In a blockbuster investigative report dated January 25, Adam Goldman of the Washington Post has revealed just how General David Petraeus managed to avoid a prison sentence for leaking highly sensitive, classified information to his mistress and biographer, Paula Broadwell.
In the interview at Langley, the FBI agents also asked the CIA director about secret PowerPoint briefings on the Afghan war that were in Broadwell’s possession. They also asked if he had provided classified information to Broadwell or facilitated her obtaining it. He denied ever doing that—a statement that later led some in the Justice Department to argue that he should be charged with lying to the FBI when it emerged that she had more sensitive material….
His legal team later rejected any possibility of pleading guilty to felony offenses. In July 2014 in Charlotte, Petraeus’s lawyers told prosecutors they couldn’t show that he intended to disclose classified information and pointed to Broadwell’s book, which contained none and had been personally vetted by the general. And they brought up an array of classified material that had appeared in other books and articles, including some written by Cabinet members, and had not led to prosecutions. That showed, they said, that some of the material Broadwell had obtained from Petraeus was already in the public domain.
What this case essentially shows is that there are two tiers of justice in the United States intelligence community. The notebooks in Paula Broadwell’s possession “contained code words for secret intelligence programs, the identities of covert officers, war strategy and deliberative discussions with the National Security Council,” according to the officials involved in this case. That the incoming director of the CIA, who is responsible for safeguarding some of the country’s most sensitive national security secrets, can leak such sensitive material to his lover and face a mere misdemeanor charge is worse than a miscarriage of justice: It actively undermines other cases against damaging leaks and mocks the impartiality of the rule of law.
In situations where the leaker in question is not a powerful, connected individual, the consequences of leaks can be…