What happens when a CIA director discloses top-secret materials to his biographer with whom he's also having an affair? According to the Army, not much.
When military legend David H. Patraeus found himself amidst such a potentially career-ending scandal three years ago, he quickly resigned as CIA director. And following a thorough FBI investigation that concluded earlier this year, Patraeus pleaded guilty in April in (civilian) Federal court to one misdemeanor charge of 'mishandling classified materials.' In light of such, he received two years' probation and a $100,000 fine.
This past week, however, Pentagon officials announced he will face no further punishment.
Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter can still overrule the Army's recommendation and opt to discipline Petraeus under military law. After all, as part of Patraeus' plea bargain with the Justice Department, he has admitted in a signed statement that he had committed a number of wrongdoings. Specifically, Petraeus has copped to providing his biographer with 8 notebooks containing highly classified material, including code words, war strategies, covert officers' identifies, and discussion outlines between the National Security Office and President Barack Obama. Petraeus further openly admitted in the statement that he lied to FBI agents.
In spite of this, rarely do retired generals face disciple, although they still fall subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, retired or not.
Nonetheless, Petraeus remains known as an icon of heroism and reverence within the Army, having extensively served during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has also been able to preserve his many relationships with Congressional members, despite the scandal's publicity.
In the end, however, Petraeus' Congressional relationships and political allies will not determine his fate – only Secretary Carter will.