WASHINGTON — Top officials in the Obama administration have consulted former CIA Director David Petraeus about the fight against the Islamic State group — despite his admission that he gave classified material to his biographer and mistress, the White House said Monday.
Petraeus was brought in by President George W. Bush to command multinational forces in Iraq in 2007, and presided over the "surge" of American forces there. Defending the Obama administration's decision to get advice from him periodically, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Petraeus maintains strong relationships with Iraqi military and political leaders.
"He is, I think, legitimately regarded as an expert, when it comes to the security situation in Iraq," Earnest said. "So I think it makes a lot of sense for senior administration officials to, on occasion, consult him for advice."
Petraeus has had only a handful of conversations with officials in the White House's National Security Council since last summer, said a White House official, who said it was similar to the consultation the White House conducts with a variety of national security experts. Petraeus is not advising the White House in any official capacity and is not getting paid for his advice, said the official, who wasn't authorized to discuss the arrangement by name and requested anonymity.
A retired four-star general, Petraeus' vaunted career suffered a major blow from revelations he gave the biographer, Paula Broadwell, eight binders of classified material he had improperly kept. The 62-year-old agreed earlier this month to plead guilty to a misdemeanor count that carries a possible sentence of up to a year in prison.
Earnest said he wasn't aware of any security precautions being taken due to Petraeus' legal situation.