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In the still-evolving Greek-tragedy/soap opera of Petraeus-gate, Paula Broadwell and Jill Kelley's lawyers would be well-advised to look at the case of National Security Whistleblower (NSA) whistleblower Thomas Drake. Because, whether or not their clients possessed classified information won't stop the government from claiming that they did, or retroactively classifying information found in their homes or on their computers.

Media reports about what, if any, classified information turned up on Broadwell's computer are conflicting, but the latest is that the FBI searched Broadwell's North Carolina home yesterday. In a parallel weirditude, the FBI is said to have uncovered some 20,000 to 30,000 documents, many of them e-mails between Kelley and Gen. John R. Allen, the top American and NATO commander in Afghanistan. Both Broadwell and Kelley have lawyered-up. (Kelley's lawyer is Abbe Lowell, who is currently defending State Department arms expert Stephen Kim against Espionage Act charges for alleged mishandling of classified information.)

The Justice Department indicted Drake on Espionage Act charges based on allegedly-classified documents found in Drake's home. All of the information seized from Drake's home underwent a "forced classification review," after which NSA experts claimed information was classified. It turned out that none of it was leading to the Espionage Act case against Drake collapsing and the Justice Department dropping all felony charges. Subsequently, former Bush classification czar J. William Leonard filed a complaint against officials who misclassified the documents found in Drake's home, saying he had "never seen a more willful example" of deliberate over-classification. One document at the center of an Espionage Act charge (with up to ten years in prison) was publicly released after the Drake case concluded and was revealed to be completely innocuous, leading the Washington Post editorial board to question if the entire classification system was dysfunctional.

The attorneys for Kelley and Broadwell should learn the twisted lesson of the case against Drake: that the government can charge someone under the Espionage Act based on allegedly-classified documents that may be not only unclassified, but totally innocuous.
 

With all the attention Broadwell and Kelley are getting - much of it with sexist undertones, such as Broadwell's toned arms and Kelley's little black dresses - the real story should be the conduct of two of the country's top military leaders, Petraeus and Allen, and in particular, what risks to national security these two men decided to take in their contacts with Broadwell and Kelley.

For more on the over-sexualized persona of Broadwell, read Frank Bruni's excellent op-ed in the New York Times:  

There are questions of real consequence, such as why the F.B.I. got so thoroughly involved in what has been vaguely described as a case of e-mail harassment, whether the bureau waited too long to tell lawmakers and White House officials about the investigation, and how much classified information Broadwell, by dint of her relationship with Petraeus, was privy to. The answers matter.

[Broadwell's] “expressive green eyes” (The Daily Beast) and “tight shirts” and “form-fitting clothes” (The Washington Post) don’t. And the anecdotes and chatter that implicitly or explicitly wonder at the spidery wiles she must have used to throw the mighty man off his path are laughably ignorant of history, which suggests that mighty men are all too ready to tumble, loins first. Wiles factor less into the equation than proximity.

A more pertinent question than the content of Broadwell's harassing e-mails to Kelley, is whether their respective relationships with Petraeus and Allen gave them inappropriate access to legitimately-kept national security secrets. That's a question that should start with Petraeus and Allen.
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Comment Preferences

  •  Some of that info may well have been classified (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WakeUpNeo, phonegery

    And as you know, Broadwell's security clearance is irrelevant (as opposed to what some of Petraeus' supporters have claimed) as she had no need to know most of that information.  It will be interesting to see the degree to which the government goes after Petraeus.  My guess is that he gets the kid gloves treatment, but you never know these days.

  •  Thanks, and (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WakeUpNeo, PhilK, gooderservice, gerrilea

    Frank Bruni's op-ed in the New York Times was indeed excellent.

    Be the change you want to see in the world. -Gandhi

    by DRo on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 07:26:09 AM PST

  •  after more info has come out, (8+ / 0-)

    it now seems that the exposure of Petraeus' affair just might be a colossal accident--due to Jill Kelley's overzealous stalker friend in the FBI, who decided to use the enormous surveillance powers at the Bureau's disposal to learn where some mildly catty emails were coming from (and presumably win over the object of his obsession), which eventually led to the unravelling of the whole ball of string.

