The Virtual Immunity Of The Well-Connected: Gen. Petraeus Edition

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Ray McGovern via Consortium News,

The leniency shown former CIA Director (and retired General) David Petraeus by the Justice Department in sparing him prison time for the serious crimes that he has committed puts him in the same preferential, immune-from-incarceration category as those running the financial institutions of Wall Street, where, incidentally, Petraeus now makes millions. By contrast, “lesser” folks – and particularly the brave men and women who disclose government crimes – get to serve time, even decades, in jail.

Petraeus is now a partner at KKR, a firm specializing in large leveraged buyouts, and his hand-slap guilty plea to a misdemeanor for mishandling government secrets should not interfere with his continued service at the firm. KKR’s founders originally worked at Bear Stearns, the institution that failed in early 2008 at the beginning of the meltdown of the investment banking industry later that year.

Gen. David Petraeus in a photo with his biographer/mistress Paula Broadwell.

Despite manifestly corrupt practices like those of subprime mortgage lenders, none of those responsible went to jail after the 2008-09 financial collapse which cost millions of Americans their jobs and homes. The bailed-out banks were judged “too big to fail” and the bankers “too big to jail.”

Two years ago, in a highly revealing slip of the tongue, Attorney General Eric Holder explained to Congress that it can “become difficult” to prosecute major financial institutions because they are so large that a criminal charge could pose a threat to the economy – or perhaps what he meant was an even bigger threat to the economy.

Holder tried to walk back his unintended slip into honesty a year later, claiming, “There is no such thing as ‘too big to jail.’” And this bromide was dutifully echoed by Holder’s successor, Loretta Lynch, at her confirmation hearing in late January.

Words, though, are cheap. The proof is in the pudding. It remains true that not one of the crooked bankers or investment advisers who inflicted untold misery on ordinary people, gambling away much of their life savings, has been jailed. Not one.

And now Petraeus, who gave his biographer/mistress access to some of the nation’s most sensitive secrets and then lied about it to the FBI, has also been shown to be too big to jail. Perhaps Holder decided it would be a gentlemanly thing to do on his way out of office – to take this awkward issue off Lynch’s initial to-do list and spare her the embarrassment of demonstrating once again that equality under the law has become a mirage; that not only big banks, but also big shots like Petraeus – who was Official Washington’s most beloved general before becoming CIA director – are, in fact, too big to jail.

It strikes me, in a way, as fitting that even on his way out the door, Eric Holder would not miss the opportunity to demonstrate his propensity for giving hypocrisy a bad name.

A Slap on Wrist for Serious Crimes

The Justice Department let David Petraeus cop a plea after requiring him to admit that he had shared with his biographer/mistress eight black notebooks containing highly classified information and then lied about it to FBI investigators. Serious crimes? The following quotes are excerpted from “U.S. v. David Howell Petraeus: Factual Basis in support of the Plea Agreement” offered by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, Charlotte Division:

“17. During his tenure as Commander of ISAF in Afghanistan, defendant DAVID HOWELL PETRAEUS maintained bound, five-by-eight-inch notebooks that contained his daily schedule and classified and unclassified notes he took during official meetings, conferences, and briefings. … A total of eight such books (hereinafter the “Black Books”) encompassed the period of defendant DAVID HOWELL PETRAEUS’S ISAF [Afghanistan] command and collectively contained classified 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 defendant DAVID HOWELL PETRAEUS’s discussions with the President of the United States of America. [emphasis added]


“18. The Black Books contained national defense information, including Top Secret//SCI and code word information.”

