David Petraeus’ career did not end the way he had planned. He had images of running for President after being Secretary of Defense. He had it all planned out and THEN – along came an attractive woman who wanted to be his biographer. And the rest is history.
If he had stuck to just an affair with her, there would have been little risk. After all, many powerful men have had affairs. Usually, only the immediate family is hurt – and quite often they keep quiet and still “support their man.” The problem here was that he leaked classified documents to her. He also used his secured computer to send emails to non-secure sites opening the window for cyber hackers getting into the computer that sits on the desk of the Director of the C.I.A.
The original indictment said the eight black books that Petraeus gave to Paula Broadwell “collectively contained information regarding the identities 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.”
For this, he got a $100,000 fine and two years probation. Of course, his worse punishment is the humiliation he feels every time someone says, “Sorry old chap,” meaning he is washed up. He’ll make plenty of money giving speeches and doing talk shows but it is highly unlikely that he will never be Secretary of Defense or President since both require very serious security clearances. Once you are a “leaker” those clearances rarely reappear.
The excuse for the light sentence is because the information was never leaked to the public, but I also think the judge knew that incarceration would not be as much punishment as being in the public and having the embarrassment of having to face those that know what happened. If I had been the judge, the fine would have been stiffer: $1 million seems fair to me. But I’m not the judge – luckily for Petraeus.
I do not fault him for the affair – she is smart, attractive and they had a lot in common. I only blame him for forgetting his “tradecraft” and ignoring the classification rules. I wish him luck in the future – just not in any classified position. And I hope he has lost his hubris which was what got him in trouble at the beginning. A lesson for all senior officials to learn!