David Petraeus received a slap on the wrist because he leaked classified documents to his mistress. His punishment has raised a very important question:
Surely a person’s punishment for leaking classified material should not be greater when they act for selfless reasons (however misguided) rather than personal gain. So, why do Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden get the book thrown at them and General David Petraeus is let off with a fine and a promise not to do it again?
That is a very good question and I know the answer. The reason Petraeus received a slap on the wrist whlie Manning is rotting in a cage and Snowden is in exile is because those two aren’t in the big club.
Petraeus was a high ranking member within the state and with rank comes privileges. Meanwhile Manning and Snowden were both low ranking grunts. Another difference is that Petraeus caused little damage to the state. His leaks were far more controlled and didn’t give the state as many black eyes. Manning’s leaks gave the state one hell of a black eye by exposing actual war crimes it had committed. Snowden leaked a lot of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) dirty little secrets that it relied on to spy on people and allowed the people it was spying on (you and I) to adopt better tools to help protect against it.
In this world whether you’re punished severely or not often depends on where you rank. Remember the state has a monopoly on “justice” and tends to treat its own far better than it treats us lowly proles.