Defense Secretary Ash Carter has finally decided he will not demote retired Gen. David Petraeus for leaking classified information to his biographer and mistress.
According to a letter sent to GOP Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Army completed its review of the situation and did not recommend any additional action against Petraeus. In early 2015, Petraeus pled guilty to mishandling classified material, at which point he was placed on probation for two years and had to pay a $100,000 fine.
Stephen C. Hedger, who serves as the principal deputy assistant secretary of Defense for legislative affairs, wrote the letter, which was obtained and reported on first by The Hill. An official at the DOD confirmed to The Hill that the letter was genuine, but otherwise refrained from offering more information.
The Daily Beast initially reported from internal sources that Carter was considering a demotion of Petraeus, despite the fact that the four-star general retired in 2011. Sources stated that the reason Carter was considering retroactive demotion was in order to keep consistent with the treatment of other senior officers. Carter wanted to communicate that no one is exempt from punishment, even if that punishment has to be made retroactively.
McCain did not react well to the news, saying that a retroactive demotion would be “manifestly unreasonable and unfair.” Other commentators, such as Judge Andrew Napolitano, said on Fox & Friends that the proposed demotion of Petraeus is “politically motivated.” For Napolitano, there are two possible interpretations of the proposal. The first is that those who talk about Benghazi will take a hit. The second is that it signals to Hillary Clinton the consequences of mishandling classified material.
In this case, the proposed punishment would have resulted in Petraeus moving down from a four-star to a three-star. This would carry several consequences. First, Petraeus might have had to pay back the difference between benefits received as a four-star and the benefits to which a three-star is entitled. His pension would have likely been reduced from $220,000 to $170,000.
But the most difficult to handle would have been the loss in status.
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