Okay, Hoss. It might be time to ride into the sunset.
That’s James “Hoss” Cartwright, the retired four-star Marine general and onetime vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who, as NBC’s Michael Isikoffrevealed this past week, is a target of a Justice Department investigation into the leaking of a cyberattack initiated by the United States against Iran.
The existence of Stuxnet, a computer virus that in 2010 disabled 1,000 uranium-enrichment centrifuges in Iran, was first reported in the New York Times in 2011. The report immediately set off a political firestorm on Capitol Hill, with some speculating that the White House purposely leaked the information to bolster President Obama’s national security credentials before the 2012 election.
But over the past year, the focus moved from the White House to the Pentagon and, more specifically, to Cartwright, who was a key architect of the broader operation — known as “Olympic Games” — of which Stuxnet was a part. To be clear: Cartwright has not been charged with any wrongdoing as of this writing and his lawyer, Greg Craig, said Friday that “any suggestion that he could have betrayed the country he loves is preposterous.”
Regardless of how the story develops, the fact that Cartwright — who as recently as 2011 was the second-highest-ranking member of the U.S. military and part of Obama’s inner circle on security issues — is a target of the inquiry is a significant ramping up of the administration’s aggressive pursuit of leakers, no matter who they are.
Hoss Cartwright, for finding yourself on the wrong end of a Justice Department investigation, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.
Have a candidate for the Worst Week in Washington? E-mail Chris Cillizza at firstname.lastname@example.org.