Open Thread: Stux in the Net

Another triumph for bipartisanship? Michael Isikoff (past credits), at the NBC News website:

Legal sources tell NBC News that the former second ranking officer in the U.S. military is now the target of a Justice Department investigation into a politically sensitive leak of classified information about a covert U.S. cyber attack on Iran’s nuclear program.

According to legal sources, Retired Marine Gen. James “Hoss” Cartwright, the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has received a target letter informing him that he’s under investigation for allegedly leaking information about a massive attack using a computer virus named Stuxnet on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Gen. Cartwright, 63, becomes the latest individual targeted over alleged leaks by the Obama administration, which has already prosecuted or charged eight individuals under the Espionage Act.

Last year, the New York Times reported that Cartwright, a four-star general who was vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs from 2007 to 2011, conceived and ran the cyber operation, called Olympic Games, under Presidents Bush and Obama. According to the front-page story by chief Washington correspondent David Sanger, President Obama ordered the cyber attacks sped up, and in 2010 an attack using the Stuxnet worm temporarily disabled 1,000 centrifuges that the Iranians were using to enrich uranium.

The Times story included details of the Olympic Games operation, including the cooperation of Israeli intelligence and the way the virus was introduced to an Iranian nuclear facility. It described meetings in the White House Situation Room and was based on interviews with “current and former American, European and Israeli officials involved in the program.”…

88 replies
  1. 1
    Corner Stone says:

    Burn the witch!

  2. 2
    Corner Stone says:

    Fucking traitor! I hope they use RC model cement to glue electrodes to his nethers! Burn!
    Irreparable! Burn!!

  3. 3
    Corner Stone says:

    I have to go get some Thai cold beef noodle salad before they close.
    But, please, carry on in my stead and make me proud.

  4. 4
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Corner Stone: I find it very hard to credit your commitment to the anti-witch crusade if a single plate of cold pasta would keep you from torturing your fellow creature. Suspicious even.

    Just what spell requires noodles, chillies and dead cow muscle, hmmm?

    Burn the witch!

  5. 5
    PsiFighter37 says:

    I do feel like this is part of the ‘no-drama Obama’ approach that the president takes way too seriously. Pretty well-known that he didn’t tolerate leaks from his campaign, but there’s no way everyone in the government is ever going to shut up about everything.

  6. 6
    Baud says:

    It was civil disobedience.

  7. 7
    ChrisNYC says:

    For real, I believe this is the person who E Snowden would like to shoot the balls of. He was talking about the 2009 stuxnet leak in that chat. Too perfect.

  8. 8
    Botsplainer, fka Todd says:

    @Corner Stone:

    I have to go get some Thai cold beef noodle salad before they close.

    Cold just sounds wrong.

  9. 9
    guachi says:

    I swear it’s the social media aspect of today’s society. Everyone has to blab about everything. As someone with a TS/SCI clearance, you learn to shut your mouth about stuff like this.

    Apparently this General never really learned this. Screw him.

  10. 10
    Redshirt says:

    Loose lips sink ships, yo. Dawg.

  11. 11
    Botsplainer, fka Todd says:


    Interesting that Special Ed would make his leak shortly before this revelation was made, considering that it took years of legwork to reach this point.

  12. 12

    Does this have anything to do with the Snowden saga? I am so done with Snowden.

  13. 13
    Felonius Monk says:

    @Corner Stone: While you’re out could you grab me a bag of burgers and a six-pack. Oh yeah, some Twinkies too if they’re back on the shelves.

  14. 14
    ruemara says:

    So leaks are ok and if you think leaks should be prosecuted, you’re an authoritarian. Jesus Christ, some of this shit people come up with is just ridiculous. It’s security not public information, and if you’re talking to the press before you get authorization, this is the risk you take.

  15. 15
    Suffern ACE says:

    Well no point in calling off the leak expedition now. If they bag one big fish, the leak rules will be rewritten. Not that it would help the small fry we spend time worrying about.

  16. 16
  17. 17
    Redshirt says:

    As I get older, leaks become more of a concern.

