Fyodor Dostoevsky author of 'Crime and Punishment' is arguably one of the most celebrated writers throughout history. In his memoirs of his account of 4 years imprisoned in a Siberian gulag he wrote of being haunted by an insoluble problem, the inequality of punishment for one and the same crime. Those words were put to paper in 1862 and 153 years later his assertion could not be truer of America today, especially with the handling of General David Petraeus.
David Petraeus, a retired 4 star general oversaw operations in both Afghanistan, Iraq and was even at one point being touted as a potential presidential candidate. However this week General Petraeus was sentenced at a North Carolina court for leaking details of national security meetings, the identity of covert operatives and other classified documents. History highlights how important America views matters of national security and perhaps more poignantly anything that threatens it, how is it that General Petraeus then received no jail time, a 2 year probation and a $100,000 fine?
Presiding judge David Kessler stated the $100,000 fine was to "reflect the seriousness of the offence" which is an interesting statement, indicating a policy that serious threats to national security can somehow be mitigated by financial gain. Worth mentioning is the manner in which General Petraeus divulged classified information, not due to altruism or a moral epiphany to highlight some form of injustice or wrongdoing, but in the cause of his own written biography. General Petraeus was found guilty of passing classified black note books to his official biographer and extra marital lover Paula Broadwell for the purpose of his own book 'All In: The Education of General Petraeus'.
The punishment of General Petraeus is in stark contrast to that of former CIA analyst and case officer John Kiriakou also found guilty of leaking classified information. John Kiriakou was the first government official to confirm water-boarding being used by the CIA during interrogations, and as we now know due to recent revelations formed an integral part of the agency's policy of institutionalized torture.
Kiriakou was sentenced to 2 ½ years in prison, becoming the only CIA employee to be jailed over the use of torture, however not for committing it but exposing it. The judicial failings of a country supposedly founded upon the principle of freedom become all too apparent when an exposition of government unlawfulness results in more stringent punishment than commercial narcissism. The ability for General Petraeus to buy his way out of trouble highlights the depths of inequality felt in America at a time where protesting is taking place in Baltimore over black lives mattering.
Founding father John Adams once espoused "Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity and happiness of the people; and not for profit, honour, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable and indefensible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity and happiness require it"