Military Connection: Double Standard in Petraeus Sentencing

May Petraeus

By Joe Silva

On April 23, 2015, former CIA Director and Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus [U.S. Army Retired] was sentenced to a fine of $100,000 and two years of probation.

As has previously reported, on March 3, 2015 General Petraeus had agreed to plead guilty to the charge of unauthorized removal and retention of classified information. An investigation conducted by the FBI found that Petraeus had, in his possession, several personal notebooks on which he had hand-written classified information during meetings and briefings, mostly from his time in the Army. The investigation also found that for a time, these notebooks were in the possession of Petraeus biographer, Paula Broadwell, a Major in the Army Reserves, with whom Petraeus was having an affair. The FBI investigators accused the general of lying to them about not having any classified data in his possession after resigning from his position as director of the CIA in November, 2012.

As part of his plea agreement, Gen. Petraeus was facing up to one year in prison. And according to court documents, a $40,000 fine was expected to be levied. Judge David Kessler found that two years of probation were sufficient, but that a fine $100,000 better reflected the seriousness of the offense.

Many news outlets have decried the sentencing, claiming that a double standard is in place. Several articles stated that the general should have faced jail time, some even desiring a sentence beyond the one year plea deal. And to these people,  I say that I absolutely agree that there IS a double standard in place.

Despite popular belief, the justice system does not necessarily exist to punish an individual for his or her transgressions. The justice system exists to keep a populace in line. So, in my opinion, there was a double standard in two areas of this case: 1). If you can afford to pay a higher fine, you can avoid jail time for many offenses.  2). Serving your country for 38 years (1974-2011 in the Army plus one year in the CIA) brought Gen. Petraeus preferential treatment. There are Veterans Courts springing up all over the country that are considering a Veteran’s service in regards to their legal issues. This, too, is a double standard, but I am not against it.

Unlike the angry mob, I personally feel that I can live with existence of these particular double standards, in the same way that I can still respectfully refer to the shamed individual as “General” and not “mister” like other articles did. But mine is just one Veteran’s opinion.

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Military Connection: Double Standard in Petraeus Sentencing: By Joe Silva