Despite the sensitivity of the notebooks and existing law and regulations, Petraeus did not surrender them to proper custody when he returned to the U.S. after being nominated to become the Director of the CIA. According to the Court’s “Factual Basis,” Petraeus’s biographer/mistress recorded a conversation of Aug. 4, 2011, in which she asks about the “Black Books.” The Court statement continues:

“ [Petraeus] ‘Umm, well, they’re really – I mean they are highly classified, some of them.  … I mean there’s code word stuff in there.’ … On or about August 27, 2011, defendant DAVID HOWELL PETRAEUS sent an email to his biographer in which he agreed to provide the Black Books to his biographer. … On or about August 28, 2011, defendant DAVID HOWEL PETRAEUS delivered the Black Books to a private residence in Washington, D.C. where his biographer was staying. … On or about September 1, 2011, defendant DAVID HOWELL PETRAEUS retrieved the Black Books from the D.C. private residence and returned them to his own Arlington, Virginia home.” [emphasis added]

I would think it a safe guess that Petraeus’s timing can be attributed to his awareness that his privacy and freedom of movement was about to be greatly diminished, once his CIA personal security detail started keeping close track of him from his first day on the job as CIA Director, Sept. 6, 2011.

“32. On or about October 26, 2012, defendant DAVID HOWELL PETRAEUS was interviewed by two FBI special agents. … [He] was advised that the special agents were conducting a criminal investigation. … PETRAEUS stated that (a) he had never provided any classified information to his biographer, and (b) he had never facilitated the provision of classified information to his biographer. These statements were false. Defendant DAVID HOWELL PETRAEUS then and there knew that he previously shared the Black Books with his biographer.” [emphasis added]

Lying to the FBI? No problem. As “Expose Facts” blogger Marcy Wheeler immediately commented: “For lying to the FBI – a crime that others go to prison for for months and years – Petraeus will just get a two point enhancement on his sentencing guidelines. The Department of Justice basically completely wiped out the crime of covering up his crime of leaking some of the country’s most sensitive secrets to his mistress.” [emphasis added]

Talk about “prosecutorial discretion” or, in this case, indiscretion – giving Petraeus a fine and probation but no felony conviction or prison time for what he did! Lesser lights are not so fortunate. Just ask Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning who is serving a 35-year prison sentence for disclosing information to the public about U.S. war crimes and other abuses. Or Edward Snowden, who is stuck in Russia facing a U.S. indictment on espionage charges for informing the people about pervasive and unconstitutional U.S. government surveillance of common citizens.

Or former CIA officer John Kiriakou who was sent to prison for inadvertently revealing the name of one Agency official cognizant of CIA torture. Here’s what Neil MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said then: “The government has a vital interest in protecting the identities of those involved in covert operations. Leaks of highly sensitive, closely held and classified information compromise national security and can put individual lives in danger.”

When, on Oct. 23, 2012, Kiriakou acquiesced to a plea deal requiring two-and-a-half years in federal prison, then CIA Director Petraeus sent a sanctimonious Memorandum to Agency employees applauding Kiriakou’s conviction and noting, “It marks an important victory for our agency …  there are indeed consequences for those who believe they are above the laws that protect our fellow officers and enable American intelligence agencies to operate with the requisite degree of secrecy.” [emphasis added]

Consequences for Kiriakou but not, as we now know, for Petraeus.

If you feel no discomfort at this selective application of the law, you might wish to scroll or page back to the “Factual Basis” for Petraeus’s Plea Agreement and be reminded that it was just three days after his lecture to CIA employees about the sanctity of protecting the identity of covert agents that Petraeus lied to FBI investigators – on Oct. 26, 2012 – about his sharing such details with his mistress.

Why Did Petraeus Do It?

Old soldiers like Petraeus (indeed, most aging but still ambitious men) have been known to end up doing self-destructive things by letting themselves be flattered by the attentions of younger women. This may offer a partial explanation – human weakness even in a self-styled larger-than-life super-Mensch. But I see the motivation as mostly vainglory. (The two are not mutually exclusive, of course.)

Looking back at Petraeus’s record of overweening ambition, it seems likely he was motivated first and foremost by a desire to ensure that his biographer would be able to extract from the notebooks some juicy morsels he may not have remembered to tell her about. This might enhance his profile as Warrior-Scholar-“King David,” the image that he has assiduously cultivated and promoted, with the help of an adulating neocon-dominated media.

Petraeus’s presidential ambitions have been an open secret. And with his copping a plea to a misdemeanor, his “rehabilitation” seems to have already begun. He has told friends that he would like to serve again in government and they immediately relayed that bright hope to the media.

