When Stephen J. Kim, a former State Department contractor, leaked classified information about North Korea to Fox News in an effort to bring attention to the danger that country poses, he was given a 13-month sentence. Yet David Petraeus gave his journals, which contained top-secret notes, to the lover writing a book about him, and the now-retired general will not be given jail time. A lawyer for Kim points out that "profound double standard" in a letter to the Justice Department calling for Kim's immediate release, the New York Times reports. And, as the Times notes, there are other examples of the discrepancy in sentences handed out to high-level officials like Petraeus versus those handed out to lower-level officials or contractors. For instance:
- Former CIA officer John C. Kiriakou served almost two years for disclosing the name of a fellow officer involved in the CIA's interrogation program to a journalist. Petraeus, then-CIA director, released a statement on the incident noting that "oaths do matter"—a month before his own disclosures were revealed.
- Former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling faces years in prison for allegedly leaking information to the Times about a secret mission, though he says he's innocent. (One of his lawyers tells Yahoo News the defense team will cite Petraeus' case during Sterling's sentencing next month.)
- But the investigation into alleged leaks by retired Gen. James E. Cartwright has stalled.
- The letter also notes that Leon Panetta wasn't punished even though he allegedly leaked the name of the SEAL who led the Osama bin Laden raid, the Intercept reports.
"If you're high enough up, you play by different rules," says a former NSA officer whose own illegal disclosures cost him his retirement benefits and a lot of money. Petraeus, meanwhile, makes a good living running a private equity firm, speaking on national security issues, and even advising the White House
. Kim's lawyer tells Yahoo News he's not expecting a "positive response" to his letter.