On April 23rd, 2015 General Petraeus (ret.) received sentence of two years probation and a fine of $100,000. His crime? Releasing highly classified information to his mistress.
Now, let’s step back and think about the crime here. Petreaus, knowingly and willingly gave out classified information pertaining to the CIA that jeopardized national security, put American lives and operations at risk, and was all done in an effort to maintain an affair, and boost his own biography. For Petraeus, this is a mere slap on the wrist and his next book or a couple of speeches will more than cover what he owes to the US government. Note that his retirement from the US Army will still be paid in full (Generals receive the salary they earned while in the military into retirement), his honorable discharge will remain and he will still be known as the General who led the charge in Iraq and Afghanistan, now with just a little bit of a black eye. In short, prosecutors gave him more of a warning than anything and will allow him to carry out his days in ease.
In 2013, Col Gregg Davies of the Arizona Air National Guard was ordered to pay back wages that he and 20 other guard members were accused of stealing totaling $1.4 million. According to an indictment provided by the US Attorney’s Office, Col. Davies and his subordinate officers falsified documents to receive a higher home-of-record pay from the Air Force. These individuals fraudulently received between $10,000-$90,000 between November 2007 and September 2010. What is striking about this is that these members of the National Guard, knowingly and deliberately took money from the US government and their punishment was to simply pay it back. The US Attorney’s Office stated that the lack of punishment imposed was due to the fact that the cost of trying the individuals would have been too high and that they were all fighter pilots who would be costly to replace. In this instance the ranks and positions of the National Guard members allowed them to keep from being criminally prosecuted.
Now compare these two instances to the National Guard members being prosecuted and punished by CID and the US Attorney’s Office. In most cases, the crimes the individuals are being accused of are based on weak, faulty evidence for their participation in a flawed program that the National Guard emplaced. Not only that, but the US Government is spending millions of dollars* each year to ensure these soldiers are prosecuted and sent to jail. So far the US Government has spent upwards of $40 million to retrieve just over $900,000 in restitution** and have sent countless soldiers to prison. In these instances soldiers are being prosecuted for their participation in a program that ran from 2006-2012, almost the same time frame as the Arizona National Guard soldiers. In addition they are being charged for theft of government funds between $2,000 and $100,000, around the same amount if not less than the Arizona National Guard soldiers. Finally they are being prosecuted for participating, most often in good faith, in a sanctioned program under the direction of the National Guard.
What our judicial system and National Guard leadership show us is that they aren’t interested as much as the nature of the alleged crime, but more so, who committed the crime. If you are an officer, or a General you get a slap on the wrist, even if you knowingly committed a crime. But, if you are an innocent lower enlisted soldier you are going to go to jail and be forced out of the military for participating in the Guard Recruiting Assistance Program (G-RAP). If there is any doubt to this hypothesis then we should revisit the fact that no senior National Guard leadership have been prosecuted for their participation G-RAP even though CID identified them for conducting fraudulent activity.
*University of New Hampshire (4/12) report that the costs to prosecute a single white collar crime is $15,000 – $20,000.