“I was embedded with Gen. Petraeus in Afghanistan and it was a little confusing for some of the folks there because I’m also a military reservist with a top secret/SCI clearance and then some. So, a lot of my former peers didn’t know how to treat me. Was I journalist Broadwell or was I Major Broadwell?” she recalled. “I had to follow very clear lines of non-disclosure and signed non-disclosure agreements like my colleagues. I felt like I was almost held to a higher level of accountability because I could lose my clearance.”…

Journalists embedded with the military often have access to some classified information. The practice falls into a kind of gray area. Many embed assignments would be hard to undertake without knowing some sensitive information about tactics and upcoming operations. But, journalists don’t have security clearances and are not subject to background investigations.

In any event, Broadwell said she did not consider herself a journalist. In her remarks to the security professionals, journalists and government contractors at the Aspen event, she repeatedly used language that stressed how familiar she was with secret matters. During her relatively brief comments, she spoke of working for a Joint Terrorism Task Force, of her top secret clearance “and then some,” and of familiarity with “Five Eyes” efforts—lingo for U.S. Government intelligence information shared only with Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom.