The Petraeus Deal and Justice In America


I’m in a rush to get ready for a law firm seminar, so I’m going to mostly let Ken White at Popehat do my work for me, as he is very qualified to do in this case. In his comments on the David Petraeus plea deal, Ken quite appropriately raises questions of why such serious crimes as the acclaimed general and former CIA head engaged in do not warrant prison time, and he answers thusly: Petraeus is rich, famous and has powerful friends.

Ken obvious believes those aren’t good reasons, and I agree with him. Nor are the other rationalizations that the general has suffered enough, that he isn’t really a criminal, that the nation owes him, or that he is a valuable resource for the nation that we are better served by not storing behind bars.

I believe that Petraeus has less excuse for his conduct than the typical defendant, and that as a celebrity, war hero and tole model, his defiance of the law is more serious, and more deserving of punishment, than the majority of non-violent criminals who go to jail. Indeed, Petraeus had styled himself as a moral exemplar. I read yesterday—I don’t have time to find the link—that Edward Snowden’s lawyers sent a cheeky message to prosecutors that Snowden would be happy to accept a similar deal to Petraeus’s.  Exactly.

These incidents do terrible damage to the public’s trust in the justice system’s fairness, and they should. Plea deals like this, bought with lawyer fees, bias and influence, are unequivocally wrong.

19 thoughts on “The Petraeus Deal and Justice In America

  1. Spot-on analysis by Popehat, and a prime example of why people do not trust their government to administer appropriate justice to those in Petraeus’ lofty stratum. A screw-up of this nature followed by a cover-up is especially odious coming from one who is supposed to follow the creed of “Duty – Honor – Country.” In an earlier era he might have been shot, or at least done some long, hard time at Leavenworth. Misdemeanor? No time in confinement? Ridiculous.

  2. This is exactly a prime example why the government can not be trusted. This is not his first go around of being dirty…
    But again this is a prime example of our government and how they evoke justice upon a member of government on any level.
    He should have been thrown in prison.

  3. Curiosity…are all “honey-trap” victims considered misdemeanors? Had his mistress (and biographer) been a Russian spy, still a misdemeanor? Had Patton given his classified notes on the European war to his mistress, would it have been a misdemeanor? At what point does giving several notebooks full of classified materiel to someone whose sole acquaintance-ship is to be good in bed become a felony, with mandatory jail time. Sadly, I agree totally that this is a miscarriage of justice.

  4. I have slightly mixed feelings, because we don’t want to send the message that if you are otherwise of good character and then break the law you will be more severely punished than someone who’s not. I think we should encourage people coming forward, especially otherwise decent people who find themselves in over their heads and decide they can’t do this anymore.

    It’s a question, as it often is in the law of “the totality of the circumstances” where you look at everything involved before you make the call. Yes, Petraeus has a distinguished war record, including some bad injuries and personal risk.
    So did Vietnam-era ace pilot Randy Cunningham, who committed a litany of financial crimes and went to prison for it, which he deserved. Lynne Stewart, of World Trade Center Fame and icon of the left, used her status as a lawyer to aid in the commission of further crimes, and was resentenced from about 2 years to about 10 when the Second Circuit decided the District Judge had been too lenient due to her status, and she was only released from prison because she was dying.

    Now we come to this situation. It doesn’t represent an otherwise decent guy getting in over his head, and looking for a quick fix solution like Aldrich Ames, who just couldn’t manage his finances. It doesn’t even represent someone with a twisted sense of morals like Kim Philby, who passed who knows how much classified information to the USSR because that’s where his sympathies lay. Arguably it’s maybe not even on the level of a game player like Robert Hanssen of “The Breach,” or a moral glosser like Philip Agee, who was a failure on all fronts (drank to excess, spent like his wallet had no bottom, chased other men’s wives like Clinton), but suddenly claimed he’d found faith and morals by turning on everything he’d worked for and with. This was simply someone who reached the top of Achievement Mountain and thought he was untouchable…until he wasn’t.

    All of the above people paid at least some price for what they did – Ames and Hanssen went to prison, Philby and Agee died in exile under virtual house arrest. Petraeus, worse than any, is going to spend two years on probation and keep making hundreds of thousands on the lecture circuit, and maybe keep his pension too. The US Attorney on this case should be fired.

    • “chased other men’s wives like Clinton”
      “all of the above people paid at least some price for what they did”
      …. I know, you just wanted get in a hit on Hillary …

      • Would you rather I compared him to Errol Flynn, or some other slug who never grasped the concept of monogamy and seemed to think marriage was just a guaranteed minimum?

        • I’ve nothing against using Clinton’s name when it fits but his egregious actions don’t fit the list you were composing nor did he “pay a price” for them – however devoutly to be wished – that would be comparable to your better examples. As far as Flynn goes, that’s in another celebrity category of Bad, as well. The others are prime examples and proofs of your points, with which I have no argument, and made none.

          • And my apologies to you and Jack for posting inbetween your comment and Jack’s praise of it. That was rude and careless of me.

      • Hah. The left hates him. Remember, they called him “Betray Us.” I mean, come on, he’s despicable. He’s in the military. Plus he was good at winning battles. Only thing he could have done that would have been worse would have been to take math and business courses in college, instead of social science or women’s studies, and go into finance and make money. Then he would be truly reprehensible.

        • John Corzine was a supposed financial wizard who was going to turn his skills to fixing NJ’s issues, who not only failed there, but had a whole lot of other folks’ money disappear on his watch, yet the left won’t speak badly of him because he was one of their own.

  5. I don’t think it’s about the money and power. It’s just hard to punish guys who wear the title “war hero”. It takes a leader with real brass cajones. Truman did it (I didn’t fire mcarthur because he was a dumb sonofabitch. I fired him because he was a disobedient, dumb sonofabitch) , and Roosevelt managed it too with Patton (for a while, anyway).

    Our current president isn’t of that caliber.

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