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Thread: General Petraeus being charged under same law as E. Snowden?

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    General Petraeus being charged under same law as E. Snowden?

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    General Petreaus is being charged for leaking classified information, under the same 1917 espionage law for which Snowden is/will be charged.

    Original Article from NY Times. What follows is an editorial about it:

    Former CIA Director May Face Charges Under Espionage Act, Showing How Ridiculous Espionage Act Is
    from the will-it-happen? dept
    In a surprising development, the New York Times reported late Friday that the FBI and Justice Department have recommended felony charges against ex-CIA director David Petraeus for leaking classified information to his former biographer and mistress Paula Broadwell. While the Times does not specify, the most likely law prosecutors would charge Petraeus under is the same as Edward Snowden and many other leakers: the 1917 Espionage Act.
    It remains to be seen whether Petraeus will actually be indicted (given how high-ranking government officials so often escape punishment), and the decision now sits on Attorney General Eric Holder's desk. But this is a fascinating and important case for several reasons.
    First, all of Petreaus's powerful D.C. friends and allies are about to be shocked to find out how seriously unjust the Espionage Act is—a fact that has been all too real for many low-level whistleblowers for years.
    By all accounts, Petraeus's leak caused no damage to US national security. "So why is he being charged," his powerful friends will surely ask. Well, that does not matter under the Espionage Act. Even if your leak caused no national security damage at all, you can still be charged, and you can't argue otherwise as a defense at trial. If that sounds like it can't be true, ask former State Department official Stephen Kim, who is now serving a prison sentence for leaking to Fox News reporter James Rosen. The judge in his case ruled that prosecutors did not have to prove his leak harmed national security in order to be found guilty.
    It doesn't matter what Petraeus's motive for leaking was either. While most felonies require mens rea (an intentional state of mind) for a crime to have occurred, under the Espionage Act this is not required. It doesn't matter that Petraeus is not an actual spy. It also doesn't matter if Petraeus leaked the information by accident, or whether he leaked it to better inform the public, or even whether he leaked it to stop a terrorist attack. It's still technically a crime, and his motive for leaking cannot be brought up at trial as a defense.
    This may seem grossly unfair (and it is!), but remember, as prosecutors themselves apparently have been arguing in private about Petraeus's case: "lower-ranking officials had been prosecuted for far less." Under the Obama administration, more sources of reporters have been prosecuted under the Espionage Act than all other administrations combined, and many have been sentenced to jail for leaks that should have never risen to the level of a criminal indictment.
    Ultimately, no one should be charged with espionage when they didn't commit espionage, but if prosecutors are going to use the heinous Espionage Act to charge leakers, they should at least do it fairly and across the board—no matter one's rank in the military or position in the government. So in one sense, this development is a welcome one.
    For years, the Espionage Act prosecutions have only been for low-level officials, while the heads of federal agencies leak with impunity. For example, current CIA director John Brennan, former CIA director Leon Panetta, and former CIA general counsel John Rizzo are just three of many high-ranking government officials who have gotten off with little to no punishment despite the fact we know they've leaked information to the media that the government considers classified.
    So hopefully Eric Holder does the right thing and indicts Petreaus like he has so many others with far fewer powerful connections. As Petraeus himself once said after CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou was convicted for leaking: "There are indeed consequences for those who believe the are above the laws."
    But if Petraeus does get indicted, perhaps we should start a new campaign: "Save David Petreaus! Repeal the Espionage Act!"
    Republished from Freedom of the Press Foundation
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    IANAL, but he did intend to leak the info, didn't he? It isn't like he accidentally left his computer open and someone read secret info while he was away. He intentionally disclosed the info. Yes? So in his case, there was mens rea, even if the law doesn't require it. But even that I'm not sure about. has this law been broken if someone accidentally leaves a secret file out on a counter somewhere? That would be a case where there is no intent to leak info. Not meaning to cause harm but still meaning to share info one knows is classified seems very much like intent to me. It's intent to share secret info with people who shouldn't have it.

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    leaking classified information is leaking classified information. you sign forms when you receive a clearance saying you won't talk about what you hear/ read outside of specially designated areas...they do deserve to be tried under the same law because they did the same thing; whether it was to look cool and sexy or if it was for what one thought was the better good its still leaking and still treason.

    Villanelle, as for the leaving classified info on a counter and someone else reads it there is really little reason to have classified information outside of a SCIF so having it outside is likely to be a security violation and could result in the same charges and if you did have permission to have it outside if someone else can open it and read it it isn't properly wrapped/stored so the same issue applies
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    Do you two believe he should get the same sentence as manning?
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleMsSunshine View Post
    I think it's really funny when people come on here, and automatically assume that everyone here is a gung-ho, hoo-rah, i-bleed-red-white-and-blue, kiss-my-military-ass, people-in-uniform-can-do-no-wrong, and i'm-entitled-to-everything bitch.
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    #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Guynavywife View Post
    Do you two believe he should get the same sentence as manning?
    IMHO yes he did the same thing...he shouldn't get preferential treatment because of his rank/position. Part of me thinks his punishment should be harsher than other because he's supposed to be setting the example IMO for other clearance holders. Just because what he leaked may not seem huge to national security doesn't mean it doesn't have some sort of implication rather it be ruining a case or burning a source...the information isn't always whats being protected
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guynavywife View Post
    Do you two believe he should get the same sentence as manning?
    Do I think he should serve 35 years in prison? No. But the same conviction with a different sentence? Maybe.

    I'm trying to understand how they can claim there was no intent. That seems like a misleading semantics game. He was fully aware he was sharing classified info, which seems very much like intent, so the claim that there wasn't intent rings false to me.

    It seems to me that ideally there would be different levels of the law, a bit like murder, with damage being done (or even intent to do damage) being the relevant distinction. That would be ideal, I think. But it's not the way the law is written. So I'd imagine intent and damage, or lack thereof, would come in to play during sentencing. Depending on the range of possible sentence lengths for this, maybe that's enough. And while I couldn't find specifics in a quick search, it does seem like all these things are taken in to account.

    Source
    Espionage sentencing guidelines are especially complex. Espionage cases are evaluated on the basis of a point level, with each different type of offense having a “Base Offense Level.” The authorities calculate various factors in order to develop a total point level that informs the sentence. For example, transmitting national defense information to aid a foreign government has a base offense level of 37, or 42 if the information is considered Top Secret.
    Science always wins over bullshit. ~Dick Rutkowski

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