Petraeus Spins the Media

Accuracy in Media

Disgraced former CIA director David Petraeus is now talking to the press and denying that he leaked classified information to his mistress Paula Broadwell. But there is no reason to believe the denial. Petraeus is an admitted adulterer who covered up an extramarital affair. He was forced to resign and has no credibility left.

Petraeus, a retired four-star Army general, spoke with Kyra Phillips of HLN, a CNN network. Phillips “described” his comments to Robin Meade on HLN’s Morning Express program. One of the big headlines from the appearance is that “he never passed classified information on to [his] mistress,” as if Petraeus can now be believed.

The big problem for Petraeus is that Broadwell publicly revealed classified information about a CIA detention facility in Libya, saying it was the real target of the terrorist attack that killed four Americans on September 11. Obama and his top officials, including Petraeus, had claimed the attack was related to a video with negative depictions of Islam’s prophet. This claim was demonstrably false.

Retired Army Colonel Ken Allard, a former NBC News military analyst and author on national security issues, notes that Petraeus had testified on September 14—three days after the attack. “It was meant to inform congressional leaders about what the intelligence community really knew,” Allard points out. “By most accounts, Gen. Petraeus endorsed the story then being touted by the Obama administration, that the attack was not terrorism but a flash-mob reacting to a YouTube clip. Really, dude? What really rankles is that the CIA director, like other senior national-security officials, is sworn to protect the security of the United States without regard to partisan concerns. How could the director, knowing what he presumably knew, give credence to what even then seemed little more than a politically-inspired cover story?”

One of the “core values” of the CIA is supposed to be “Integrity.” Its website says, “We uphold the highest standards of conduct. We seek and speak the truth—to our colleagues and to our customers.”

The CIA maintains an “Office of Congressional Affairs” that is supposed to ensure that Congress “is fully and currently informed of intelligence activities.”

The Congress was denied the truth about the murders of the four Americans in Benghazi and also denied any information about the Petraeus affair until an FBI agent came forward to Republican House members Dave Reichert and Eric Cantor a week or so before the election. He had concluded that the case was “being stalled, possibly for political reasons,” by the FBI, The New York Times reports. The FBI agent has been identified as a veteran counter-terrorism professional who apparently feared that emails traced to Broadwell and Petraeus friend Jill Kelley could expose Petraeus to foreign influence, exploitation, or blackmail.

The CIA website itself warns about the “potential for coercion” on agency employees and insists that they “abide by regulations governing the use, handling and protection of sensitive information.”

Reichert and Cantor, however, kept the information from their colleagues in the House and the American people. They turned the information back over to the FBI, which was already investigating the FBI whistleblower for opening the investigation that led to Petraeus in the first place. The FBI did nothing about Petraeus until the day of the election, when it informed James Clapper, Jr., the Director of National Intelligence, who then insisted that Petraeus resign. Petraeus did so after the election and before his scheduled testimony on what really happened at Benghazi.

Only after the election did the FBI raid Broadwell’s home to discover what classified information she may have had in her possession.

According to various reports, the Petraeus-Broadwell affair began two months after he began as CIA director in September 2011 and ended four months ago. Hence, he was living a lie as CIA director for about nine months and was subject to potential blackmail during this time.

HLN’s Kyra Phillips reports, “…he has insisted to me that he has never passed classified information to Paula Broadwell.” Speaking to her colleague Robin Meade, she added, “As long as I have known him, he has never wavered on classified information, ever. And to the best of my knowledge, you know, that has always been sacrosanct. I have also never known him to tell me something that is not true, Robin.”

But this is the same David Petraeus who acknowledged to Phillips engaging in “dishonorable” behavior by cheating on his wife and keeping the affair secret.

The CIA website declares, “To safeguard some of the nation’s most sensitive information, CIA officers must be highly reliable and trustworthy. Woven through all aspects of their performance is the imperative to adhere to the highest standards of integrity.”

In order to get a security clearance at the CIA, one must undergo an investigation that “addresses comprehensively one’s loyalty to the United States, strength of character, trustworthiness, honesty, reliability, discretion, and soundness of judgment.”

It also says, “Your responsibility to adhere to high standards of personal conduct does not end on the first day of employment. CIA employees undergo regular reinvestigations, including periodic polygraph examinations.”

Was Petraeus ever required to undergo a regular “reinvestigation?” Why doesn’t Phillips ask Petraeus about that?

Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at

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