Retired Air Force officer pleads guilty to possessing classified documents
TAMPA, Fla. (WWSB) - A retired Air Force officer from Tampa has pleaded guilty after authorities found classified material at his home, offices and a storage pod.
Robert Birchum, 55, faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
Birchum also agreed to surrender computer equipment that contained classified information.
According to the plea agreement, Birchum, who retired in 2018 as a lieutenant colonel, had served in various positions in intelligence for the Joint Special Operations Command, the Special Operations Command, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
In 2017, however, law enforcement officers discovered that Birchum had removed more than 300 classified files or documents, including more than 30 items marked top secret, from authorized locations to his home, his overseas officer’s quarters, and a storage pod in his driveway.
Prosecutors say Birchum had two documents on a thumb drive in his home that contained information relating to the National Security Agency’s capabilities and methods of collection, and targets’ vulnerabilities. Both documents were classified as Top Secret/SCI, and their unauthorized release could be expected to cause “exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the United States.” the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement.
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