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Retired General Defends Himself Amid Leak Reports

Retired Marine Gen. James "Hoss" Cartwright, the former vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff who has reportedly been named as a target of a federal leak investigation, has issued a statement defending himself, saying that he did not betray the United States.

As The Two-Way reported last night, Cartwright has reportedly been named as "the target of a Justice Department investigation" into how reporters learned details about the United States' role in the sabotage of an Iranian nuclear facility by a computer virus in 2010.

Here's a short statement released by Cartwright's attorney, Gregory Craig, Friday:

"General Jim Cartwright is an American hero who served his country with distinction for four decades. Any suggestion that he could have betrayed the country he loves is preposterous."

Even as far back as 2011, the United States was seen as the "leading force" behind the Stuxnet project, as NPR's Tom Gjelten reported, citing a German cybersecurity expert.

But in June of 2012, The New York Times solidified that view, and reported on the decisions that had led up to Stuxnet's deployment, including private conversations among President Obama and his national security team. It also described Stuxnet as just one element of a larger program, code-named Olympic Games.

Calling the relaying of details about Stuxnet "a politically sensitive leak of classified information," NBC's Michael Isikoff reported last night that sources have told him that Cartwright, who was the second-ranking officer in America's military at the time of Stuxnet, was the target of investigators looking into the leak that provided details for the Times story.

The Times article mentions Cartwright twice, saying that he "had established a small cyberoperation inside the United States Strategic Command," and calling him a crucial player in the Olympic Games project. The story also gave new details about how the bug had been developed by the United States, working with Israel.

After that story was published, Attorney General Eric Holder ordered an investigation into the leak. And this past January, The Washington Post reported that the FBI and prosecutors had spoken to "several current and former senior government officials in connection with the disclosures, sometimes confronting them with evidence of contact with journalists, according to people familiar with the probe."

The Post also quoted a source as saying the investigators were looking at "everybody — at pretty high levels, too."

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