Displaying Hubris, David Petraeus Slams Snowden

Stan Ward

Stan Ward

May 16, 2016

In what appears to be a case of the “pot calling the kettle black,” retired U.S. Army General, former CIA Director and Obama confidant, David Petraeus who was convicted of leaking government secrets to his lover, has deigned to opine on the Edward Snowden leaks, pressing for his prosecution. One would think that Petraeus, who avoided a felony charge, and most likely long incarceration – but who served no jail time, would have the common sense and decency to fade from the public view. Yet here he is. He must be buoyed by the public’s embrace of Donald Trump and his ride to the GOP presidential nomination, so he wants to try to stay relevant and keep alive his own political ambitions.

Speaking of politics, had Petraeus not been so well politically connected with President Obama (Hillary Clinton is also thanking Obama and her lucky stars that she has to date dodged an indictment over her email faux pas), he would be serving a lengthy prison stretch.  After a protracted three-year investigation and trial, Army Private Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for passing hundreds of thousands of classified military documents to Wikileaks. The government had been pushing for a 60-year term!

Thomas Drake was famously a government whistleblower whose life was destroyed for reporting what he saw. Surely, Petraeus crimes rose above the misdemeanour that he ultimately pleaded to, hence avoiding a felony and imprisonment or the destruction of his way of life. But, apparently, he is not humbled enough to suffer his ostracizing in silence.

The information that Petraeus divulged was so secret it defied classification, including the names of covert operatives, and the president’s private thoughts on matters of strategic concern. The information he disclosed to his lover/biographer actually had the potential to put people’s lives at risk. This is not the case with Snowden’s revelations, regardless of where you stand on his situation.  Also, his stance that Snowden should have used official channels to register his dissatisfaction with a broken apparatus similarly doesn’t hold water. A recent whistleblower, Elham Khorasani, like Drake, had her life turned upside-down by the FBI for her whistleblowing activities. And she, like Drake, but unlike Petraeus, didn’t break any laws or commit any crimes.

People forget that Snowden, as a contractor and not a direct government employee per se, did not have appropriate channels available to him for whistleblowing. His many efforts to alert superiors fell on deaf ears. Furthermore, Snowden, contrary to the government line, didn’t put any lives at risk as did David Petraeus. Moreover, while Petraeus’ actions were reckless, Edward Snowden’s actually set in motion a series of events which reigned in some government excesses and redesigned systems to protect the future privacy of ordinary systems.

President Obama is notorious for using surrogates, sycophants and proxies to deliver messages, fight fights, and basically get their hands dirty while he remains “presidential” in the shadows.  Just look at the encryption versus national security fiasco of the past year. This prodding for proceedings against Snowden appears  to be a quid-pro-quo for Petraeus getting off with essentially a slap on the wrist. In this way, the leader of the self-proclaimed “most transparent administration in history” can continue believing that canard, because the prosecution of Snowden is not popular with, nor a priority fo,r the American people at this time anti-establishment candidates for Obama’s job.


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