WASHINGTON — The retired Army general chosen by Donald Trump to be national security adviser was investigated for inappropriately sharing classified information with foreign military officers while he was serving as an intelligence commander in Afghanistan.
Army documents that were made public Wednesday by the Washington Post and obtained by The Associated Press concluded that while some intelligence was wrongly shared by Michael Flynn, it was “not done knowingly.”
No action was taken against Flynn, who was a major general serving as the deputy chief of staff for intelligence in the Afghanistan war when the investigation was done in 2009-2010.
The investigation, which had been classified as secret, found no evidence of misconduct or damage to national security. Instead, the commander of U.S. Central Command at the time concluded that there were efforts to “properly cleanse” the information provided to foreign officers, suggesting there was “keen attention to mission accomplishment in a coalition, combat environment.”
The documents do not detail what information Flynn shared, or with whom. But they underscore the complexities involved when dealing with classified intelligence. And they come in the wake of a heated election campaign during which Flynn and Trump blasted Democrat Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server when she was secretary of state, saying she created a national security risk.
The FBI concluded that Clinton passed on three email chains with information that had classified markings in the body of the emails; the State Department contended two of those chains held unclassified material. Clinton has argued that she didn’t understand that material marked with a “c” that passed through her personal communications system meant it was confidential.
Flynn routinely lashed out at Clinton in public comments during the campaign, at one point saying she “should not have a security clearance,” because of her use of the private server. “She doesn’t take any accountability for herself, and she put our country at risk,” he said.
Flynn has extensive experience with classified information, including his stint as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, from 2012 to 2014.
He served as director of intelligence for the Joint Task Force in Afghanistan until July 2002, commanded the 111th Military Intelligence Brigade from June 2002 to June 2004, and was director of intelligence for Joint Special Operations Command from July 2004 to June 2007. He then served as director of intelligence at U.S. Central Command until July 2008.
The Post and others had previously reported about the investigation.