Sen. John McCain was quick to call the whole matter “closed.” A strong supporter of Petraeus, McCain added this fulsome praise: “At a time of grave security challenges around the world, I hope that General Petraeus will continue to provide his outstanding service and leadership to our nation, as he has throughout his distinguished career.”

And Michael O’Hanlon, Brookings’ neocon military specialist who rarely gets anything right, spoke true to form to the New York Times: “The broader nation needs his advice, and I think it’s been evident that people still want to hear from him. … People are forgiving and I know he made a mistake. But he’s also a national hero and a national treasure.”

The “mainstream media” is trapped in its undeserved adulation for Petraeus’s “heroism.” It is virtually impossible, for example, for them to acknowledge that his ballyhooed, official-handout-based “success” in training and equipping tens of thousands of crack Iraqi troops was given the lie when those same troops ran away (the officers took helicopters) and left their weapons behind at the first sight of ISIL fighters a year ago.

Equally sham were media claims of the “success” for the “surges” of 30,000 troops sent into Iraq (2007) and 33,000 into Afghanistan (2009). Each “surge” squandered the lives of about 1,000 U.S. troops for nothing – yes, nothing – except in the case of Iraq buying time for President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney to get out of town without a clear-cut defeat hanging around their necks.

Many of the supposed successes of Petraeus’s Iraqi “surge” also predated the “surge,” including a high-tech program for killing top militants such as Al-Qaeda-in-Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and the formation of the so-called Sunni Awakening, both occurring in 2006 under the previous field commanders. And, Bush’s principal goal of the “surge” – to create political space for a fuller Sunni-Shiite reconciliation – was never accomplished. [See’s “The Surge Myth’s Deadly Result.”]

And last, it is important to note that David Petraeus does not have a corner on the above-the-law attitudes and behavior of previous directors of the CIA. The kid-gloves treatment he has been accorded, however, will increase chances that future directors will feel they can misbehave seriously and suffer no serious personal consequence.

The virtual immunity enjoyed by the well connected – even when they lie to the FBI or tell whoppers in sworn testimony to Congress (as Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has done) – feeds the propensity to prioritize one’s own personal ambition and to delegate a back seat to legitimate national security concerns – even basic things like giving required protection to properly classified information, including the identity of covert officers.

One might call this all-too-common syndrome Self-Aggrandizing Dismissiveness (SAD). Sadly, Petraeus is merely the latest exemplar of the SAD syndrome. The unbridled ambitions of some of his predecessors at CIA – the arrogant John Deutch, for example – have been equally noxious and destructive. But we’ll leave that for the next chapter.

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Stuck on Zero's picture

Wasn't he really just the top cop?

wolfnipplechips's picture

And this is news? You only get to that level by licking some ballz!

I think, anyway...

J S Bach's picture

That picture says it all.  Meet Mr. Duffus and Ms. Duffette.

LetThemEatRand's picture

So Snowden gives up some secrets to save America and he's wanted for treason.  This guy gives up some secrets for pussy and he's wanted for high paid speeches.  Got it.

0b1knob's picture

Serious crimes???????

He banged a bimbo reporter.  

NoDebt's picture

Hillary Clinton sold government favors to foreign and domestic interests for cash (and still does) and ran her own personal email system WHILE SECRETARY OF STATE, completely against proscribed laws for all government officials.  And for this her punishment is being the next President of the United States.  So before we talk about how some general "got off light" on the sliding scale of justice, let's not lose track of what heppens at the REAL upper end of the power spectrum.


usednabused's picture

Is that what its about? Start at the top and don't say anything about any 'lesser' crime? Well then fucker, do tell me just what all the cops are doing on the beat then? Aftter all, surely anyone they mess with , shoot or convict is much lower on the scale than Clitnon or betrayus. SO before we prosecute any crime at all, lets fix it from the top down ok? I know you really didn't mean that though, you just decided to show us how fucking stupid you were.

wee-weed up's picture



Methinks the light punishment imposed on Petraeus probably involved an "under-the-table" agreement that says if he ever writes a tell-all book... he will immediately be sent to jail - where he will be quickly stabbed to death by a TBTF/Admin-paid stooge.

