from the granted-Most-Favored-Leaker-status dept
The administration still wants to punish whistleblowers and leakers, but only if it can do it with logic borrowed from Animal Farm. When it comes to prosecution, some leakers are more equal than others.
John Kiriakou — who exposed a single CIA operative’s name while exposing its waterboarding tactics — spent more time in jail than former CIA director Leon Panetta, who has spent (at last count) a grand total of 0 days locked up for leaking tons of classified info to Zero Dark Thirty’s screenwriter, Mark Boal.
Of course, some leaks just aren’t leaks, at least not according to the government. Kiriakou’s were wrong. Panetta’s were right. And Kiriakou spent three years in prison for a lesser “crime.”
Thomas Drake faced a potential 35-year sentence for his exposure of wasteful NSA spending. The government’s case against him self-imploded, however, resulting in a guilty plea to a misdemeanor and no jail time.
General Petraeus, who leaked classified information to his mistress, is in line to receive the lightest of wrist slaps for his indiscretion: two years probation and a $40,000 fine. The lightness of the sentence suggested by government prosecutors belies the extent of Petraeus’ wrongdoing.
What he handed over to his mistress far surpasses anything the above whistleblowers “leaked.”
While he was commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, Petraeus “maintained bound, five-by-eight inch notebooks that contained his daily schedule and classified and unclassified notes he took during official meetings, conferences and briefings,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina writes in a statement of fact regarding the case…
All eight books “collectively contained classified information regarding the identifies of covert officers, war strategy, intelligence capabilities and mechanisms, diplomatic discussions, quotes and deliberative discussions from high-level National Security Council meetings… and discussions with the president of the United States.”
The books also contained “national defense information, including top secret/SCI and code word information,” according to the court papers. In other words: These weren’t just ordinary secrets. This was highly, highly classified material.
On top of that, he lied to the government about these books, first in the form of a sworn statement…
Petreaus retained those Black Books after he signed his debriefing agreement upon leaving DOD, in which he attested “I give my assurance that there is no classified material in my possession, custody, or control at this time.” He kept those Black Books in an unlocked desk drawer.
And again to investigating FBI agents.
In an interview on October 26, 2012, he told the FBI:
(a) he had never provided any classified information to his biographer, and (b) he had never facilitated the provision of classified information to his biographer.
Simply lying to the FBI has consequences far greater than those Petraeus will face. But that’s because he’s General Petraeus and you’re not — as 22-year-old Kirstie Barratt recently discovered.
United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated today that Kirstie Elaine Philome Barratt, age 22, of Fort Mill, South Carolina was sentenced to 24 months’ imprisonment today after earlier pleading guilty to making a false statement to a federal agent, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001. United States District Judge Joseph F. Anderson, Jr. imposed the term of imprisonment, which will be followed by a 3 year term of supervised release. In October, Barratt plead straight up to the charge without a plea agreement. Barratt also may face deportation as a result of her guilty plea. During the sentencing hearing, Judge Anderson granted the government’s motion for an upward departure from the federal guidelines sentencing range of 0 to 6 months, noting that this was a “rare” case and that Barratt “knowingly placed a law enforcement officer’s life in jeopardy” by her false statement.
Petraeus was a trusted member of the military and the CIA. And he turned over eight books worth of classified info to his biographer/mistress just because she asked. But because he’s part of the administration’s arbitrarily-selected “in crowd,” and because he didn’t embarrass the government as much as he embarrassed himself, he’s facing a sentence of nearly nothing. His suggested punishment will have zero effect on his current position at a top equity firm and his life will suffer none of the disruptions Kiriakou and Drake experienced. He’ll be $40,000 poorer — and with “deterrents” like these being deployed — none the wiser.
What’s most disgusting about Petraeus’ cakewalk of a proposed sentence is that he himself took a hypocritical hardline stance on leaking after Kiriakou’s sentencing.
When John Kiriakou pled guilty on October 23, 2012 to crimes having to do with sharing a single covert officer’s identity just days before Petraeus would lie to the FBI about sharing, among other things, numerous covert officers’ identities with his mistress, Petraeus sent out a memo to the CIA stating,
“Oaths do matter, and there are indeed consequences for those who believe they are above the laws that protect our fellow officers and enable American intelligence agencies to operate with the requisite degree of secrecy.”
Yeah. “Oaths matter.” Except when you’re the one uttering them, right? Apparently, a “requisite degree of secrecy” means stashing eight books full of classified info in an unlocked desk drawer and handing them out to your clandestine SO in hopes of keeping your
knob biography as polished as possible.
This administration is severely hypocritical, but seemingly no more so than in its treatment of whistleblowers. There are those who will be persecuted and punished and those whose similar indiscretions will be waved away by government prosecutors. The problem is: you may not know which of these faces of the administration you’ll be facing when you decide to start blowing the whistle. Chances are — given this administration’s track record — it will be the vindictive, angry administration that continually hopes to “send a message” with each new whistleblower/leaker prosecuted.
Those on the inside of the military/industrial/surveillance supercomplex — who leak under the name of “anonymous official” to aid filmmakers, deploy talking points or steer narratives — will never see this side of the two-faced administration. Their leaks are more equal than others.
Filed Under: cia, classified information, david petraeus, doj, fbi, john kiriakou, leaking, lying, punishment, thomas drake, wrist slap