Gen. Petraeus Leaked Classified Info To Journalists, Sent Sensitive Documents To Non-Secure Email Accounts
from the DOJ-points-to-lightly-stung-wrists-as-proof-justice-has-been-served dept
General Petraeus, despite turning over “little black books” filled with classified info to his mistress/biographer (Paula Broadwell), is now serving out his mild non-sentence by suffering through high-paying speaking gigs. The government — “punishing” one of its own — ended up implying there was somehow a difference between Petraeus and others who turned over classified information to journalists.
But there appears to be zero difference between Petraeus and whistleblowers who received much harsher treatment. Josh Gerstein of Politico reports:
“There is a recorded conversation between Petraeus and, inter alia, Washington Post reporters, which, based on the information and belief of your affiant, occurred in or about March 2011,” Special Agent Diane Wehner wrote. “In the conversation, Petraeus stated, ‘I would really love to be on background as a senior military officer.’ Later in the recording, Petraeus discusses sensitive military campaigns and operations, some of which, on the basis of a preliminary review … is believed to contain classified information, including information at the Top Secret level.”
Apparently, the difference between having your life destroyed and having your life slightly inconvenienced depends on how you’ve portrayed the government to the press with your links. Leaks made in support of government activity have always received a warmer reception.
The government may believe Petraeus is no common leaker, but it’s also going to have to extend its hypocritical shrug to encompass the phrase, “He’s no Hillary Clinton.”
The FBI affidavit also indicates that investigators believed Petraeus “likely” agreed to help Broadwell gather classified information from others. In 2011, Broadwell wrote to an Army lieutenant colonel seeking details about his unit’s operations. The officer replied by asking for “a good SIPR number,” referring to a government network for handling classified information.
“If you have classified material, Gen Petraeus has been gracious enough to allow me to have you send the storyboards and material to his SIPR account; I’ll pick them up as soon as you send the word! I’ve copied him on this email,” Broadwell wrote.
Yes, General Petraeus sent classified info to several email addresses (both Broadwell and Petraeus used more than one account, along with burner phones, to communicate), none of which appear to have been designated as secure.
The FBI apparently pushed for felony charges under the Espionage Act, but the DOJ overrode it, allowing Petraeus to walk away with two years probation on a lesser “mishandling” charge. I’m sure the FBI feels the same thing will happen again with Clinton, no matter what it uncovers during its investigation of her private email server usage. According to former AG Eric Holder, Petraeus wasn’t treated differently than any of the other leakers the DOJ has prosecuted over the past several years. It just looked that way because of reasons Holder won’t discuss.
“There were some unique things that existed in that case that would have made prosecution at the felony level — and conviction at the felony level — very, very, very problematic.”
In the context of Petraeus’ actions, “problematic” seems to be another way of saying “embarrassing.” Holder’s statement to Politico tries to portray the prosecution as lacking in evidence to make a felony charge stick. But the evidence appears to be there. The only thing lacking was the will to do so, both by the DOJ and the administration guiding its moves.