New York Times:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A federal judge on Thursday sentenced David H. Petraeus, a former C.I.A. director and the highest-profile general from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to two years’ probation for providing classified information to a woman with whom he was having an affair.

Mr. Petraeus was also fined $100,000, more than double the amount the Justice Department had requested.

The sentencing was a disappointing one for F.B.I. officials, who believed that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. had given Mr. Petraeus preferential treatment by allowing him to plead guilty to a misdemeanor and recommending that he receive probation instead of prison time. Federal judges are not bound by such recommendations, but they almost always follow them.

Although the judge overseeing the case, David C. Keesler of United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, agreed to the probation sentence, he added $60,000 to the government’s suggested fine of $40,000. Judge Keesler did not give an extensive explanation for why he raised the fine, saying it was necessary because of “the seriousness of the offense.”

This case brings about many questions.  Had he not been the rising star, would he have even been prosecuted?  He breached security with those emails he carelessly let his lady friend have access to.  Should he have been tried for more serious crimes involving national security?

Is Petraeus being excessively punished for something that goes on all the time?  Isn’t his embarrassment and spiraling descent enough punishment?  He has fallen from grace.  Shouldn’t that be enough?

Would Eisenhower even have been president if he had been politically active in this post-Watergate environment?  He had a lady friend on the side while he was in Europe.  The dalliance was fairly well-known.  I say no, the press would have gotten hold of it and Eisenhower would have been toast.

What say you?

36 thoughts on “Petraeus sentenced to probation and fined

  1. Cargosquid

    The investigation into Hillary’s MASSIVE security breach starts……?

    1. I can just hear the salivating already.

    2. Just out of curiosity, what does Petraeus have to do with Hillary?

      Let’s not do the high jack thing. There are lots of questions to explore.

  2. Scout

    What was Hillary’s “massive security breach”? I hadn’t heard about this.

  3. Wolve

    Scout :
    What was Hillary’s “massive security breach”? I hadn’t heard about this.

    Letting Bill out of her sight.

  4. Scout

    Ah. Fair point.

  5. Kelly_3406

    I was saddened by the downfall of Petraeus. The sentence was probably fair, although I suspect that the indictment was partially motivated by politics. Petraeus pitched a hanging curve ball that provided the Administration with the justification to handle the case any way it wanted. The pity is that it removed Petraeus as a voice of opposition regarding policy in the Middle East. As chaos has emerged in that region, it is clear that his knowledge and expertise are sorely missed by our Country.

    1. I have mixed emotions. How many others have gotten by with what he did? On the other hand, some poor slob with less notoriety and rand would be in the brig.

  6. Rick Bentley

    Shameful. Two Americas, two sets of rules.

  7. Scout

    Kelly – I’m not sure it’s clear that Petraeus is that critical of Administration policy. He was CIA Director in this Administration. I agree that he is knowledgeable and worth listening to on the subject of the chaos in the Middle East, but it’s not clear to me that his advice is being ignored.

  8. Kelly_3406

    @Scout

    Petraeus made clear early on that he was uncomfortable with the U.S. announcing a definitive date for withdrawal from Afghanistan. He also attempted to insert a statement in the original Benghazi talking points that radical Al Qaeda elements were involved in the attack. He did this while he was technically in the Administration. After leaving the CIA, there is no telling how outspoken he might have been if he had not been silenced by this scandal.

  9. Scout

    Whether it’s a good idea or bad to announce a definitive withdrawal date from any theatre where troops are deployed is just tactical wisdom, Kelly. It has nothing to do with American Middle East policy. You’re stretching considerably there.

    As for Benghazi, the confusion surrounding the attack on the consulate in the immediate aftermath was whether the event was more like Cairo or was a more like a military action. In the first few days after the incident, I don’t think they knew. Again, this is a far cry from overarching Middle East issues like how does the U.S. address, ISIL, the Syrian disintegration, Israel, Iran. Petraeus, like Colin Powell, is a very intelligent general officer who knows a great deal about the Middle East and the limits of American military power as a cure-all for whatever ails that chaotic part of the world. I wouldn’t assume that General Petraeus’s views are closer to Lindsay Graham’s (to use an example of a polar opposite from the Administration) than they are to Barak Obama’s. Nor would I think it rational to assume that the Administration piled on to Petraeus’s indiscretion as a means of shutting him up on Middle East policy issues.

