“Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”
—FBI Director James Comey
Yesterday, a retired US Marine Corps four-star general was convicted in federal court to charges he lied to the FBI about mishandling classified information.
This is how it came to be. A New York Times reporter was writing a book on Obama’s foreign policy that was due to come out in an election year. Naturally, the theme of the book was that Obama was not the feckless, panty-waisted naif he appeared to be but actually Super Machiavelli. Amazingly, the book was sold as nonfiction. It is hard to look at the claims made in the book from the standpoint of the blessed end of Obama’s maladministration and not lose bladder control.
In the course of writing the book, the reporter, David Sanger, sent some specific claims about how the Stuxnet virus came to be. The whole program was highly classified, but Cartwright made the decision to confirm some details of Sanger’s reporting and denied others. By merely confirming the information was correct, Cartwright, without the use of a personal email server, violated the Espionage Act. At some point the Obama administration decided to fire a warning shot across the bow of leakers everywhere and probably figured that if they went after a very tame and friendly reporter who wrote a fawning book that they would never be accused of partisanship in other investigations. Cartwright quickly came to the attention of the FBI and when he was questioned, instead of lawyering up he committed Leak Investigation Malpractice 101 and talked to the agents. And he lied to them.
I’m not privy to Cartwright’s thought processes. He had the reputation of being “Obama’s favorite general” and maybe he was thinking that all the FBI wanted was plausible deniability. Regardless, it was a bad move.
James E. Cartwright, a retired Marine Corps general who as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff served as a key member of President Obama’s national security team, agreed to plead guilty on Monday to lying to the F.B.I. about his discussions with reporters about Iran’s nuclear program.
General Cartwright entered the guilty plea before Judge Richard J. Leon of Federal District Court for the District of Columbia. As part of the deal, prosecutors and defense lawyers agreed that under sentencing guidelines, the punishment could range from a $500 fine to six months in prison. However, the government reserved the right to argue for a higher sentence, and the judge is not bound by the guidelines. Judge Leon set a sentencing hearing for Jan. 17.
During the half-hour hearing, General Cartwright spoke stoically and in a calm voice, answering “Yes, sir” to a series of questions posed by the judge to make sure he understood what he was doing.
He did not speak to reporters afterward, but in a statement said that he was not the original source of the information.
“It was wrong for me to mislead the F.B.I. on Nov. 2, 2012, and I accept full responsibility for this,” General Cartwright said. “I knew I was not the source of the story and I didn’t want to be blamed for the leak. My only goal in talking to the reporters was to protect American interests and lives; I love my country and continue to this day to do everything I can to defend it.”
His lawyer, Gregory B. Craig, said in a statement that his client had spoken to journalists after they had already reported their stories and that his motive was to prevent publication of information that might have harmed national security. The investigation focused on leaks to reporters for The New York Times and Newsweek.
In many ways, this case is indistinguishable from Hillary Clinton’s case. The information was highly classified just like at least two documents found on Hillary Clinton’s personal server. Even the utterly corrupt James Comey stated that Hillary Clinton should have known the information she was slinging about the internet was classified even without markings and the information Cartwright commented on did not have markings either. Hillary Clinton and several of her minions obviously lied to the FBI at several points. What is worse, at least Cartwright was trying to minimize the damage to national security. Hillary Clinton was simply not concerned about national security or the safety of US agents and sources she revealed in open text on a unclassifed email system.
Cartwright should have run for president, insisted that James Comey personally handle his case, or demand a “reasonable prosecutor” and this would never have happened.