News & Politics

Pentagon Pondering Stripping Petraeus of Fourth Star

David Petraeus Photo by: Axel Schmidt, AP

Sure, let’s keep punishing him.

The Pentagon is considering retroactively demoting retired Gen. David Petraeus after he admitted to giving classified information to his biographer and mistress while he was still in uniform, three people with knowledge of the matter told The Daily Beast.

The decision now rests with Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, who is said to be willing to consider overruling an earlier recommendation by the Army that Petraeus not have his rank reduced. Such a demotion could cost the storied general hundreds of thousands of dollars—and deal an additional blow to his once-pristine reputation.

“The secretary is considering going in a different direction” from the Army, a defense official told The Daily Beast, because he wants to be consistent in his treatment of senior officers who engage in misconduct and to send a message that even men of Petraeus’s fame and esteemed reputation are not immune to punishment.

No one is condoning what Petraeus did, and there probably is a lively discussion to be had about whether all of the great in one’s career outweighs something monumentally stupid. Still, what he eventually pleaded guilty to was similar to what Mrs. Bill did with her emails and she may be rewarded with the highest office in the land.

If Sec. Carter wants to make an example of Petraeus and bring him back into the news, it would behoove the GOP candidates to occasionally take a break from the intra-party primary arguments necessary at this point and begin saying, “What about her!” very loudly.

At the very least, it would be as if Petraeus were being singled out should the demotion take place:

The Army received the information from the FBI that prompted this new review more than four years after Petraeus had retired. The Defense Department was also running its own investigation into Petraeus’s relationship with Broadwell and what classified information he gave her at the same time the FBI and federal prosecutors were pursuing their case. That may explain why the Army decided it had seen nothing new in the information it received last year from the FBI and decided not to recommend a demotion.

But Carter is said to be concerned that because he has recommended other generals be reduced in rank for actions not becoming an officer, he’ll be seen as inconsistent if he doesn’t do the same for Petraeus. The decision is as much about timing and politics as it is Petraeus’s own transgressions.

“This is about Ash Carter, not David Petraeus,” the defense official said.

Again, perhaps the extraordinary service given to his country should be considered. Petraeus has already suffered damage to his legacy and reputation, even though it doesn’t seem to have hurt him financially.