The military's former No. 2 officer is being investigated for his alleged involvement in leaking information about a secretive government program to wage cyber warfare against the Iranian nuclear program, according to media reports.
NBC and the Washington Post report retired Marine Gen. James "Hoss" Cartwright is the target of a Justice Department probe into allegations that he released information about "Olympic Games," a cyber operation started under President George W. Bush and continued by President Barack Obama to infect Iranian centrifuges with a virus known as Stuxnet.
The investigation is a continuation of the Obama administration's crackdown on classified leaks within the government, including against the New York Times and the Associated Press, which first reported the cyber program.
The retired general received a letter from the Justice Department informing him that he is a target of the investigation, which implies a prosecutor or a grand jury has substantial evidence linking a suspect to a crime. NBC reports the department has not yet decided whether it will charge Cartwright.
Cartwright, 63, served as a career aviator after receiving his commission in 1971. He was deputy commander of the Marine Forces Atlantic, commander of the First Marine Aircraft wing and commander of U.S. Strategic Command before assuming his position as vice chairman in 2007. He retired in 2011 and is currently the Harold Brown chair in Defense Policy Studies at the D.C.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.
While serving as vice chair he reportedly established the Stuxnet program, designed to infect Iranian centrifuges and cause them to self destruct. Bush reportedly advised Obama to continue the program, which Obama sped up, reports the Times. Roughly 1,000 centrifuges were disabled under the program.
Congressional leaders demanded a criminal probe shortly after the program was revealed, NBC reports, prompting Obama to say he had "zero tolerance" for the leaks.
He was the center of an investigation at the end of his tenure as vice chair regarding alleged inappropriate physical interaction with what sources say was a young female aide during a 2009 overseas trip. He was cleared of any wrongdoing in February 2011.
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