- - Thursday, July 14, 2016

Anyone who served in the military understands the underlying principle of getting the bottom line up front. Because in a war zone there is always a chance the “messenger” might not get to complete their report or dispatch due to hostile fire.

The bottom line here is President Obama should pardon Gen. David Petraeus immediately. Given the outcome of the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private computer server during her four years as secretary of State, anything short of a full pardon by the president of Gen. Petraeus should be considered unacceptable by every American — especially the 2.2 million men and women in uniform and America’s 22 million veterans.

Surely there are distinctions between the two investigations. The classified material discovered in Gen. Petraeus’ home and that he gave to an Army Reserve major with a secret clearance (his alleged paramour) was never accessed by hostile actors. In contrast, FBI Director James B. Comey briefed:

“We do assess that hostile actors gained access to the private commercial email accounts of people with whom Secretary Clinton was in regular contact from her personal account She also used her personal email extensively while outside the United States, including sending and receiving work-related emails in the territory of sophisticated adversaries We assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal email account.”

Mr. Comey also said among the thousands of email chains examined, “Eight of those chains contained information that was Top Secret at the time they were sent Seven email chains concern matters that were classified at the Top Secret Special Access Program level.”

I will not stoop to partisanship. Nor am I questioning or trying to impugn Mrs. Clinton’s integrity, trustworthiness, motives, patriotism or suitability for any position of increased responsibility in our government. Everyone knows she is the Democratic Party front-runner for the presidency. The American people will decide on Nov. 8, 2016 who will have the privilege of serving as our 45th president and next commander in chief.

Gen. Petraeus had one of the most-distinguished careers of any military officer in modern history. He led American soldiers at the platoon, company, battalion, brigade, division, army and theater levels in peacetime and wartime. Gen. Petraeus positively impacted hundreds of thousands of American service members and their families. His final military assignment from 2010-11 was serving concurrently as the commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan and International Security Assistance Forces — Afghanistan (ISAF).

Gen. Petraeus’ bold leadership and strategies, especially as the senior commander in Iraq during “The Surge” in the midst of violent sectarian strife in 2007 and later in Afghanistan, helped spare thousands of American, Iraqi and Afghani lives. At his retirement ceremony, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen compared Gen. Petraeus to Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower as one of the great battle captains in American history. After leaving the military, Gen. Petraeus served as CIA Director from Oct. 11, 2011 to Nov. 9, 2012. He resigned from the CIA amid allegations of an affair. In April 2015, a federal judge in Charlotte, N.C. convicted Gen. Petraeus of the charge of unauthorized removal and retention of classified information. He was sentenced to two years’ probation and fined $100,000.

The American people will ultimately decide whether there has been any injustice or inequity with how Mrs. Clinton and Gen. Petraeus were treated by our government. Here is what we know. On a legal technicality having to do with “intent,” one senior person directly involved in a significant breach of highly classified material walked away from a yearlong FBI investigation without being charged. The other senior person — who served our nation with distinction in uniform for 37 years (including nearly six years in a combat zone) and another year as CIA director — had his sterling reputation sullied, was charged and convicted. Prior to the investigation into his handling of classified material, Gen. Petraeus’ integrity was considered above reproach going back to his days as a West Point cadet in the early 1970s. Fair and reasonable people know Gen. Petraeus paid dearly for his transgressions. Nonetheless, he now has a conviction.

At this pivotal point in our nation’s history, there is really only one outcome that is fair to this distinguished soldier — statesman who wears 11 combat service bars on his right sleeve and who defended our freedom and American way of life for nearly 40 years. He must be pardoned.

The American people recognize what fair and just treatment looks like when they see it. Likewise, the converse is true. I am confident President Obama will do the right thing and pardon Gen. David Petraeus. Presumably the president understands that action will not only convey the right message to our men and women in uniform and our veterans; it also will sends the right message to the American people.

Mike Galloucis, who served 30 years on active duty as a U.S. Army officer, led a brigade task force of 5,000 soldiers in Iraq under the overall leadership of Gen. David Petraeus. The views expressed here are the author’s and do not represent anyone else or any organization.

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