- Petraeus mistress had substantial classified data on computer - sources
- Myanmar to free 452 prisoners ahead of Obama visit
- China Communist Party unveils new leadership with Xi at top
Posted: 14 Nov 2012 08:32 PM PST
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - 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.
The contents and amount of the classified material - and questions about how Broadwell got it - are significant enough to warrant a continuing investigation, the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to comment publicly.
The details about material held by Broadwell, a reserve officer in military intelligence, emerged Wednesday as the Pentagon suspended her security clearance. There are growing concerns among military and law enforcement officials about the potential fallout from the affair between Petraeus and Broadwell, who co-authored a biography of the retired general.
Late Wednesday, the House intelligence committee announced that Petraeus would testify on Friday behind closed doors about the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Leaders of the House and Senate intelligence committees were briefed Wednesday on the Petraeus matter by leaders of the FBI and CIA.
During a news conference at the White House on Wednesday, President Barack Obama said there was no indication so far that any classified information had been disclosed as a result of the affair.
Obama also said that for now, he would refrain from judging whether he should have been told earlier than last Wednesday about the probe involving his CIA chief, who resigned on Friday before the affair became public.
"I am withholding judgment with respect to how the entire process surrounding General Petraeus came up. We don't have all the information yet," Obama told a White House news conference.
The president noted that had he known earlier, he might have been open to accusations of interference in a politically sensitive law enforcement matter.
Broadwell's security clearances gave her access to certain classified material, several officials said. Government rules require such material to be stored in secure locations or computers.
Two officials familiar with the case said investigators are asking whether Broadwell followed government rules for handling classified information.
FBI investigators searched Broadwell's residence in Charlotte, North Carolina, late Monday, an action that officials said occurred with Broadwell's consent.
Attempts to reach Broadwell, who has remained mainly out of the public eye, have been unsuccessful. She was seen late Tuesday at her brother's home in Washington, D.C.
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.
CRIMINAL CHARGES UNLIKELY
Law enforcement officials also have said that they believe the continuing FBI probe into the matter is likely to end without criminal charges. If Broadwell is found to have mishandled classified information, she could face action under administrative security regulations.
Still, the latest developments could quash hopes among some at the Justice Department and in Congress for a quick end to a scandal that this week also ensnared the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, Marine General John Allen.
In a statement late Wednesday issued by the Marine Corps' chief defence counsel, Allen pledged to resolve the questions surrounding his email communications with Tampa socialite Jill Kelley, who is also at the centre of the Petraeus case.
The retired four-star Army general has made no public statement since he announced his resignation as CIA chief on Friday.
Petraeus has agreed, however, to testify before Congress about the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya, that killed four Americans, amid questions over the CIA's actions before, during and after the assault on September 11, 2012.
C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger, ranking Democratic member of the House intelligence committee, said Congress still wanted to hear from Petraeus on the Benghazi attack.
"When a situation like this occurs with General Petraeus, we have to make sure that the CIA is moving forward on their mission and that in no way will this affect their ability to do their work," Ruppersberger said.
There is no protocol in federal law that would have required senior officials - like FBI Director Robert Mueller or Attorney General Eric Holder - to inform the president about the Petraeus investigation sooner, a former Justice Department official said.
The most recent written guidance was issued in 2007 by Michael Mukasey, then the attorney general. The Justice Department should advise the White House about a criminal matter "only where it is important for the performance of the president's duties and where appropriate from a law enforcement perspective," the memo reads. It leaves interpretation of those terms to the attorney general and the deputy attorney general.
"It's the quintessential judgment call for an attorney general to decide whether to share this information and when to share it with the White House," the former official said. "But this was Attorney General Holder's call to make."
FBI AGENT EMERGES
This week, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta asked the Pentagon's inspector general to examine potentially inappropriate communications between Allen and Kelley, and recommended that Obama halt Allen's nomination to command US and NATO forces in Europe, which he did.
Defence officials have said Allen did not have a romantic relationship with Kelley, a 37-year-old wife and mother who is described as a prominent presence in military circles in Tampa.
She may have been seen as a rival by Broadwell, who sent Kelley a series of anonymous, harassing e-mails that touched off an investigation that uncovered evidence of an affair between Petraeus and Broadwell, according to a law enforcement source.
Kelley sought help from an FBI agent she knew in Tampa, identified by the New York Times late Wednesday as Frederick Humphries.
He set in motion the investigation that eventually led agents to uncover the Petraeus-Broadwell affair, as well as extensive email communications between Kelley and General Allen, a former deputy to Petraeus at U.S. Central Command, which is based at MacDill and oversees the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Allen and Kelley communicated often enough over the past two years to produce between 20,000 and 30,000 pages of email and other messages, which were turned over to Defence Department investigators on Sunday.
"To the extent there are questions about certain communications by General Allen, he shares in the desire to resolve those questions as completely and quickly as possible," the Marines' chief defence counsel, Colonel John G. Baker, said in a statement.
