Former CIA director and retired US general David Petraeus has escaped with only a couple of years’ probation and a fine for distributing highly sensitive classified information, revealing “covert operatives, the coalition war strategy and notes about Petraeus’ discussions with President Barack Obama and the National Security Council.”
Meanwhile, Edward Snowden faces multiple Espionage Act charges for releasing information that has given the global public a far better understanding of the US’ mass surveillance apparatus, an act for which he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. The US downed planes and cancelled Snowden’s passport in an effort to send him to jail. Why such an enormous disparity?
Those who release information of public interest should be celebrated, not punished. Petraeus’ “sentence” is perhaps the starkest example yet of how the powerful can break the rules they insist on for others, and do so with virtual impunity. In Obama’s war on whistleblowers, punishment is reserved for disclosures that speak truth to power, while the powerful are protected no matter what they do.