    Petraeus committed a crime. He could have caused American deaths with his carelessness. Nonetheless, I would hope that he would not be silent about issues about which he is knowledgeable in the future.

  10. Wolve

    They knew within a few hours that Benghazi was a terrorist attack. A court-ordered FOIA response on behalf of Judicial Watch has produced the relevant messages between the State Operations Center and Sec. Clinton’s Chief of Staff. Tripoli had informed Washington very quickly what the real score was in Benghazi. I expect this will come out in the next set of Congressional hearings.

  11. Kelly_3406

    @Scout

    It is much more than a tactical decision to announce a withdrawal date, years in advance. An announced withdrawal date provides a strategic opportunity for friends and foes alike to capitalize on the absence of the U.S. It advertises that whatever policy the US had pursued will take a back seat to withdrawal. It causes allies to shift from support of U.S. strategy to support of power factions that will remain in country (in a bid to survive after withdrawal). And it allows outside countries to plan for future operations inside Afghanistan without US interference. Those all have major policy implications, my friend.

    If the administration wanted to let Petraeus off the hook, it could have found a way. For example, they could have argued that no real compromise occurred, since Broadwell probably had a security clearance (she is a reservist). It did not hurt the Administration’s interests to discredit Petraeus.

    I do agree that Petraeus knows a lot. He co-authored the most rational op-ed on a potential Iranian nuclear deal that I have seen, but his influence is greatly reduced compared to what it was pre-scandal.

  12. Scout

    Yeah – I get that. I agree that it was a bad idea to put an end-date on our involvement. It simply is not particularly smart and encourages the Taliban to just wait us out. That’s obvious, and any military man down to the enlisted ranks with time in theater would see it.

    However, Kelly, my point is that reservations about that issue are not Mid-East foreign policy. They are just common sense. There was no way to get Petraeus “off the hook”. The Administration didn’t “discredit” Petraeus, he discredited himself. And he did it for the oldest of reasons – an attractive woman who had motivation to flatter him. If his influence post-scandal was reduced, it was his actions, not those of the Administration that did so.

  13. Wolve

    Broadwell having a clearance as a reservist would not cut any believable legal mustard in trying to let the General off the hook. First of all, her clearance would have to match both the level of the document classifications and any special access tags and specific routing attached thereto. Moreover, regardless of any security clearances, she did not have an official “need to know.” I’m afraid the General was way far out of school on this.

  14. Kelly_3406

    You must have more faith in the “system”. I do agree that the General was out of school and got what he deserved. Nevertheless, my contention is that the Administration would have found a way not to prosecute Petraeus if it were in its political interest. There has been a strong political element in prosecutorial decisions made during this Administration.

    For example, Lois Lerner has not been prosecuted to date. The Justice Dept has not investigated Hillary for “servergate”. Al Sharpton has not been prosecuted for tax evasion. The White House put strong pressure on the Army to avoid a court martial of Bergdahl, despite casualties during the search for him following his disappearance.

    1. I thought Bergdahl was being court martialed??????? Did I dream that?

  15. Wolve

    Kelly — No disagreement here on the cases you cited or the failures of the current DOJ. Just wanted to point out that no one could use Broadwell’s security clearances as a reservist to exonerate the General without raising loud guffaws all over Washington.

  16. Cargosquid

    @Moon-howler
    Petraeus and Hillary BOTH committed security breaches.
    BOTH are or were gov’t appointees.
    BOTH were in positions of leadership.

    Only ONE is being prosecuted.

  17. Scout

    @ Kelly re #17: How do we know that the Administration “put strong pressure on the Army to avoid a court martial of Bergdahl. . .”? At the time he was freed, all the public statements were that the Army would investigate to determine if there was reason to bring charges. It appears that they concluded that they should initiate proceedings.

    @ Cargo: it may be that Hillary’s extra-governmental email system breached security. It may also be that it was more secure than the State Department’s system. As far as I have read to date, there is no evidence that classified material was compromised. In the case of Petraeus , there is no question that he let his mistress have access to classified materials.

