back to article Licence to chill: Ex-CIA spyboss Petraeus gets probation for leaking US secrets to his mistress

General David Petraeus – the former head of US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and briefly the head of the CIA – has been sentenced to two years' probation and fined $100,000 after admitting leaking America's secrets to his lover. Married Petraeus, 62, handed over military logs containing classified material to his official …

  1. Mark 85 Silver badge

    SMH.... His sentence was expected.

    Yes, he got a slap on the wrist. It's possible that there are some other high level people looking around and saying "that could have been me" so they urged an easy sentence. If Broadwell didn't reveal anything, then maybe that's the reason. Doesn't make it right or any less serious. He violated the trust of his position for a fecking book and a lady on the side.

    From those who have been given much, much is expected. In this case, a general and CIA head. Because of his position, he should have been made an example of.

    1. Kharkov

      Re: SMH.... His sentence was expected.

      So, what's the takeaway from this?

      People at the top 'leak' things, in this case to a woman he was having sex with, to people for their own gain, to boost their ego, fatten their wallets, or, as in Petraeus' case, to keep the girl impressed and happy so that sweet, sweet love kept flowing.

      People at the bottom - Assange, Manning, Snowden - 'leak' things not for money, or power, or to keep that sweet lovin' comin', but because they are vile, horrible TRAITORS to humanity...

      And how do we punish 'leaks'? Well people at the top have fallen short of the high ideals they should have upheld, they had an unfortunate turn of events, not their fault really, so they get light sentences, a few fingers wagged in their direction, a monetary fine which, at most, will sting a bit, but not really affect them all that much and then we can all move forward, leaving this sad state of affairs behind us.


      What a fair, open and above all, even-handed system of justice we have. Makes you proud, doesn't it?

      1. fajensen Silver badge

        Re: SMH.... His sentence was expected.

        We always clean the stairs one step below the top, how it's always been done.

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: SMH.... His sentence was expected.

        That's one of those irregular verbs, isn't it?

        I give confidential security briefings.

        You leak.

        He has been charged under section 2a of the Official Secrets Act.

        1. Midnight

          Re: SMH.... His sentence was expected.

          There are a lot of those going around.

          I have an independent mind, you are an eccentric, he's gone round the twist.

      3. PoBlicious

        Re: SMH.... His sentence was expected.

        Excellent analysis.

      4. AnotherBird

        Re: SMH.... His sentence was expected.

        Those at the top were not securing large quantities of information that they had no clearance to access. It does not dismiss their irresponsibility. then passing them off to media organizations. If Petraeus was doing what Manning and Swonden did he would be in jail. The other difference is Petraeus wealth allowed him to support a better deference. Manning was provided with a very capable law, but would have been better severed if people who supported her donated more money or time.

        Petraeus, Manning, and Snowden will forever be known for the acts they have committed. Each will also be able to rehabilitated their images. Snowden's status will be tenacious until he returns to the US.

      5. Tom 13

        Re: SMH.... His sentence was expected.

        Petraeus's leak isn't in the same league as Assange, Manning, or Snowden. They all published the classified information to KNOWN enemies of the state. Petraeus's mistress HAD a clearance, just not one high enough to see the documents he released to her. That's a big difference no matter how much you want to belittle it because you want to fraternize with traitors.

        Crap like this actually happens all the time. Somebody working in what's supposed to be classified puts together something and passes it to an unclassified group. Because the unclassified group actually needs the information it isn't seen as a problem until somebody with a clear head looks at it and says "I don't think that should have been released in this format." At which point it becomes a major PITA for a whole bunch of people who didn't do anything wrong.

        Petraeus deserves the fine because he was supposed to be one of the people with a clear head. Probably a bit more but justice isn't always fair. But he's not a traitor like your three heroes.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: SMH.... His sentence was expected.

      He violated the trust of his position for a fecking book and a lady on the side.

      There - fixed that up for you.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: SMH.... His sentence was expected.

        She was no lady she was his mistress (and a journalist)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: SMH.... His sentence was expected.

        Is it the mistress, journalist or a lady at fault?

  2. Mark 85 Silver badge


    As an aside, the troops under him in Iraq and Afghanistan, called him "Betrayus". Of the ones I know, they're not saying why he got that nickname. I wonder what they knew...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nickname?

      Probably because some of the minions who were torturing people in Iraq got busted good and proper, while the general(s) overseeing the "anti-terror effort" got promoted out of the area.

    2. Tom 13

      Re: Nickname?

      You need to stop getting your talking points from the DNC website. They're the ones who started that lie and only after he was picked by W to lead the war effort. Which he successfully did, but you don't want to admit that either.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Nickname?

        Try reading what I wrote instead of accusing everyone of being Dems.... I heard from troops who served under him not some silly ass website or TV News.

  3. Terry Cloth

    Also cf. Aaron Swartz


  4. Spaceman Spiff

    This just so sucks! Petraeus should be the one facing 35 to life in prison, and Manning should get whistle blower protections (if we had any).

  5. HildyJ Silver badge

    This is America where the people on top can do what they please and the whistle blowers are persecuted and prosecuted. The article didn't mention that Jill Kelley, whose complaint led to this coming to light, was subjected to illegal searches of her emails and "leaks" of false, damaging information by government officials to their press lapdogs. Ms. Kelley is currently suing the government but you can guess how that will go. Meanwhile, Petraeus is sitting pretty, raking in millions at a hedge fund.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I don't know what was worse...sharing secrets, having an affair with a bunny-boiler* whilst holding what must surely have been the uber-est of security clearances, or using fscking Gmail to do it. Gmail! Ferchrissakes!