Allen remains in his post as commander in Afghanistan.
A senior defence official told Reuters the messages with Kelley were seen as inappropriate because they were "flirtatious" in nature, not because they dealt with sensitive information.
But another U.S. official said the Pentagon only decided to refer the matter for investigation after an initial look found the communications to be of "a sufficient character" to warrant further review.
(Additional reporting by Phil Stewart in Australia, Patrick Rucker, David Alexander, Rick Rothacker, David Ingram, Tabassum Zakaria, Susan Cornwell, Matt Spetalnick, Margaret Chadbourn and Dan Burns. Writing by Warren Strobel. Editing by David Lindsey, Dan Burns and Cynthia Osterman)
Afghanistan U.S. commander pledges to "fully cooperate" in email probe
Copyright © 2012 Reuters
Posted: 14 Nov 2012 08:25 PM PST
YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar will free 452 prisoners, including an unspecified number of dissidents according to the government, in an apparent goodwill gesture days ahead of a historic visit to the former military state by U.S. President Barack Obama.
State media said the prisoners would be freed with the "intent to help promote goodwill and the bilateral relationship". A Home Ministry official said "prisoners of conscience" would be among them but declined to say how many.
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) said it was still making checks but it had yet to hear of a single political detainee being released.
Families are often told by the authorities to prepare for the release of prisoners who can be in jails in distant provinces, but AAPP representative Bo Kyi said he was not aware of any being given such notice on this occasion.
Over the past year, Myanmar, also known as Burma, has introduced the most sweeping reforms in the former British colony since a 1962 military coup. A semi-civilian government stacked with former generals has allowed elections, eased rules on protests, relaxed censorship and freed some dissidents.
The United States has called for the release of all remaining political prisoners but Myanmar has failed to acquiesce.
About 700 were freed between May 2011 and July 2012. An amnesty was announced in September but it included only 88 dissidents, the AAPP said, leaving several hundred behind bars.
The timing of the latest amnesty is significant.
Obama will meet President Thein Sein on Monday and the U.S. president risks criticism for rewarding the new government too soon, especially with political prisoners still behind bars and after security forces failed to prevent ethnic violence in the west of the country.
The election of democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi, a former political prisoner, to parliament in April helped to transform Myanmar's pariah image and persuade the West to begin rolling back sanctions after a year of dramatic reforms.
The United States eased sanctions on Myanmar this year in recognition of the political and economic change, and many U.S. companies are looking at starting operations in the country located between China and India, with its abundant resources and low-cost labour.
Obama has sought to consolidate ties and reinforce U.S. influence across Asia in what officials have described as a policy "pivot" toward the region as wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down.
Myanmar grew close to China during its decades of isolation, reinforced by Western sanctions over its poor human rights record, but is now seeking to expand relations with the West.
(Reporting by Aung Hla Tun; Additional reporting by Andrew R.C. Marshall in Bangkok; Writing by Jason Szep; Editing by Alan Raybould and Robert Birsel)
Copyright © 2012 Reuters
Posted: 14 Nov 2012 08:13 PM PST
BEIJING (Reuters) - China's ruling Communist Party unveiled its new leadership line-up on Thursday to steer the world's second-largest economy for the next five years, with Vice President Xi Jinping taking over from outgoing President Hu Jintao as party chief.
Xi was also named head of the party's Central Military Commission, state news agency Xinhua said.
The other new members of the Politburo Standing Committee - the innermost circle of power in China's authoritarian government - include premier-in-waiting Li Keqiang and financial guru Wang Qishan, who will be in charge of fighting corruption.
The number of members has been reduced to seven from nine, as expected, which should help ease consensus-building as they tackle everything from growing social unrest to uncertainty in the domestic and global economy.
North Korean-trained economist Zhang Dejiang is expected to head the largely rubber-stamp parliament, while Shanghai party boss Yu Zhengsheng is likely to head parliament's advisory body, according to the order in which their names were announced.
Tianjin party chief Zhang Gaoli and Liu Yunshan, a conservative who has kept domestic media on a tight leash, make up the rest of the group.
Xi will take over Hu's state position in March at the annual meeting of parliament, when Li will succeed Premier Wen Jiabao.
However, Guangdong's reform-minded party boss Wang Yang did not make it to the Standing Committee.
Advocates of reform are pressing Xi to cut back the privileges of state-owned firms, make it easier for rural migrants to settle in cities, fix a fiscal system that encourages local governments to live off land expropriations and, above all, tether the powers of a state that they say risks suffocating growth and fanning discontent.
With growing public anger and unrest over everything from corruption to environmental degradation, there may also be cautious efforts to answer calls for more political reform, though nobody seriously expects a move towards full democracy.
The party could introduce experimental measures to broaden inner-party democracy - in other words, encouraging greater debate within the party - but stability remains a top concern and one-party rule will be safeguarded.
(Additional reporting by Benjamin Kang Lim; Editing by Nick Macfie)
Copyright © 2012 Reuters
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