A pardon for Petraeus

 

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Illustration on Petraeus and a White House pardon by M. Ryder/Tribune Content Agency
Illustration on Petraeus and a White House pardon by M. Ryder/Tribune Content Agency more >
– – Monday, August 29, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Was something missing when, earlier this month, the White House announced that President Obama used his constitutional prerogative to put 214 convicts back on the street? Yes, we didn’t see a pardon for the person many Americans believe is the greatest general of his generation, David Petraeus.

True, the president’s latest use of his pardon power was to cut sentences. The White House proudly touts that “President Obama has surpassed the past nine presidents combined in total commutations.” Although the president is decidedly less generous in issuing full pardons, he has still delivered several dozen, and Gen. Petraeus ought to be among them.

Gen. Petraeus‘ fall from grace is so well known it hardly bears repeating, but recall that in March 2015 he pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor, a violation of 18 U.S. Code, Section 1924 for the “unauthorized removal and retention of classified material.” In doing so, he admitted to the court that he improperly gave classified information to his biographer, and that he made some false statements to FBI interrogators.

Why weren’t those false statements grounds for charges? As The Washington Post reported, Gen. Petraeus‘ lawyers were ready to show that the statements to the interrogators “weren’t material to the investigation and didn’t impede it.” This and other issues with the case may be the reason then-Attorney General Eric Holder told the newspaper there were “some unique things that existed in that case that would have made the prosecution at the felony level and a conviction at the felony level very, very, very problematic.”

As others have pointed out, Gen. Petraeus‘ biographer was another Army officer (with whom he had an indisputably reprehensible extramarital relationship) who held an active security clearance (albeit without the requisite “need to know”). What is also undisputed is that, unlike other cases, there has never been any suggestion that any of the material might have fallen into hostile hands.

So how does Gen. Petraeus‘ misconduct line up with that of others the president has already pardoned? Their offenses represent a cacophony of felonious criminality. The list includes drug dealers, thieves (including an armed robber), a variety of gun offenders, tax cheats, an Iranian hacker, fraudsters of every sort, counterfeiters, conspirators of all kinds — but especially in relation to the most addictive drugs on the planet: heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine — and, yes, even an adulterer

While a couple of the pardon recipients had some military service, none has a record that approaches that of Gen. Petraeus. He repeatedly answered the most frantic calls of his country by serving multiple combat tours first in Iraq, and later in Afghanistan. In both countries, it was his indispensable leadership that avoided collapses that would have been catastrophic for not just for Iraqis and Afghans, but also for America’s global interests.

Of course, comparisons with Hillary Clinton’s email scandal and FBI Director James Comey’s highly controversial decision to not charge her are inevitable. But let’s not entangle the righteousness of pardoning Gen. Petraeus with today’s bitterly partisan politics. Rather, this is a question of doing the right thing for a man who has endured, along with his family, a degree of public humiliation for a misdemeanor offense that is truly unprecedented.

No one is saying, least of all Gen. Petraeus himself, that he did not make significant mistakes. But after Sept. 11, 2001, he gave everything he had fighting America’s wars, and the nation ought to consider whether it asked one human being to bear too much of the burden. Gen. Petraeus was, as Teddy Roosevelt might put it, “in the arena” as few others have been and — as Roosevelt pointed out, sometimes the “strong man stumbles” there. Whatever punishment his misdemeanor warranted, it has been extracted many times over.

A pardon won’t erase the facts — or the pain that Gen. Petraeus will no doubt bear for the rest of his life — but it will remind a nation where less than 1 percent serve in the armed forces and where 85 percent of young people say they “would ‘probably’ or ‘definitely’ not serve in uniform,” that the sacrifice of military service still counts for something.In freeing hundreds of drug offenders and other convicts, the president rightly characterizes America as a “nation of second chances.” It’s now time to give Gen. Petraeus his second chance by clearing his record. He’s earned it.

Charles Dunlap is the executive director of Duke Law’s Center on Law, Ethics and National Security and is a retired Air Force major general.

Morning Joe Tries To Give Trump A New Nickname

Morning Joe Tries To Give Trump A New Nickname
CHRISTIAN DATOC
Reporter
9:25 AM 08/29/2016

Host Joe Scarborough sought to brand Donald Trump with a new nickname during Monday’s broadcast of “Morning Joe.”

The former congressman repeatedly called Trump, “Amnesty Don,” electing laughs from co-host Mika Brzezinski.

Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough attend the Accessories Council 20th Anniversary celebration of the ACE awards (Getty Images)
Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough attend the Accessories Council 20th Anniversary celebration of the ACE awards (Getty Images)

“A lot of people are calling him Amnesty Don,” Scarborough explained “That’s what people are calling him. I’m not calling him that. Hashtag Amnesty Don.”

“Am Don,” added Brzezinski.

“For 14 months, Amnesty Don has been putting illegal immigration at the center of Amnesty Don’s campaign,” Scarborough continued. “And yet, no one in Amnesty Don’s own campaign can tell you what amnesty Don’s position is after Amnesty Don won the primaries.”

“Even Amnesty Don’s own people don’t know what Amnesty Don’s going to do on this.”

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2016/08/29/morning-joe-tries-to-give-trump-a-new-nickname-video/#ixzz4IkbmoROd

Scientists: Earth Entered a New Age Around 1950

Scientists: Earth Entered a New Age Around 1950
They cast vote in favor of the Anthropocene
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 29, 2016 11:17 AM CDT
Updated Aug 29, 2016 11:39 AM CDT
11 comments Comments
 

Shrink
This image of the Earth at night is a composite assembled from data acquired via satellite over nine days in April 2012 and thirteen days in October 2012.   (NASA)

(NEWSER) – If you’re under the age of about 66, then big news: You’ve lived your entire life in the Anthropocene epoch, or the age of man. At least, that what scientists who voted Monday in Cape Town, South Africa, would like to see after seven years spent considering the question. The AFP reports that the declaration of an official end to the Holocene—the current, nearly 12,000-year-long epoch that began at the end of the last major ice age—is a good two years off. The 35-member Working Group on the Anthropocene’s vote acts as a recommendation to the International Geological Congress, which is one of several academic bodies that will need to approve it. More:

  • Smithsonian has a very readable “What is the Anthropocene” primer from 2013, which gets at one of the hearts of the debate: How to decide the precise point in the geological record (think rocks and ice cores) that demarcates when humans began to affect the Earth.
  • The AFP explains that the start of the Holocene was determined by an ice core drilled from the central Greenland ice sheet; it’s kept in a freezer in Denmark and is said to provide “unprecedented clarity.”
  • As for what “golden spike” will define the new epoch, the Working Group recommends the nuclear bomb tests that occurred around 1950 and scattered radioactive elements around the planet. The Guardian has more.
  • Working Group member Jan Zalasiewicz says countries have traditionally been eager to submit a golden spike sample, but that there might be some hesitation this time around due to what the Telegraph calls the “negative associations” of the Anthropocene.
  • The New Yorker in 2015 looked at debate about that Anthropocene golden spike (other arguments place it in 1610 and 1964), but saw that as secondary to the effect of the designation, regardless of its starting point. It quotes a Working Group member thusly, “It is geologists saying, ‘We are witnesses to this profound and problematic transition. And we want the world to talk about it.'”
  • To that end, Paul Crutzen—the man who coined the term Anthropocene in 2000—in 2011 wrote a column for Yale Environment 360 that suggests three answers to the question: “What then does it mean to live up to the challenges of the Anthropocene?”

Mark David Chapman’s Parole Denied—Again

Mark David Chapman’s Parole Denied—Again
John Lennon’s killer denied parole for 9th time, can try again in 2 years
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 29, 2016 12:03 PM CDT
5 comments Comments
 

 
This May 15, 2012, photo provided by the New York State Department of Corrections shows Mark David Chapman at the Wende Correctional Facility in Alden, NY.   (AP Photo/New York State Department of Corrections)

(NEWSER) – Nearly 36 years after he shot John Lennon dead, Mark David Chapman is still trying to get out of prison—and an upstate New York parole board is still denying him that chance, per the Hollywood Reporter. The 61-year-old, who’s said to have learned how to fix wheelchairs during his prison stint, was denied parole for the ninth time by a three-person panel, an official from the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision tells the New York Daily News, declining to elaborate on what factors led to the decision.

That means Chapman, who killed Lennon in NYC on Dec. 8, 1980, will have to spend at least two more years in the Wende Correctional Facility before he’s up for parole again. Per previous reports in the Daily News, five people since his last parole hearing (2014) are said to have sent letters supporting his release, while two letters—including one from Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, who has said, “He did it once, he could do it again”—reportedly asked for the parole board to keep him behind bars.