Daniel Ellsberg: If Gen. Petraeus won't serve a day in jail for his leaks, Edward Snowden shouldn't either



There’s an important difference between the two breaches, which makes this story even more upsetting.


Roger That!


it wasn’t Petraeus – it was his dick brain that did it!

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Well then, it was an excusable case of boys being boys.


Whatever Petraeus did, he submitted to the justice system and negotiated his plea.

The amounts of information leaked in the two cases is vastly different; the amounts of damage done is likewise immensely different: check it out: http://www.theguardian.com/world/interactive/2014/may/22/pentagon-report-snowden-leaks-damage-report, and “NSA chief says Snowden leaked up to 200,000 secret documents” (11/14/13, (Reuters)

Anyone have an objective 411 on the damage done by Petraeus? I didn’t think so.

CBS News (3/3/15) stated that he could have faced “a maximum punishment of one year in prison”; regarding his lying to the FBI, they can’t prosecute- CBS said, “apparently there was no transcript of that meeting.” That’s hardly a rich-Washington-insider advantage.

Speaking of “rich”, the rich boy/poor boy analogy, doesn’t wash: if anyone could pay their legal fees via Kickstart, it’s Snowden.

If Snowden’s case mere high-tech civil disobedience, the Obama administration should be his best shot at redemption Let him come face the music; then we can talk plea bargains.


Patreaus was able to make a plea deal, because he wasn’t charged under the espionage act in the first place. This is not something that normaly happens to low level leakers.

Here you are telling us there is a vast difference, yet you only sight an intelligence community assessment of the Snowden leak. If you were able to provide an assessment on Patreaus as well, we could then argue about the motivations of the people that did the reports. The lack of assessment on the damage done by Patreaus makes this an empty argument.

Are you arguing with yourself now? No one was speaking of rich, but you. There was no rich boy / poor boy analogy but the one you made yourself. The argument was about privilege, not monetary wealth.

If he gets charged under the Espionage Act which recent history makes seem likely for less connected leakers, then he won’t be getting the chance for a plea bargain.

I’d ask if you thought Patreaus giving TS//SCI information to his biographer and mistress could possibly be waved away as civil-disobedience or in the pubic interest, but from your comments above it seems like you aren’t really interested in what the case being made in the article was.

BTW: Since I didn’t say it up front; Welcome to BoingBoing.


RHIP…and apparently not going to USDB Leavenworth is one of them…

Je Sui Snowden


Better headline: If Gen. Petraues can make a plea deal, Edward Snowden should as well.


The whole viewpoint is “If Petraeus, why not Snowden” .

I gave a variety of reasons differencing the cases, so I am addressing the essence of the article. You agree that Petraeus is not espionage-level activity, which is a huge difference implicitly confirmed by all the complaints that Snowden can’t get a “fair trial” . If the case is so bad that the Obama Justice Department and State Department are unwilling to apply “discretion” as they have in many cases, the likelihood of a real case against Snowden is implied.

Most importantly Ellsberg-among others in the commentary world- cry “unfair privilege” on Petraeus while demanding privilege for Snowden.

Have you read any of the commentary going about on the net? (serious question).The richboy comment is quite popular and it is part and parcel the Washington Insider/privilege complaint.

The only place I can find references to damage by Petraeus’s action is also in many of the commentaries, which generally admit a minimal damage assessment: in other words I spent about 2 minutes to find an official account of Snowden damage and much more time to come up empty-handed on Petraeus. I offer a chance for others to correct me, even if I rhetorically predict the outcome.

Mere accusations of empty argument and lack of interest are themselves empty ad hominem…

Thanks for the welcome. One rarely gets a personal acknowledgement on the nets, and I appreciate the sentiment.


Rather odd, as the federal agents would have no reason to lie, and it seems Patraeus does not protest that he said such a thing. Never mind the fact that probably two or more federal agents interviewed him.

The most expensive lawyer in the world could not help Snowden in this climate.

He would be wise to wait it out.

Anyway, the whole Patraeus case is full of a number of odd coincidences. That is what got it started, a coincidence, or an accident. Maybe they didn’t want the case to go through because that wasn’t the point to begin with. It is kind of odd, the odd cast of characters involved, and how the case got started.

I noticed reading wiki on her just now that the initial reporting victim has since become a champion of privacy rights, as the FBI went through years and years of her emails during the investigation.

Truth is, the world is full of accidents and uncanny coincidences. Of course, not everyone believes this, especially case experienced investigators. I was reading in the Smithsonian the other day about the spiritualist whom Mary Lincoln frequented. President Lincoln grew concerned and got a White House investigator to check the man out. Nothing. Zip. He reported this back to the President. Yet, by strange coincidence he just happened one day - much later - to take the train sitting next to the very man who created this spiritualist’s electronic device he used in his act to fool people. Some kind of covert device tied to his bicep.

More odd, the spiritualist warned President Lincoln of his impending death. Not so odd: the spiritualist was an avid drinker and known drinking associate with John Wilkes Booth.

Anyway, also, welcome to boingboing. Not sure where they got the name. Tigger? Or maybe an oblique Alice in Wonderland reference?


Snowden is given favourable press due to his claimed motivation - if hypothetically another leaker, paid by the Chinese or the Russians had leaked the exact same documents as Snowden, there would be much less of a public defence of that leaker.

Snowden betrayed trust and planned his actions long in advance. Patreus I doubt had mens rea. He did serve effectively in the Army and deserves some leniency.

I would think the book should be thrown at Snowden for damaging the NSAs capabilities. Time, energy and money were spent creating all those ways of spying, which became useless once Snowden exposed them. I doubt Patreaus leaked anything of real substance even if he trchnically committed an offence

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You clearly have no clue how the justice system works in national security cases. If the attorney general asserts a national security interest, you as a defendant lose most of your constitutional rights. You have no right to confront your accusers or even know who they are. You have no right to see the evidence being used against you. You have no right to compel testimony from anyone involved in national security affairs no matter what exculpatory information they may possess. You have no right to compel disclosure of documents and the government has no obligation to reveal to you any evidence that might indicate innocence.

National security defense is literally a star chamber trial, the sort of thing that was a primary influence on the authors of the Constitution in creating the Bill of Rights protections in the first place. The government gets essentially what it wants. Petraeus is an insider and has been treated accordingly. Snowden is not. You’re naive if you think they won’t bring down the full persecutorial power of the executive branch to make damn sure he spends the rest of his life in solitary confinement.




New bbs member takes up for the asshole. Unsurprising. Well, we hope you stick around to be an active member of our little bbs. I’m not holding my breath.

Edit: I just checked on a random few of my ‘Welcome to BoingBoing supporter of asshole’ posts, and found that two of the posters no longer exist, one is suspended temporarily for trolling (This user is suspended until September 16, 2288 8:43am.) and the fourth has only posted a couple of times since intially joining. I’m probably too lazy to research all such posts from me, but I like the results of this small sample.


“classified information regarding the identities of covert officers, war
strategy, intelligence capabilities and mechanisms, diplomatic
discussions, quotes and deliberative discussions from high-level
National Security Council meetings … and [his personal] discussions with
the president of the United States.”

Nah, you’re probably right, none of this stuff is really that important.


That’s the essence of the Global Good he did!

He did not damage only the NSA. He dealt the same hand to everybody, by exposing the actually used technical capabilities of all the bad-guys-playing-good “national security” goons, regardless what country they are from. Chinese, Americans, Russians, Brits, Israeli, all are confined within the same limits of technology and physics; NSA is only one of them and likely pretty similar in most ways.

A damage was dealt by the best ways for us all, the civilians of the world - by telling us how to protect ourselves. In this wider context, I would be very hesitant to call it “damage”.

…and, my peers don’t call me paranoid anymore…


I was also thinking how astroturfy some of the comments for new users sounded.


One wonders how much this ‘astroturfing’ pays. Well, I hope.