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‘Obama’s favorite general’ pleads guilty to leaking details in Stuxnet probe

Retired Marine Gen. James Cartwright arrives at US District Court in Washington, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. Cartwright has been charged with making false statements during a federal investigation into a leak of classified information, the Justice Department announced. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

James “Hoss” Cartwright, a Marine Corps veteran who served as vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and advised the White House on drone strikes, cyberwarfare and other technical matters, pleaded guilty on Monday to making false statements during an investigation into a leak of classified information about a covert cyberattack on Iran's nuclear facilities. The plea ends a Justice Department investigation that began after the 2012 leak to reporters of information about use of a computer virus called "Stuxnet" that disabled equipment the Iranians were using to enrich uranium.

It was wrong for me to mislead the FBI on Nov. 2, 2012, and I accept full responsibility for this.

Retired Marine Gen. James Cartwright

In a written statement released to reporters after the hearing, Cartwright stressed that he was not the initial source of the leak about Stuxnet but spoke to reporters about material they already knew. Cartwright also pled to lying about disclosures he made to former Newsweek editor Daniel Klaidman about the administration’s covert efforts to disrupt the Iranian nuclear program. Klaidman is now deputy editor of Yahoo News.

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James Cartwright

James E." Hoss" Cartwright(born September 22, 1949) is a retired United States Marine Corps four-star general who last served as the eighth Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from August 31, 2007, to August 3, 2011.


Stuxnet is a malicious computer worm believed to be a jointly built American-Israeli cyberweapon, although no organisation or state has officially admitted responsibility. However, anonymous US officials speaking to The Washington Post claimed the worm was developed during the Bush administration to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program with what would seem like a long series of unfortunate accidents.Stuxnet specifically targets programmable logic controllers(PLCs), which allow the automation of electromechanical processes such as those used to control machinery on factory assembly lines, amusement rides, or centrifuges for separating nuclear material.