    I don’t know what we will eventually learn about Ms. Clinton’s approach to emails. It could be that there were security problems, not just archival problems, with what she did. But it’s a leap to say at this point that her conduct is of the same degree of criminality as General Petraeus’s indiscretion.

  18. Kelly_3406

    @Moon #18

    You are correct — Bergdahl is indeed being court-martialed, but not before the Administration reportedly pressured the Army to forego charges. It speaks well of the Army that it withstood the pressure and did the right thing.

    @Scout #21

    The WH pressure was reported by retired Lt Col Tony Shaffer in a Newsmax article. I will let you find the link. Shaffer appears (to me) to be pretty credible.

  19. Kelly_3406

    Scout :
    But it’s a leap to say at this point that her conduct is of the same degree of criminality as General Petraeus’s indiscretion.

    Based on what we know already, I think we can state categorically that Hillary’s criminality does match that of Petraeus. She essentially stole the email record of her communications during her term as SecState. This is a huge theft of hundreds of thousands of emails, pure and simple. This theft could deprive future SecStates of key communications needed to understand the evolution of foreign policy for particular countries. It deprives Congress of the complete record needed to conduct oversight. It deprives scholars of the complete trove of records needed for historical research. It deprives ordinary citizens from FOIA requests related to SecState.

    All this was premeditated — she set up these servers specifically to create the capability to control the flow of information and to eliminate any communications that were embarrassing or criminal. The servers gave her the ability to destroy US property — her emails as SecState — and to “launder” the official record of the United States. She essentially planned her “coverup” before she even took office.

  20. Wolve

    @Scout

    Who has investigated the Clinton e-mail case to a point where they can state with any credibility that there is no evidence that classified material was compromised? Seems rather early to make such a statement from a professional investigative standpoint. Source?

  21. Scout

    Look, Kelly – I’m no fan of the Clintons. But “theft” has a technical, legal meaning and, so far, that’s not what we’re talking about. I view the private server as a great example of Clinton arrogance and a likely violation of government policies concerning retention of records. But from the public record about this, we aren’t even near criminality yet. It may come as more is revealed, but we aren’t there. If someone finds that Mrs. Clinton was knowingly divulging classified materials to unauthorized recipients, then we are in the Petraeus realm. If we find that she deleted materials that would make her out to have been negligent or worse in the Benghazi situation, then there will be negative political repercussions for her. If we find out that there was a lot of Clinton Foundation hijinks with foreign donors that she is trying to hide (the scenario I think is more likely than the other two) there will, again, be negative political implications. But don’t go around making up a “crime” that doesn’t exist. If you’re going to nail her for a “cover-up”, you need to describe the crime she is covering up.

  22. Wolve

    I believe that “Oh PUH-LEEZ” is what many people said when Hillary claimed to have made mucho dinero in cattle futures just be reading the Wall Street Journal. Also when the long-lost Rose law firm papers just happened to be found on a table in the White House library. I suggest that the Clinton Library in Little Rock should name one of its research rooms “The Oh-Puh-Leez Room.”

  23. Scout

    Thank you, Wolve, my point exactly. I appreciate your support on this. Perhaps Kelly will listen to you more than to me. We don’t have any information yet (at least not in the public realm), that there were any security breaches. As I said a couple of times in this thread previously, maybe we will get there, but Kelly has already gone around that bend.

    As to your more recent comment, the magical, but much delayed, appearance in plain view of the Rose Law Firm papers is a classic example of the Clintons’ self-perceived exceptionalism. The private emails while Secretary of State are another. That still doesn’t make Kelly’s cockamamie theory about “theft” a real world, viable criminal charge.

    These people (the Clintons) have a very high view of themselves and a very low view of the intelligence of the electorate. That puts them in good company among contemporary political aspirants in both parties, although they seem to operate on a breathtakingly more grand scale in their narcissistic conviction(s) that the rules are for everyone but them.

  24. Kelly_3406

    @Scout

    Have any of you actually served in government in the last five years?

    There are very specific rules regarding the protection and disposition of official records.