Remember, he knows all the juicy details of both Obozo & Hitlery's failings during the Benghazi fiasco, among many other "dirty" deeds.

He can NEVER be allowed to spill the beans...

y3maxx's picture

...Middle Class America's best friend and ally will soon expose all the corrupt, fascist underdealings in Washington and New York.


Oh regional Indian's picture

Haaahaaa.....look at the two of them.....him a dried up prune....ugh!

At least he can say he was brought down by a Broad and no one will think he is sexist :-)

Meanwhile, some mo muzic...

Dick Gazinia's picture

She might be a little rough in the face but I bet she is great in bed.  She has those crazy eyes.

CH1's picture

So long as the serfs keep obeying, privilege will remain.

tjeffersonsghost's picture

I'd bang her, look at the size of those tits.

Shad_ow's picture

You got that right,  If you pay attention you have seen he is still licking Obama's feet.

SheHunter's picture

Uh Huh.  el bingo weed-up.

SoDamnMad's picture

we-weed up

Take it abit further. What WERE these classified documents he gave the bimbo. You know a lot of shit paper gets stamped TOP SECRET and CLASSIFIED when it is really insensitive junk.  Petraeus was taken down YES because he knew too much about Benghazi and Hitlery.

Sandy Berger stole stuff out of the Clinton archives and got less of a punishment. Bill lied to the American people on TV about oral sex from an intern and got zip.  Jon Corzine stole billions and got zip.  Ted Kennedy Sr drown Mary Jo Kopechne at Chappaquiddick and got zip.

Now the secret leaders are purging the military of seasoned officers and NCOs when the world is in chaos.  So screw a good general and you can go fight the next war(s).

Budd aka Sidewinder's picture


If I go down (not speaking of SiloPussy) I'm taking the rest of you fuckers with me defense

weburke's picture

cmon, the writer here is flat out lying in addition to ignoring other realities stareing him in the face. 

Frank N. Beans's picture

It's harder to take down people at the upper echelons partly because of whom they know and what they know about them and also because they've got friends in high places. So yeah, the law doesn't apply to same to them.

Karl-Hungus's picture

thats how it works these days. Its important that this get whitewashed as quickly as possible so he gets his 'turn' at being president after hillary is done with her 'turn'.


"Rules for thee, but not for me"

ebworthen's picture

General "Betrayus" strikes again!

Bradley (Chelsea) Manning gets life in prison for exposing war crimes and the rape of the 4th Amendment by his own military yet General Turd gets a slap on the wrist.  Bet Betrayus and Corzine have lunch on the campaign trail; catered of course.

The U.S.A. has lost it's soul; what a travesty!

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

You could say "He knows secrets and where the bodies are buried".

As a former "somebody", who's willing to play ball, he got to deal himself into the Game.  It's the American way.

daveO's picture

She's what they used to call the 'honey pot'. He was only brought up on charges for intimidation purposes. To silence 'folks' and to keep him out of politics. She was a military intelligence officer.

Jumbotron's picture

Edward Snowden can now use this case as precidence in his defense.


Oh...wait...right.  He didn't have enough "bars" on his sleeve...nor a top position in a hedge fund.  Never mind, Ed...stay in Russia.


One Eyed Jack's picture

No, that position is the head of the justice Department

Bangin7GramRocks's picture

National Treasure??!!!!! Those Neo-con boot lickers are bigger fanboys than a fat guy at ComicCon. When did Petraeus take a hill or kill an entire batallion of the enemy? That fucking fucker is fucking fucked!

Grinder74's picture

I'd tap that Broad really Well.

Eireann go Brach's picture

Let's put the Cankle Clinton in as president and keep the donkey Obongo on as VP, that will fix the US!

Osmium's picture

I don't see it.  She must give good head or sumthin.

cynicalskeptic's picture

You have to compare her to his wife.

He married the commandant's daughter at West Point.  The mistress is a definite improvement.   He'd have been in far hotter water if his father in law was still alive.  


I still think some insiders at the CIA didn't want Petraeus running things.

papa_lazarou's picture

Whoa! First Bruce Jenner, now Newt Gingrich is a tranny?! Next thing you know, they'll be telling us Michelle Obama is a woman. What a world!

