Retired U.S. general pleads guilty to
lying to FBI in 'Stuxnet' leak case
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[October 18, 2016]
By Julia Harte
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - 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
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
"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
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."
Federal prosecutors declined to comment on the hearing. A false
statements conviction carries a maximum prison sentence of five years,
but prosecutors and Cartwright's attorneys agreed his offense merited a
sentence ranging from zero to six months.
Reuters and several other news outlets have previously reported that
Stuxnet was developed jointly by U.S. and Israeli forces. Both the U.S.
and Israel have never publicly admitted responsibility for Stuxnet.
[to top of second column]
Retired U.S. General James Cartwright, then vice chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff, testifies before a Senate Armed Services
Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 3,
2010. REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang/Files
Stuxnet was a sophisticated computer virus deployed covertly in 2009
and 2010 to sabotage Iranís nuclear program. The worm, parts of
which surfaced publicly in 2010 due to a programing error that
allowed it to spread across the open internet, is believed to have
destroyed a thousand or more centrifuges that were enriching
Cartwright has long been the target of a Justice Department probe
investigating the source of leaks about Stuxnet to the New York
U.S. District Judge Richard Leon on Monday tentatively scheduled
Cartwright's sentencing for Jan. 17, 2017, and acknowledged that
part of the sentencing might be closed to allow for discussion of
(Reporting by Julia Harte; Writing by Eric Walsh; Editing by Eric
Beech, Bernard Orr)
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