The U.S. government has treated principled whistle-blowers like treasonous spies, yet Attorney General Eric Holder has reportedly ignored recommendations from his own FBI and Justice Department to prosecute former CIA chief David Petraeus.

The New York Times reported Friday that “F.B.I. and Justice Department prosecutors have recommended bringing felony charges against retired Gen. David H. Petraeus for providing classified information to his former mistress while he was director of the C.I.A.” Petraeus, a decorated general who worked for both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama, is accused of passing classified information to his mistress, who was also his biographer.

Petraeus resigned from the CIA in 2012 and Holder was supposed to have decided whether to prosecute by the end of the year. The Times reports that the dilly-dallying has irritated Holder’s own subordinates, who see a double standard, as well as Petraeus supporters.

With Obama and Holder, the U.S. has conducted more prosecutions under the Espionage Act than all previous presidents combined. The administration has hunted leakers from all corners of government, including some who are praised as heroes.

Still, any move against Petraeus, who was once headed on the Eisenhower trajectory toward the White House, would be seen in some circles as politically motivated. Obama and Holder have avoided prosecutions against Bush administration officials that might appear retaliatory. It’s worth noting, for instance, that the only U.S. official to face prosecution related to torture so far has been John Kiriakou, the CIA officer who blew the whistle to try to stop it.

If the Times reporting is accurate, then Petraeus clearly holds a privileged position and is not being held to the same standard as other accused government leakers. Ironically, the Times reporting is based on anonymous leaks from government officials who are fed up with the situation.

For the record, Petraeus denies any wrongdoing.

— Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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