Retired Air Force Intel Boss Caught With Hundreds of Top Secret Docs at Homeg
Amid seemingly endless revelations of classified government files turning up at the homes of certain sitting and former U.S. presidents (as well as veeps), a high-ranking Air Force officer has quietly admitted to retaining hundreds of highly sensitive documents at his Florida home.
Some of the information was classified at the Top Secret/SCI level, and laid out, among other things, capabilities and collection methods used by the National Security Agency (NSA), according to investigators. If ever exposed, the files “could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the United States,” prosecutors said in a plea agreement unsealed over the weekend and obtained by The Daily Beast.
Robert Birchum, 54, spent 32 years in the Air Force and retired as a lieutenant colonel in June 2018. During his career, Birchum served as the chief of combat intelligence for an unidentified Air Force group, and later worked with “classified intelligence information” at the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), Special Operations Command (SOCOM), and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), according to the plea deal, which was signed Aug. 26, 2022, but kept under wraps until now.
Some of the classified material Birchum accessed “concerned Department of Defense locations throughout the world, detailed explanations of the Air Force's capabilities and vulnerabilities, and, among other things, the methods by which the Air Force gathers, transmits, and uses information observed by various Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) platforms,” the plea documents state. The Air Force has a long history with the NSA, and the service branch works closely with the agency on gathering signals intelligence worldwide.
Prosecutors said in a filing that Birchum “abused a position of public trust and used a special skill in a manner that significantly facilitated the commission and concealment of the offense.”