U.S. prosecutors are looking to put retired Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright behind bars for two years for lying to the FBI during a classified info investigation.
Cartwright, who served as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and was known as President Barack Obama’s favorite general, answered reporters’ questions about the Stuxnet worm in such a way that divulged classified information. He then lied to the FBI about doing so, which led to Cartwright pleading guilty in October and also to prosecutors now seeking a jail sentence of two years, The Washington Post reports.
For prosecutor Leo J. Wise, the point of the two-year sentence is to send a message of deterrence.
“This was not a mistake or an error in judgment,” Wise argued. People “entrusted with highly sensitive classified information . . . must understand that disclosing such information to persons not authorized to receive it has severe consequences.”
Cartwright wants a year of probation and has also filed a pardon request for the Department of Justice. Prosecution wants a jail sentence, not even of the maximum amount of five years, but only two years. The normal sentencing guideline, however, ranges anywhere from probation to six months in jail.
The original controversy dates back to New York Times reporter David E. Sanger’s book on the Stuxnet worm and the Americans and Israelis together using the worm to sabotage Iranian nuclear ambitions. The FBI pointed to Cartwright as a possible source for Sanger’s book that provided careful details about the operation. Cartwright’s crucial mistake was when he lied to agents on Nov. 2, 2013, about speaking to journalists. After agents confronted Cartwright with information confirming discussions between himself and the press, he reportedly began slurring his speech before collapsing unconscious.
Sanger has written a letter in support of Cartwright’s defense, saying that Cartwright talked to Sanger out of noble motivations.
“Far from harming U.S. interests, his interview contributed to my efforts to provide the public with a comprehensive account of a critical new element of the American use of force, while trying to avoid harming future operations,” Sanger wrote in a December letter, according to Politico. “I have no doubt he was trying to act in the best interests of the United States.”
U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon has already postponed sentencing from Jan. 17 to Jan. 31, which is after the Obama administration’s exit, making way for the incoming Trump administration.