BALTIMORE (WJZ) — He was the second highest ranking military leader in the country and a top adviser to President Obama.
Now, retired Marine General James Cartwright faces jail time, accused of leaking top secret information.
General Cartwright pleaded guilty to misleading FBI agents investigating the leak, but he maintains he did not disclose the information.
Growing up in the military and having our children grow up in the military. As vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine General James Cartwright had access to classified information.
On Monday, the retired four star General was in court, accused of leaking it to two journalists.
Cartwright telling a federal judge “My only goal in talking to the reporters was to protect American interests and lives.”
The FBI began investigating in 2012, when a book by a New York Times writer referenced a covert program code-named “Olympic Games”.
The program, a secret computer virus, was used to attack Iran’s nuclear program.
According to court documents obtained by WJZ, Cartwright is accused of disclosing the top secret information to reporters — and then lying to the FBI about it.
Maryland US Attorney Rod Rosenstein, who’s prosecuting the case, says the General must be held accountable.
The White House has been aggressive in going after internal leaks, prosecuting at least eight people for violations.
The crackdown beginning after the largest intelligence leak in US history from NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
The Obama Administration put a full court press on trying to stop these insider leaks.
As for General Cartwright, his attorney says he was trying to stop journalists from releasing information they already knew.
Saying “His effort to prevent publication of information that might harm american lives or national security does not constitute a violation of any law”
The general faces up to five years in federal prison. Cartwright will be sentenced on January 17.
The general is a former fighter pilot, and retired in 2011.