Paula Broadwell’s Possession Of Classified Documents Under Investigation

ABC News reports that Paula Broadwell is now being investigated for what appears to be unauthorized possession of classified documents:

Paula Broadwell, the author who allegedly had an affair with former CIA Director David Petraeus, is suspected of storing significant amounts of military documents, including classified material, at her home, potentially in violation of federal law.

A source familiar with case told ABC News that Broadwell admitted to the FBI she took the documents from secure government buildings. The government demanded that they all be given back, and when federal agents descended on her North Carolina home on Monday night it was a pre-arranged meeting.

Prosecutors are now determining whether to charge Broadwell with a crime, and this morning the FBI and military are pouring over the material. The 40-year-old author, who wrote the biography on Gen. Petraeus “All In,” is cooperating and the case, which is complicated by the fact that as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Military Reserve she had security clearance to review the documents.

The FBI found classified material on a computer voluntarily handed over by Broadwell earlier in the investigation. Prosecutors will now have to determine how important the classified material is before making a final decision. Authorities could decide to seek disciplinary action against her rather than pursue charges.

Broadwell is a member of the Army Reserves and does hold a security clearance, but only authorizes her to access classified data for official duties, and it certainly doesn’t entitle her to bring it home with her.

FILED UNDER: Intelligence, National Security, , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Broadwell also said in a speech last month that the Benghazi attack was to free Libyan insurgents the CIA was holding — illegally, I believe — prisoner in a secret detention facility. Well, she oughta know…

    Hey, wasn’t this one of the things that a bunch of people wanted to consider a war crime and try Bush for?

  2. JKB says:

    Unless she stole the classified material, all they can hit her with is improper handling procedures. If she inappropriately disclosed the material without authorization, then there is that. But the sweat is pouring out of those who gave her access. Let’s hope it wasn’t with a wink and a nod to the D/CIA’s girlfriend but rather by an authorizing authority’s signature. Now her boyfriend was an original classifier and could authorize access. Of course, unless there is an official US government interest in her having access, the authorizing authority will have some dancing to do.

    I doubt charges will be filed but there will probably be a lot of people who lose their clearances and thus their ability to do their job, so then no job.

  3. legion says:


    Unless she stole the classified material, all they can hit her with is improper handling procedures.

    Depending on the sensitivity of the material, that could still result in pretty stiff penalties, including potential prison time. It doesn’t sound (from what I’ve read) that it was particularly damning stuff, but I have read her mention in several interviews that she had very high-level (SCI compartment) access. Even best-case, her military career is done – she’ll never get another promotion _or_ clearance renewal.

  4. dennis says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    You started out so well. Then you just couldn’t help yourself, could you? Why don’t you saunter over to or Fox Nation where they appreciate that kind of non-analysis and myopic, unilateral thinking, hm?

  5. Jenos Idanian Who Has No Pony Tail says:

    @dennis: It’s called “providing context,” dennis. I don’t trust the mighty intellects here to follow the dots from A to B. They tend to need a bit of help.

  6. legion says:

    @Jenos Idanian Who Has No Pony Tail: No, it’s called “snark” or, less charitably, giving in to your own immaturity. I know – I’m guilty of it myself from time to time. But I don’t presume that it makes my arguments any more compelling.