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.

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Comments on “Gen. Petraeus Leaked Classified Info To Journalists, Sent Sensitive Documents To Non-Secure Email Accounts”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

they have no reason to. The police are more than willing to prop them up as long as they are allowed to brutalize, steal and murder anyone they want to with next to no consequences.

The alphabet agencies have been given free reign to commit whatever crimes they want in return for spying on the citizens.

The courts rule in favour of the government 9/10 as long as the phrase national security is used.

The american citizen has proven so far to talk about it but not really stand up to these constant abuses against their law given rights. save for the odd group here or there.

What reason would a tyranny have to pretend they are not one exactly?

David says:


“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.”

Entirely accurate. Those “unique things” are “friends in high places”. A conviction at the felony level of the “wrist slap plus hug” kind would set a terrible, terrible precedent for whistleblower manhunts, under Espionage Act and whatever else.

So the solution is to not even try prosecuting a member of the “good old guys” cabaal for the kind of acts you want to make others regret the rest of their life.

David says:

Re: Hmmm

How many years in prison did they give Chelsea Manning for the same thing?

They didn’t. You don’t listen. “Legal precedent” would have made it hard to explain why the same thing puts one person into jail for decades while letting another person roam free. That’s what “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.” is about. Since they did not even prosecute Petraeus at felony level, nobody can complain that the verdict for him is ridiculously different from that of Manning.

Judges aren’t allowed to nilly-willy make up verdicts to their liking, but the DOJ has “discretion” to prosecute. Or not.

David says:

Re: Re:

Legally this is precedent. But it looks bad to pardon someone who sells state secrets for self-aggrandization and sex while locking people away for decades who uncover large-scale constitutional violations (and a deliberately criminal government).

That just doesn’t work well propagandawise. The earlier you sort this into the “and now for something completely different” category, the easier it gets to bluster your way through.

Anonymous Coward says:

Cognitive dissonance

I am really confused about what point you’re trying to make. If it’s that people are treated differently based on whether they’re politicians, generals, soldiers, or civil servants, then I get that. If you’re implying that a candidate for US president shouldn’t be subject to the rules because others got off easy, then I can’t follow your logic. A set of cases that clearly indicates a corrupt process doesn’t require us to condone further corruption. It should incite us to demand that our government shall never again give a pass to anyone who willingly or carelessly violates the public trust.

jim says:


I hope I got my waders on, this is deep. Guess you have never heard of Nixon/Ford? Check it out. How about Regan and the iatolla, or Regan and North? Check it out.I’m pointing out how long this has been going on. It’s not a new issue. The new issue is for you to take your eyes off the ball of the election, and pass the popcorn please, to take your eyes off the candidates, chosen by the few. Not the many. They really wanted a puppet like betrayus.another CIA wonk in the wh. Like bill, he was easily controlled by sex. But who was she working for? No one says. But it shows they got away with corrupting our government. Defeating the will of the people with lies and deceit. Sounds like the yellow press again.

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