    Emails sent by a government employee while performing official duties are considered to be official records. As such, they are considered the property of the federal government and are meant to be stored properly for access by the Courts and public record. When you consider the massive number of emails involved and the use of a personal server to thwart legal requests for access to official records, this should be a serious issue.

    I think an enterprising prosecutor could make the case that this was theft of official government records. She took property that was not hers to take.

  25. Scout

    Kelly, as a conservative with a commitment to the idea that government prosecutions should bear a fairly high burden when alleging criminal activity, I don’t particularly like “enterprising prosecutors.” Sure, people can make stuff up and abuse the government’s power to deprive citizens of their liberty and property, but it’s not something we should aspire to.

    Let the thing play out. Ultimately, there may be serious offenses found here. But you’re way ahead of yourself and the law.

  26. Ed Myers

    Do you guys know anything about email systems? I’ve run my own email server. What Hillary did is what I would have done in that situation. I’d never trust government contractor IT to protect mail privacy.

    Every email with government value would have a CC to someone with a .gov email address. All emails with .gov address can be easily retrieved via FOIA. Having a separate server helps keep personal email from getting swept up in FOIAable disclosure, but doesn’t allow official email from being hidden unless Hillary was one of those types that was such a lone wolf that she never forwarded an email to someone else to respond to and never cc’d others on issues of importance.

    The complaint appears to be that she was smart enough to find a way to filter out personal email even when that personal email came through on her official email address and now there is less personal dirt available to throw in her face.

    1. I can run my own email server. I don’t but I could and have experimented with it.

  27. Kelly_3406

    Scout–conservatives also have a commitment to the rule of law. I am not particularly moved by your dislike of the term “enterprising prosecutor.” The reason this case would require such a prosecutor is that electronic records are not generally considered as property that can be stolen.

    The real question to be answered is this: Did Hillary illegally take something of great value that does not rightfully belong to her?

  28. Scout

    The question is whether any existing laws were violated. The answer won’t turn on whether the documents were “electronic” or not. The analysis would be the same if every email were a paper document typed on an IBM Selectric.

    A great deal of damage can be done to the Constitution, the Republic, and to the liberties of the citizens by “enterprising prosecutors”, Kelly. Don’t wish them on people whose politics you don’t like. They can just as easily swoop down on your friends.

  29. Kelly_3406

    Scout :
    The answer won’t turn on whether the documents were “electronic” or not. The analysis would be the same if every email were a paper document typed on an IBM Selectric.

    Exactly. You are slowly starting to catch on.

    If Hillary had physically entered a government building, removed, and then destroyed paper copies of official correspondence, there is no question that her actions would be considered illegal. For example, Oliver North was charged with and convicted of destroying government documents during Iran-Contra.

    For some reason, people want to give a pass to Hillary, because the correspondence was electronic rather than paper. There is no question that much of it was official correspondence. It will take a prosecutor who is enterprising enough to realize what the emails on her server represented: official records of correspondence by the Secretary of State.

    The removal and destruction of official government documents, whether they are electronic or not, violates existing laws. Whether or not Hillary gets away with it is an altogether different issue ……

  30. Scout

    I was responding to your comment, Kelly, that the e-nature of the documents gave rise to a need for “enterprising prosecutors.” The point is, we never need “enterprising prosecutors” and that the legal analysis doesn’t change just because the documents were in a non-paper medium.

    If Hillary typed a dozen personal notes on her Selectric and a dozen official memos on the same machine, and destroyed the personal notes after she left but sent the official memos back for archiving, there wouldn’t be a problem. To date, we don’t know that she didn’t do the equivalent of that with her emails. She and her people say that’s just what they did. There’s no evidence yet that she destroyed official documents, electronic or otherwise. At this point, you’re making that up. Maybe it will come to light that she did that. My guess is that they were pretty exact about returning the official correspondence. Where I think there is more likely a problem is that they withheld (and perhaps destroyed) a lot of documents about the Clinton Foundation on the grounds that those were “personal” correspondence. While that in itself might not be a problem legally, it could become one if it turns out that she was commingling her duties as Secretary of State with her management of the Foundation in a way that compromised her obligations to her office and that the deleted or withheld documents would reveal that. But we don’t know that yet either, do we?

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