    He should have been sent down for a meaningful stretch in the slammer, like 5 years.

    *Lest one be accused of chauvinism, let me remind the reader that this all came to light because Mrs. Broadwell was making death threats to Mrs. Kelley. I believe that qualifies.

  7. mantavani

    Bernard was right

    Reminds me of that Yes, Prime Minister sketch - in the immortal words of Bernard Wooley: "that's another of those irregular verbs, isn't it? *I* give confidential press briefings; *you* leak; *he's* been charged under section 2A of the Official Secrets Act."

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Bernard was right

      I remain astounded at how well 'Yes [Prime] Minister' nailed it - and that it all remains so apt after all these years.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Yes [Prime] Minister nailed it

        That is because Yes Minister was not a comedy show, it is a documentary.

        There is no part of politics that this series left untouched, and every single thing they said in it is valid for all time until the end of the Universe, because the people who made that series touched on the fundamental behavior of the human soul which will never change.

        God Bless them.

        Now I've got to go and watch it again.

  8. mhenriday
    Thumb Down

    Justice is blind ?

    Perhaps, but, it would seem, only in that she regularly closes her eyes to abuses by the powerful, while turning a basilisk stare towards the lowly. Compare, e g, the fates of David Howell Petraeus and Chelsea Elizabeth Manning....


    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Justice is blind ?

        Ahh a second world war Japanese experience?

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. x 7

    I wonder what Mandy Rice-Davies would say about him

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. Bernard M. Orwell

    Ladies and Gentlemen...

    ....Please be upstanding and give your applause to Matt Bryant who will now materialise and explain to all of us why and how this was a fair and reasonable judgment completely within the bounds of law and why everyone except Patreus got a harsher treatment than the very stern finger wag he was subject to....

    Come along MB, lets hear it.

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: Ladies and Gentlemen...

      The sound of silence speaks loudly, doesn't it?

      1. Bernard M. Orwell

        Re: Ladies and Gentlemen...

        To be fair, it *may* be that he has replied and had his post removed. Perhaps when he learns to post like an adult, we might actually get to see his words of wisdom again.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ladies and Gentlemen...

      Worse might be to see MB or some of the many others who rant about state secrets in these forums come here now to beat their chests and claim loudly, after the fact "Of course this man should have been punished as befits all a traitorous whistleblower, damn them all, and I'm very, very sincere on this point, really I am."

      1. x 7

        Re: Ladies and Gentlemen...

        If you managed to read my earlier post in this thread (before the mods zapped it) I think he should have got around three years, loss of honours and removal of pension. I don't regard what he did in the same category as Bradley Manning. Manning's crime was deliberate release of classified documents in such a way as to create a severe security risk, breach OpSec and theaten lives. Petreaus's crime was more on the lines of lack of judgement: total cessation of normal brain function when given a chance to get his willy wet. However there was no intent to release documents into the public arena or to an enemy. The documents were passed to someone who also had security clearance - though nowhere near good enough. But there was never a threat of leakage.

        Making comparisons is always hard, but I'd rank Manning alongside Philby in terms of damage done, while Petreaus is more of the category of Profumo - especially given that both Profumo and Petreaus's major error was that of lying to Government / Parliament when found out. The fact of the deceit was in both cases what made them unsuitable for public office

    3. Tom 13

      Re: Ladies and Gentlemen...

      For the very good reason that Patreus's offense was spillage whereas theirs was deliberate treason. Patreus told someone who had a lower clearance, they told sworn enemies. Patreus leaked a small amount of information, they leaked TBs of data. They appreciably harmed our defense posture. There is no indication the Patreus spillage went beyond his mistress/biographer.

  12. Brian Allan 1

    But he's a General...

    What do you expect in terms of punishment? He's a General. If he was a private, he'd be in jail for YEARS! Power and contacts can be USED in cases like this...

  13. Stevie Silver badge


    Seems fair.

    After all Petraeus is a general and a red-blooded hetero one at that, one of "the lads", and Manning is a private who had a yucky sex-change and now wants to be called "Chelsea" instead of his real, God-given name.

  14. AnotherBird

    There are significant differences between the two cases. To some they want to make similarities were no existed. Petraeus was very irresponsible for allowing an individual without proper security clearance to get access to classified documents, and showed a lack of judgment. This is further compounded that he was have an extra-maritall affair a relationship with that individual. It was his own documents that he provided to that individual.

    1. Stevie Silver badge

      There are significant differences

      Yes. A general should be under no illusion as to where his loyalties lie.

      I'm not excusing what Manning did. I just don't believe we should do so for the good General - who, of all people in that theater of war, should have understood the possible consequences of his actions.

      How come he isn't cooling his heels in a cell?

      1. Tom 13

        Re: How come he isn't cooling his heels in a cell?

        For the very good reason that he unlike your heroes, did not commit treason, which is the INTENTIONAL disclosure of state secrets to an ENEMY.

        1. Bernard M. Orwell

          Re: How come he isn't cooling his heels in a cell?

          The Daily Telegraph and Wikileaks are not, to my knowledge, nor have ever been, listed enemies of your state.

          The accusation against them is that they published openly and thus allowed known enemies to read the documents in question.

          What garuantee is there that patraeus' bit on the side didn't/wouldn't do the same thing, even inadvertently?

          If manning committed treason, so did patreaus. The difference is his social status, nothing more.

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