One Eyed Jack's picture

That's Mike Sotero to you MR.

daveO's picture

I still think some insiders at the CIA didn't want Petraeus running things.

pachanguero's picture

Pure evil willing to sell America to the NWO.  Scum!

ChanceIs's picture

Some have compared Petraeus' "crimes" to those of Hillary.  I think the comparison has merit.  We know that Petraeus leaked info - if even to a less than damaging recipient.   We cn only suspect that Hillary leaked a ton of info to entities which actively wish the US harm.  It seems that even Obama's emails have been hacked.

So the question remains, if Petraeus was prosecuted - even if only given a slap on the wrist, wont Hillary get the same.  If she gets the same, will that be the end of her presidential apirations - you know - a convicted felon becomig Prez?  I am sure that obstacle can be overcome.

I can't stand this BS.  It has neve been this bad before.  All of those Iraqis we trained to fight for iraq turned tail and ran when ISIS showed up.  Why should thy fight to defend Iraq when nobody knew what Iraq was?  So why would anybody want o join the American armed forces and fight for.......

Beowulf55's picture

I can't stand this BS.  It has neve been this bad before.  All of those Iraqis we trained to fight for iraq turned tail and ran when ISIS showed up.


I take it you can't remember a place called Vietnam.

GeezerGeek's picture

Perhaps I'm not remembering correctly, but I think the fall of South Vietnam occurred after the US decided to reduce or eliminate military aid to that government. ARVN had little choice but to turn tail and run when the bullets ran out. can be dangerous, even fatal, to be 'backed' by the USA.

As always, the losers are screwed. At least those Iraqis fighting against ISIS can run toward Iran as a last (or first?) resort. The Vietnamese losers had to become boat people to escape.

Buckaroo Banzai's picture

Petraeus was obviously set up. His punishment was to lose his job, which was the whole point of the exercise. Calling him "immune" from punishment is thus misleading at best, and dangerously confused at worst.

There are many, many better examples of a justice system run amok than Gen. Petraeus.

Theta_Burn's picture

Preferential treatment..

IDK, the way they took the General out looks more like hanging him out to dry to me...

I wonder how Hillary and Corzine feel about this?

Bay of Pigs's picture

Look at Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers proving the US gov't violates the Constitution and Bill of Rights 24/7/365 days a year.

The country ran off the rails a long time ago...

besnook's picture

patraeus had to go down for dare testifying on the record in front of congress that israel is the number one existential threat to usa interests in the mid east not just in the "perceived" one sided interests of the usa vis a vis palestine but also being more interested in israeli interests to the exclusion of usa interests, in other words, an unreliable partner(this was specifically related to mossad agents posing as cia agents without the knowledge of the cia).

the honey pot was hatched. whatever happened to the israeli hero? idd she have the symbolic blue dress with cum on it ?

patraeus is an american hero.

Theta_Burn's picture

He was well liked by all under his command as well.

Something stinks here..

besnook's picture

he was obambam's boy, too. i think his targeting was the incentive behind all the recent "retirements" across the military. obambam may have some substance after all.

Gohn Galt's picture

Petraeus sounds like 'betray us' for a reason

ali-ali-al-qomfri's picture

and the GA is named Lynch, hhhmmmm. go long on rope.

Xibalba's picture

All animals are ass.

pupdog1's picture

Some Pigtraeuses are more equal than others.

williambanzai7's picture

It's OK to sell access to secrets for profit, but not to release them freely for protecting liberty. This is where freedom crosses their line. Their freedom is not free. Better to call it Feedom

besnook's picture

patraeus had access to some serious blowback. it reminds me of a true story of a local do gooder done good by getting picked for the top cop job. the first thing he did was bust the local bookie who operated out of the local sub shop. everyone who followed sports learned about him by the time they were 16 for at least three generations. when the guy showed him some of the names on the book the case was dropped. everyone laughed. the sheriff got wised up. things went back to normal.

they messed up going after patraeus. he has another book he must have reminded them about.

chinoslims's picture

The reported needed to get inside information somehow.