  18. 18
    Narcissus says:


  19. 19
    Yatsuno says:

    @PsiFighter37: Depends. A retired general could still be subjected to UCMJ penalties including stripping of stars and retirement benefits. Hoss took a pretty damn big risk here.

  20. 20
    ChrisNYC says:

    @ruemara: No, this leak was very bad, criminal. Ed told us that already. Waiting to hear on others.

  21. 21
    lamh35 says:

    ok, this tweet made me chuckle:

    @jimmeshelter 5h
    Diabetes no longer wishes to be associated with Paula Deen

  22. 22
    gogol's wife says:


    I want that kitteh

  23. 23
    srv says:

    McChrsytal got Hastings, who are Cartwright and Patraues going to get?

  24. 24
    burnspbesq says:


    Dude, how did you get one of my pictures of Laettner from when she was a itty-bitty kitty?

  25. 25
  26. 26
    Hal says:

    Retired Marine Gen. James “Hoss” Cartwright

    I wonder What Gen Ben Cartright and Pfc Little Joe think of this leak. Anyhow, just one more face to carve into mount rushmore next to Snowden’s.

  27. 27
    scav says:

    @lamh35: Yeah, with everything else going on and crowding out the front page, those sponsors are still backing off at warp PDQ. Almost encouraging.

  28. 28
  29. 29
    jeffreyw says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: He doesn’t like short jokes.

  30. 30
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Tom Levenson: ha!

  31. 31
    michelle says:

    I remember what got Greenwald going. It was the New York Times holding the story that the Bush administration was actually doing something illegal — snooping without a warrant — until after the election.

    Can someone please tell me where the Obama administration is breaking the law? Can someone here tell me that leaking classified material is legal and should not be pursued?

  32. 32
    Tom Levenson says:

    I know the snark runs rich here, and should, but am I alone in thinking that if Hoss did what he is under investigation for having doing, this is a BFD. 4 stars compromising an ongoing covert operation to derail a hostile nation’s nuclear infrastructure? Not acceptable. Not even close.

    I know folks are tired of Snowden, and I am too — but what he did for whatever reason has a genuine civic contribution coming along with it. This leak was just destructive of an actual, chain-of-command approved operation. Big deal, bad news.

  33. 33
    lol says:

    Looking forward to Greenwald’s defense of this hero who blew the whistle on America’s interference of a perfectly legitimate nuclear energy program overseas. After all, we shouldn’t speculate on motives. The important thing is that he revealed nefarious activities on the part of the neo-colonial despotic Stasi state overlord Obama.

  34. 34
    amk says:

    @Tom Levenson: authoritarian worshiper. statist.

    /signed and stamped by AL.

  35. 35
    Redshirt says:

    I think there are Wingnuts in high ranking positions in both the military, the government, and the bureaucracy. They are probably all committing treason on a weekly basis.

  36. 36
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @burnspbesq: You named your cat after Christian Laettner? How pathetic are you?

  37. 37
  38. 38
    burnspbesq says:

    Be interesting to hear somebody explain why he’s the subject of a civilian criminal investigation instead of a potential court-martial.

  39. 39
    Suffern ACE says:

    Well if anything, it’ll be fun to watch Dancing Dave, Peter King and Diane Feinstein accuse the good general of treason. Well, no, they’ll accuse the justice department if treason and compare them to bloggers run amuck.

  40. 40
    Yatsuno says:

    @Tom Levenson: Hence my big risk comment. He could face both civilian and military prosecution, have his stars revoked, his retirement benefits greatly curtailed, and get sent to Leavenworth with no credit for time served in the other jurisdiction. This is a huge thing, so much so that I hope it’s not true.

  41. 41
    burnspbesq says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    She likes to stomp on lizards. It was obvious.

  42. 42
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    Can’t wait to find out if The General ever made pr0n movees.

  43. 43
    Corner Stone says:

    @Tom Levenson: Mmmmm…you had me at dead cow muscle, you big stud.

  44. 44
    scav says:

    @burnspbesq: Different speeds at which they bring charges? Doesn’t sound like it’s an either or event.

  45. 45
    Corner Stone says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    @burnspbesq: You named your cat after Christian Laettner? How pathetic are you?

    Rhetorical, right?