    It's still not clear whether any classified information was actually released to Broadwell, or by whom, and the extent to which Petraeus and/or Allen may have breached national security. There are conflicting reports; some say yes, others say probably not, others say maybe. And it doesn't seem like anyone is terribly interested in finding out.

    This should really be the first question people should be wondering about. My guess is most of the talk will be of the "Is she hot? Or not?" variety.

    Then, too, Petraeus still has many friends in the media and the Beltway establishment, and they're eager to bury this as quickly as possible.

    "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

    by limpidglass on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 07:42:11 AM PST

    •  And here are examples (5+ / 0-)

      Then, too, Petraeus still has many friends in the media and the Beltway establishment, and they're eager to bury this as quickly as possible.

      On MSNBC, Andrea Mitchell appeared genuinely grief-stricken when she first reported Petraeus' resignation letter. "This is very painful", she began by announcing, as she wore a profoundly sad face. Her voice quivered with a mix of awe and distress as she read his resignation letter, savoring every word as though she were reciting from the Dead Sea Scrolls. On the Rachel Maddow Show later that night, Mitchell began her appearance by decreeing that "this is a personal tragedy" and said she was particularly sorrowful for "the men and women of the CIA, an agency that has many things to be proud about: many things to be proud about".

      Christiane Amanpour of CNN and ABC made Mitchell look constrained by comparison as she belted out this paean on Twitter:

      You can read Amapour's tweets here:

      http://beta.guardiannews.com/...

      •  Day of Mourning for Patreus' Retreat to Monogamy (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gooderservice, gerrilea

        Revealing snapshot of our incredulous, media stenographers & propagandists, who slavishly worship- rather than- check US officials entrusted with great power & responsibility.

        I haven't seen the media humanizing heroic whistleblowers, or exhibit such deep sympathy for the victims of illegal home foreclosures, or virtually any other manifestation of systemic corruption.    

         

  •  Wonder how much this guy knows? (6+ / 0-)
    Karl Rove
     @KarlRove

    With @paulabroadwell at the NCSL Leaders Forum this weekend in Washington. pic.twitter.com/kWGXLBUD

     1:53pm Mon Jun 11

    Source with photo
  •  And might “comings and goings” indicate risk? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gooderservice
  •  What's Cantor's involvement in this mean? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NonnyO

    Other than that he's an enthusiastic back-stabber?

  •  I agree Jesselyn. The focus on dastardly deeds (7+ / 0-)

    has been redirected to focus on the "Scarlet Letter"; males seduced by women.

    As pointed out on Current, by Elliot Spitzer, who declined to comment, his JAG guest corrected the military code of justice, I mistakenly took as Article 133.  He said Article 134 could be applied to both Generals.  He also said it was unlikely there was any political will to do so.

    It seems there is an abundance of effort to place the focus on blaming the females in this sordid story.  

  •  Let's see if I got this straight. (0+ / 0-)

    You feign sympathy for the women, yet you ask your readers to consider that they had Top Secret material on their home computers. Actually, you go beyond even that. You ask your readers to assume that they had classified materials in their home computers. Shouldn't you, instead, have asked your readers to consider that they didn't have Top Secret material on their home computers? And that they should be presumed innocent before trial?

    Now, I realize that, in order to promote the same diary that you've been publishing, in one form or another, for years at dkos, you had to force your readers to assume (1) that the women had classified material in their computers, or (2) that they had CIA or military information in their computers which might be later classified by the government.  (For the later assumption, you ask your reader to assume the women had military or CIA information at home AND assume that the government would later illegally re-classify the data. A pretty nasty assumption on at least two levels.).

    See, without painting larger Scarlet Letters on the women in this way, you wouldn't be able to make the ridiculously tenuous connection between their situations and your diary that you've republished ad nauseum.  

