The Pentagon is looking for generals to punish. According to insiders, that may involve retroactively punishing retired Army Gen. David Petraeus with a demotion for leaking classified information to his biographer.
Three different sources reportedly spoke to The Daily Beast regarding Petraeus as a potential target for discipline. What this means is that Defense Secretary Ash Carter may soon go against an early decision by the Army and reduce Petraeus’ rank.
A demotion would carry major consequences. First, Petraeus would lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in future pay and be forced to pay back part of his pension and benefits he received while being a retired four-star general. Second, it would further tarnish his reputation in the public eye. But since Petraeus is already living a comfortable lifestyle, the blow to his reputation is likely to be much more severe and impactful, as the military only very rarely considers demotions for four-star generals.
“The Department of the Army is still in the process of providing the Secretary with information relevant to former Secretary McHugh’s recommendation,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook told The Daily Beast. “Once the Secretary has an opportunity to consider this information, he will make his decision about next steps, if any, in this matter.”
Still, the matter is not finalized. Carter may come to a separate decision which allows Petraeus to keep his current rank, or he may simply defer to the Army’s take on the matter.
Reconsidering Petraeus’ record comes at a time when the Federal Bureau of Investigation has provided the Army with new information about his poor handling of classified information. This is now reemerging almost four years after the scandal took place with his biographer and mistress Paula Broadwell. Petraeus had reportedly handed over eight notebooks containing classified information to Broadwell without clearing them for sensitive details first. After receiving questioning, Petraeus lied to investigators. Of course, the FBI soon found out the lies. He pled guilty in 2015 to a misdemeanor, at which point he accepted a two-year probation, avoided prison and paid a fine of $100,000.
“Today marks the end of a two-and-a-half-year ordeal,” Petraeus said after his sentencing, according to CNN. “I now look forward to moving on with the next phase of my life.”
That next phase may involve the Pentagon bringing old skeletons out of the closet.
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