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Pentagon Will Not Discipline Petraeus

Last weekend, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter decided not to impose any further punishment on retired Army General David H. Petraeus, who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified information while CIA director, an incident stemming from an affair with his biographer.  The decision by Secretary Carter proves that not all serious lapses in judgment by Soldiers are treated equally.  At least in this case, rank certainly has its privileges.

Secretary Carter could have imposed a wide range of disciplinary measures to include demoting Petraeus from a four-star general to the last grade in which he served satisfactorily for retirement purposes.  In this case, it would have been at least a one grade reduction.  Such a move, if taken, would have reduced Petraeus’ retirement salary and been consistent with treatment of other Soldiers who committed misconduct and then subsequently retired.

In his civilian case, Petraeus received two years of probation and a $100,000 fine. To some, this may sound like an appropriate outcome.  However, a one star reduction by the Army could have reduced Petraeus’ retirement pay by $40,000 a year.  When viewed in this light, the outcome looks to be what it really was – a slap on the wrist.