    I would tip you, but the man took away my tips.

    by Tortmaster on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 11:32:49 AM PST

    •  Total Mischaracterizaton (4+ / 0-)

      As I said in the diary, media reports are conflicting. But The Wall Street Journal reported that Broadwell had classified information on her computer. http://online.wsj.com/...

      The idea the government would take information found on a personal computer, put it through a forced classification review and determine it is classified after the fact is not far-fetched in the least - it's exactly what happened in the Drake case.

      My book, TRAITOR: THE WHISTLEBLOWER & THE "AMERICAN TALIBAN," is Amazon's #1 Best Seller in Human Rights Books for February 2012.

      by Jesselyn Radack on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 11:59:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I had actually shorted you ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... on the number of assumptions you foisted on your readers. Besides the above, you also wanted them to assume that FBI and other law enforcement and intelligence agents would act under the Obama Administration the same way you claim they acted under Bush's.

      On top of that, you've asked your readers to assume that investigating authorities would act the same way in a case dealing with people who are known by more than a hundred million other people -- and not someone like Mr. Drake -- who was well known to his family and a few friends. Under your multiple assumptions, investigating officers would be changing evidence while every reporter on the Eastern Seaboard was poking their noses into the case.

      So, why the Fairy Tale? Just so you can re-publish the same diary for the umpteenth time. Hey, everyone's gotta earn a living someway, but please don't pretend to have sympathy for the women while using them.    

      I would tip you, but the man took away my tips.

      by Tortmaster on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 10:09:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Prosecute Patreus with Espionage Act? Cover-Story? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gerrilea

    I agree w/ Jessica's main point.

    The questions I haven't heard anyone ask is whether Patreus "leaked" classified info to his lover, or was she engaged in Espionage.  

    If he did, I'm sure the Obama DOJ won't prosecute him (or her) w/ the club of the Espionage Act (or anything), so long as he didn't reveal any waste, fraud, abuse or serious crimes, according to the perverse logic of the War on Whistleblowers.

    Also, while it makes strategic sense that he admitted his alleged affair when resigning if he had reason to believe it was going to come out, one cannot rule out the possibility that someone had nailed him for a much more serious scandalous/illegal skeleton in his closet, and gave him the option of resigning & admitting to a sexual affair that would seriously damage his reputation & sabotage his future political career (e.g. 2016 GOP presidential run).

    Although this is pure speculation, it would not be the first time in US history for CIA officials/operatives to illegally abuse their powers to undermine a President or engage in domestic political engineering to help (destroy) their preferred (most despised) political actors. Perhaps the FBI busted the neo-con Patreus giving covert "affirmative action" support to his neo-con pals in the Romney campaign, and the sex-scandal resignation was just a cover story to permanently oust him from power w/o exposing a Watergate-type scandal.

    Like I said, pure speculation, guided by history, and my difficulty believing that a sex scandal w/ one jealous CIA Director snuggler would be threatening another woman to stay away from her married Spook paramour, and this threatened woman would just coincidentally (allegedly) be having a sexual affair (or inappropriate emails) with another US military leader (John Allen, top commander in Afghanistan).

    I also find it hard to believe that the experienced head CIA spy would so carelessly leave evidence around of his affair, which presumably many private/foreign spooks could've accessed & used for blackmail/leverage.

    Also, since when does the FBI investigate harassing emails between 2 ostensibly women?

    It just doesn't smell right.

    Anyway, it'd be a great sign of progress if the public became ambivalent about politician's consensual sexual affairs & vigilantly intolerant of genuine crimes, corruption, Big Lies, & betrayals of the public trust, which seriously threaten democracy & national security.    

    •  Typo above: "Haven't heard (m)any" ask (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gerrilea

      whether he could be charged for leaking classified info to his paramour & prosecuted for violating Espionage Act. Of course, she could be a double-agent spy.

      I mean if Thomas Drake gets prosecuted for essentially possessing NSA paperclips at home, shouldn't our top CIA spy be held to even stricter standards?

       

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