  46. 46
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    That looks like One.Pissed.Off.Kitten.

  47. 47
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    Yeah, I feel you.


    Yeah, I hear you.

  48. 48
    Corner Stone says:

    @Felonius Monk:

    While you’re out could you grab me a bag of burgers and a six-pack. Oh yeah, some Twinkies too if they’re back on the shelves.

    Be happy to, as long as you play some notes that will soothe the savage authoritarian beast.

  49. 49
    Botsplainer, fka Todd says:


    Dude, how did you get one of my pictures of Laettner from when she was a itty-bitty kitty?

    Oh, Christ – you’re a DOOKIE?!?

  50. 50
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Corner Stone: No, it was the first time I saw the crusty old bastard as vulnerable. I might befriend him now.

  51. 51
    Corner Stone says:

    @srv: Shhhhhhh…..

  52. 52
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: I don’t know which would be more disappointing. Finding out that the general has unpaid business debts, or finding out that the general was running a side business. If the general is corrupt, I probably want him to be successful at it.

  53. 53
    Corner Stone says:

    @Tom Levenson:

    I know folks are tired of Snowden, and I am too — but what he did for whatever reason has a genuine civic contribution coming along with it. This leak was just destructive of an actual, chain-of-command approved operation. Big deal, bad news.

    Burn! Burn! Burn the witch!!

  54. 54
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Tom Levenson:

    Big deal, bad news

    Probably. But between Isikoff’s history of ratfcker-enabling, and the NYTimes‘ eagerness to serve as the official spokespaper of Whomever’s In Charge This Week, it’s hard not to be a little jaundiced. More virtual tinfoil for both ends of the political spectrum!

  55. 55
    srv says:

    y’all may want to be careful. Carwright might be protecting someone. Who needed to be shown as doing something about those evil Iranians when Bibi was prancing around DC and all the serious people were calling Obama a wimp?

    A JCS doesn’t get there by being the independent sort.

  56. 56
    Botsplainer, fka Todd says:


    The finest collection of videos about Duke I ever saw….

  57. 57
    Corner Stone says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: Your capacity for kindness, for decency..for human interaction.
    I pray for you, amigo.

  58. 58
    Redshirt says:

    @Corner Stone: You’re overly critical, don’t you think? @54 What would his Republican opposite do, for example?

  59. 59
    burnspbesq says:

    @Botsplainer, fka Todd:

    You have a problem with consistent excellence?

  60. 60
    Corner Stone says:

    I am incredibly amused that Lawrence O’Donnell is broadcasting from the Aspen Institute.

  61. 61
    Corner Stone says:

    @Redshirt: Who’s what do who now?

  62. 62
    burnspbesq says:

    @Botsplainer, fka Todd:

    Joe Scott’s a hell of a player, and he went off that night.

    There’s a reason why fans storm the court (or, in the case of Maryland, burn down the town) when they beat Duke. It’s a rare and noteworthy occurrence.

  63. 63
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Corner Stone: Love and teach others to love, that’s just how I roll. With enough love, I believe I can make Burns appear to be almost human like.

  64. 64
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Corner Stone:

    dead cow muscle

    Doesn’t sound quite as appealing as filet mignon.

  65. 65
    Felonius Monk says:

    @Corner Stone:

    . . . soothe the savage authoritarian beast.

    I’m not sure anything can soothe some of these beasts.

  66. 66
    Corner Stone says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: I have a bunch of Sriracha and fish sauce to go over it and vermicelli. That rocks just about anything.

  67. 67
    ChrisNYC says:

    Come back Ed Snowden! We got the leaking bastard! If there’s genital mutilation to be done, you’re just the anti authoritarian to do it!

  68. 68
    Redshirt says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: All we need is love, as some famous person sang.

  69. 69
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Redshirt: Love and empathy in this case. I named my cat Ray Lewis. The other two cats murdered a bird and Ray tried to cover it up. It was precious and endearing.

  70. 70
    different-church-lady says:

    General Cartwright, the freedom of Ecuador awaits you!

  71. 71
    Cacti says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Does this have anything to do with the Snowden saga? I am so done with Snowden.

