A retired U.S. Marine Corps general who last served as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff pleaded guilty on Monday in a federal court to making false statements to the FBI during an investigation into leaks of classified information.
Four-star General James Cartwright was questioned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2012 over a book written by New York Times reporter David Sanger, which exposed a malicious computer software program known as “Stuxnet” designed to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program.
Cartwright also in 2012 confirmed classified information about an unnamed country to Daniel Klaidman, then a reporter for Newsweek, according to his plea agreement.
He retired from the U.S. Marine Corps in September 2011, four months before he began providing information to Sanger, the plea agreement said.
“I knew I was not the source of the story, and I didn’t want to be blamed for the leak,” said Cartwright of his effort to mislead FBI agents in a statement released after he pleaded guilty on Monday. “My only goal in talking to the reporters was to protect American interests and lives.”
Cartwright’s guilty plea was for his false statements to FBI agents, not for speaking to the reporters, said Cartwright’s attorney Gregory Craig, of Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, in a separate statement: “His effort to prevent publication of information that might harm American lives of national security does not constitute a violation of any law.”