Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning, who revealed evidence of war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, is serving 30 years in federal prison. CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou, who stood up against agency torture, just finished a two-year prison term. Jeffrey Sterling, sentenced in a case that accused him of blowing the whistle on CIA misconduct regarding an operation of sabotage in Iran, just received a similar sentencing after being charged with disclosing secrets to a New York Times journalist. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who leaked troves of information about the U.S. government’s global dragnet, remains under ayslum protection in Russia in order to avoid federal charges under the Espionage Act.
This is just a partial list of those accused by the U.S. government of leaking classified material that are serving, or could still serve, serious sentences for their decision to leak sensitive material in the name of the public good. However, when it comes to (Ret.) General David Petraeus, who led U.S. military forces in both Afghanistan and Iraq before later serving as head of the CIA, the rules of punishment are quite different.
As newly released court documents show, when it came time for Petraeus’ criminal sentencing after pleading guilty to a “misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified information” for giving his biographer, who also happened to be his mistress, secret military documents — high-powered friends, many of whom have called for severe punishments for whistleblowers, came out of the woodwork to demand leniency.
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As Bloomberg reports:
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And Lee Fang, writing for The Intercept, which was also party to the effort to get the court documents released, adds:
The Intercept posted all 34 letters sent on Petraeus’ behalf on their website here.