    Special Ed’s life seems to have become his own personal version of “The Terminal”.

  72. 72
    different-church-lady says:

    @Cacti: Did you know wikipedia has a list of people who
    have lived in airports?

  73. 73
    Steeplejack says:


    Age-appropriate joking reference to Hoss Cartwright from Bonanza.

  74. 74
    catclub says:

    @gogol’s wife: That is a munchkin indeed. Very oddly proportioned. Looks old and sullen.

  75. 75
    Steeplejack says:

    @Tom Levenson:

    It seems likely that Cartwright was one of the sources for the Times article(s), and maybe this is a case not of malfeasance but of “backgrounder” run amok.

  76. 76
    Ryan C says:

    @ruemara: as someone who was formerly cleared at that level, what the fuck are you doing bragging about this fact on a message board? That’s bad op sec. You know that, but you posted here anyway.

    Are you a “traitor”? Before you level all these big accusations at others, look in a mirror. Hypocrite.

  77. 77
    Ryan C says:

    @michelle: legal = ethical, huh? Can someone point out where all those slaveholders were doing anything illegal? Your defense works for them, too.

  78. 78
    Ryan C says:

    @guachi: my first comment was in reply to this comment. Not sure what happened there.

  79. 79
    ruemara says:

    @Ryan C: You accidentally replied to me because my font was so beguiling.

  80. 80
    joel hanes says:

    @Felonius Monk:


    Made with scab labor.

  81. 81
  82. 82

    The Stuxnet program was actually war by other means on a nation with which America had not declared war. For foreigners like me it was shocking, that the American govt could just mount such an operation, with its citizens cheering on. This tells me that they would cheer further tomorrow if a nuclear bomb is actually detonated in Iran, as long as it is done “secretly”.
    So, whether you like it or not, this General did render a service, which was to tell the world that America had again violated international peace. I hope the Chinese do the same to you, and I hope you all would defend “their right to target a hostile nation”.
    For most Americans, most of the world has become “hostile nation” on which they would support any kind of covert action.

  83. 83
    MomSense says:


    Hastings was working on a story about Petraeus.

  84. 84
    Jeremy says:

    @Ramiah Ariya: Okay so that was your take from that article. First of all no one supports a war with Iran except crazy neo cons, and the U.S. consulted with other nations before taking this action. A virus on a computer is not an act of war.

  85. 85
    johnny aquitard says:


    A virus on a computer is not an act of war.

    I suspect it would be if the shoe were on the other foot and a large percentage of the US nuclear or even ordinary industrial operations were rendered unusable or unsafe from a foreign power’s cyberattack.

    Wikipedia on stuxnet: “The reason for the discovery at this time is attributed to the virus accidentally spreading beyond its intended target (the Natanz plant) due to a programming error introduced in an update”


    Sort of what everyone fears would happen with biological viruses engineered for weapons. Also it’s a lot easier for nations that did not and do not have the resources to create such things from scratch on their own, to reverse engineer it and alter it to their purposes. At the very least this will jumpstart such nations’ own cyberwarfare programs.

  86. 86
    mclaren says:


    You have a problem with consistent excellence?

    Where the word `excellence’ has been redefined as “shit-for-brains”…in the same way that burnspbesq’s legal idol Atty. Gen. Eric Cantor has redefined “due process of law” as “fire a missile at an unindicted unarraigned American citizen from a drone circling 10,000 feet overhead.”

  87. 87
    lol says:

    @Ramiah Ariya:

    There’s the somewhat amusing notion in this post that China *isn’t* already conducting cyber warfare.

  88. 88

    @Tom Levenson: I know that there was an attempt to turn the Olympic Games leaks into the Swiftboat issue of 2012 – this was the initiative Gabriel Gomez was involved with, but I’d like to look up when the Olympic Games stories broke. I believe it was after Ahmadinejad had already held a press conference on the failure of the centrifuges, and the publication in Wired of several in-depth stories on Stuxnet. I’m bringing this up because “ongoing” suggests that the Times Stuxnet stories broke in the midst of the operation, with the possibility of compromising it, when I believe they broke long after the operation when Stuxnet had been publicly analysed in-depth by various U.S. coders.

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