special", and not like other nukes.

Casaba howitzers?

Justthisguy said...

Um, I'm skatin' close to promise-breaking here, but they were not spherically symmetric.

Justthisguy said...

Um, Kris, I used to know another gal, also blue-eyed, suspected of left-handedness. She was arguably the Last of the Genuine Florida Swamp Women. The part of her which wasn't Prussian was Blackfoot. She claimed to have a natural talent for holding the piece very, very still while touching off the shot.

Justthisguy said...

Oh, and we're not supposed to say this these days, but having at least half a snootful improves one's marksmanship, at least when it comes to formal bullseye contests. I have read accounts of shooting matches in Yurrop many years ago in which some of the shooters had to be assisted to walk to their positions, and turned in much better scores than their sober competitors.

Of course, they were relieved of their pieces before being allowed to leave the range, I imagine. I certainly hope that was the case.

Justthisguy said...

OMG! I just connected the dots in my head! Not having a pulse and not breathing makes one a better shot!

Zombies with guns! We are so doomed!

How's that for thread drift, Ma'am?

(Hey, I tend to write the first thing which comes into my head. Sorry about that, Chief.)

Noah D said...

Um, I'm skatin' close to promise-breaking here, but they were not spherically symmetric.

Yeah, I thought so. :)

The .gov wasn't so much interested in Orion (fools), but they sure grabbed onto the idea of a nuclear shaped charge...

John said...

The woman is a Lt Col in the army Reserves, an Intelligence officer. That she had classified material most likely has nothing to do with the General. Computer security protocols on US military bases is constantly being updated and modified. Read the statement and be prepared for a big letdown of you think this is going anywhere.

Justthisguy said...

Yeah, Noah, it's obvious when you think about it. Stuff that comes out of the charge sideways is obviously wasted. You want as much as you can get of the effects to go either toward the ship, or aft.

Those things were designed by Theodore Tailor, a creative genius when it came to making nukes. If you wanted a nuke which would Pee Green Paint, I betcha he could have made one.

Tam said...

So... he wasn't a security leak himself, he was just cheating on his wife to boink a security leak?

I am somehow not reassured...

Justthisguy said...

Tam, you just need to Drink Moar, and then you won't care about things like these which are above your pay grade.

That's what they tell us, anyway. M'self, the more I drink, the more suspicious I get about those government bozos and what they are up to.

theswimmer said...

Although I have many, I belive there are three primary questions.
To wit,
#1 Why are we being allowed to bash about the details of an ongoing federal investigation on the Interwebs?
#2 How did we recieve and or from whom did we recieve said information to bash about?
#3 Why am I , a lonely intel geek the only voice asking said questions?


Justthisguy said...

@theswimmer: My intel geek housemate has gone out for beer and cigarettes, but I will apprise him of what you wrote when he gets back, and ask his opinion of it.

Justthisguy said...

My intel geek just got back from the 7-11. He has read what theswimmer wrote and told me that he concurs with it, but would rather be called a former intelligence officer than an intel geek.

He can be even more pedantic than I, sometimes.

Tam said...


From what I understand, the truth is even worse than the supposition.

The standard conspiracy theory would be that the Administration leaked this to distract everybody from something else.

From what I am given to understand, the Administration was warned that this was going to leak, and this is their idea of getting out in front of things and doing damage control. As Lawdog would say, "Ye gods and little fishies..."

Ian Argent said...

It's damage control, all right. The breached compartments have had their watertight doors sealed; too bad for the personnel on the wrong side of the doors. We'll get some pumps down here soon, and a damage control team will be by with a hull patch once it's safe.
The USS President is more important than the individual officers or crew.

Ian Argent said...

To be fair, that's actually a reasonable statement, as far as presidential image goes, for any administration. I doubt the White House ordered the general to commit infidelity. And the CIA and the rest of the national security establishment world likely have offered he had been given a metaphorical pistol and one bullet rather than having the gory details splashed across our monitors. Sic transit gloria Petraeus.