Former CIA Director David Petraeus just got sentenced to two years of probation for leaking highly sensitive information to his mistress and then lying to the FBI about it.

Petraeus had asked to enter the court room via a backdoor, so he would not be photographed, but he was forced to enter the courthouse in the normal fashion.

As happens with big-wigs, Petraeus’ lawyer cited the 34 letters of support from other big-wigs sent on his behalf. Petraeus admitted his crimes and apologized to those he hurt.

The only “surprise” of the hearing is that, rather than getting slapped with a $40,000 fine, Judge David Keesler more than doubled the fine to send a message.

To $100,000.

According to SpeakerPedia, Petraeus makes upwards of $132,750 for each speech.

In other words, this fine, meant to be especially harsh so as to send a message about the gravity of Petraeus’ crimes, is about 75% of one speaker’s fee for Petraeus.

Investigative journalist Marcy Wheeler writes the “Right to Know” column for ExposeFacts. She is best known for providing in-depth analysis of legal documents related to “war on terrorism” programs and civil liberties. Wheeler blogs at emptywheel.net and publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit: How the Bush Administration Used the Media to Sell the Iraq War and Out a Spy. Wheeler won the 2009 Hillman Award for blog.

Reprinted with permission from ExposeFacts.

AIPAC’s AIEF Briefing Book Leaked

An American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF) briefing book (PDF) from a December 2014 congressional staff junket to Israel may be the first piece of “educational” information ever to leak out of the captive AIPAC shell organization to the public.

AIEF was incorporated in 1988 to promote a more “balanced and realistic” understanding of American interests in the Near East and within the general public and among policy-makers, academics and journalists. Although it promised the IRS in its application for tax-exempt status that “All research produced and published will be made available to the general public” AIEF has never complied. Its relatively new, single-page website contains no information on education programs.

Only on Legistorm is AIEF’s main accomplishment readily apparent: sending members of Congress and their families on all-expense paid trips to Israel – over 1,000 since the year 2001.

That no AIEF briefing books are publicly available should come as no surprise to the observant. AIEF is not functionally separate from AIPAC, a lobby for the Israeli government ever since it split off from the defunct American Zionist Council in 1962. AIEF is housed in the very same offices as AIPAC , with 66% of its board of directors drawn from AIPAC. (PDF) On annual tax charitable returns, AIEF (which raises $45 million in yearly tax-deductible donations) claims to have no employees. It doesn’t need any since according to materials accompanying the briefing book AIPAC employees like the “Grassroots and Missions Director” and “Israel Seminars Assistant” accompany travelers to Israel.

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On Thursday, David Petraeus will be sentenced in North Carolina. If all goes as his lawyers and the government have arranged, he will get a year of probation for leaking some of this country’s most sensitive secrets to his mistress.

On May 11 (the date has been postponed from this week), Jeffrey Sterling will be sentenced for – the jury decided – leaking details of the Merlin program, a CIA effort to deal flawed nuclear blueprints to Iran. In a sentencing memorandum, the government argues Sterling should be sentenced for 235 to 293 months – upwards of 19 years – for exposing CIA’s Merlin (the government argues he exposed a program that might have thwarted Iran’s nuclear ambitions, ignoring the evidence they themselves submitted showing it was poorly managed).

The same DOJ that recommends Petraeus should go virtually unpunished for sharing far more sensitive information with Paula Broadwell says that Sterling should go to prison for decades to set an example.

In addition, imposing a substantial prison sentence in this case is necessary to promote respect for the law and afford adequate deterrence to criminal conduct. 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(2)(A) & (a)(2)(B). The importance of these factors cannot be overstated. A substantial sentence in this case would send an appropriate and much needed message to all persons entrusted with the handling of classified information, i.e., that intentional breaches of the laws governing the safeguarding of national defense information will be pursued aggressively, and those who violate the law in this manner will be tried, convicted, and punished accordingly.

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Take this inoculation against warmongering. Think of Madeline Albright’s “price was worth it” quote, the US blockade of Iran, and the Israeli blockade of Gaza, then watch the autobiography-based Studio Ghibli anime Grave of the Fireflies in which a 5 year old girl slowly dies of malnutrition after her mother is napalmed to death by Curtis LeMay and company during our “Good War.”

Or at least read this great 4-star review by Roger Ebert.

When asked whether he would have supported working with the producers of Zero Dark Thirty, Department of Defense’s Director of Entertainment Media said he would not have recommended working with screenwriter Mark Boal and director Katherine Bigelow, because he was not happy with the way their movie Hurt Locker had presented the military. But he was not given a choice. “These senior people do whatever they want,” the Director told DOD’s Inspector General, according to a draft of the IG’s report on the leaks of classified information to Boal and Bigelow.

The Project on Government Oversight released the draft this week.

The Director’s comments are all the more telling given how much more centrally this draft of the report – as compared to another POGO obtained and released – point to the role of then CIA Director Leon Panetta and his Chief of Staff, Jeremy Bash, in leading the government to cooperate on the movie.

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A few years ago, a plucky contestant on Dancing with the Stars popularized a terrific phrase when asked about her daring routine late in the contest. It was time, she quipped, for her to “go big or go home.”

We’d like to see that can-do attitude manifested at the upcoming UN review conference on the Non-Proliferation Treaty – the so-called NPT RevCon.

What would going big mean? A serious commitment by the nuclear powers to get busy negotiating the global elimination of nuclear weapons, as required by the treaty’s Article VI. The conference will convene April 27 and run through May 22.

Nearly all the world’s countries will be in attendance, and there is sure to be a buzz over the historic breakthrough agreement on Iran’s nuclear enrichment program.

Presumably the United States and its allies will seek to bask in their diplomatic achievement with Iran – though not too brazenly, as the deal is not yet finally sealed, and some in the U.S. Congress seem hell-bent to torpedo it. But with the US and Russia brandishing their nuclear swords over Ukraine, it’s no time for anyone to rest on their laurels. There’s still so much unfinished business regarding the NPT, which became binding international law in 1970.

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