You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Ex-Air Force intelligence chief pleads guilty to keeping hundreds of classified documents after retiring

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 1/30/2023 Rachel Schilke
© Provided by Washington Examiner

A former Air Force chief of combat intelligence pleaded guilty to a felony charge after it was discovered that he kept hundreds of classified documents in his possession, despite retiring in 2018.

Robert Birchum, 54, pleaded guilty in August 2022 in a plea deal that was "kept under wraps" until a Daily Beast report published on Monday. August 2022 was the same month former President Donald Trump's home in Florida was raided for classified documents by the FBI.


Birchum spent 32 years in the Air Force and retired as a lieutenant colonel in June 2018. During his time in the military, he served as the chief of combat intelligence for an unidentified Air Force group and worked with "classified intelligence information" at the Joint Special Operations Command, Special Operations Command, and Office of the Director of National Intelligence, according to the plea deal.

Classified information that Birchum had access to included the Department of Defense's international locations, detailed explanations of Air Force vulnerabilities and capabilities, and the methods used by the Air Force to gather and transmit information related to surveillance or reconnaissance.

A tip sent to the Air Force claimed that Birchum had a thumb drive containing classified information at his home in Tampa. That same day, federal officials reportedly searched Birchum's home and found the thumb drive, taking it and a Dell hard drive, as well as "numerous paper documents containing classified national defense information."

Birchum pleaded guilty to one count of willful retention of national defense information, a felony charge amounting to 10 years in prison. The court documents show that he had "unauthorized possession" of documents and willfully retained them from "no later than in or about August 2008, up to and including January, 24, 2017."

Birchum's lawyer declined to speak with the Daily Beast, only suggesting that there's a story to tell but that no further details will be provided, the outlet said. Federal intelligence officials close to the situation declined to comment, as well.


President Joe Biden, former President Donald Trump, and former Vice President Mike Pence are all under scrutiny for their possession of classified documents at their homes or, in Biden's case, his personal office, as well.


Washington Examiner Videos

Tags: Classified Documents, Air Force, Intelligence, Florida

Original Author: Rachel Schilke

Original Location: Ex-Air Force intelligence chief pleads guilty to keeping hundreds of classified documents after retiring


More from Washington Examiner

Washington Examiner
Washington Examiner
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon