After a three-month deliberation, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter has decided not to change Ret. Army Gen. David Petraeus's standing after new information about the sex scandal that led to his downfall came to light.In a letter dated Friday to the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Defense Department’s legal counsel wrote “Given the Army’s review, Secretary Carter considers this matter closed,” Stephen C. Hedger, the assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs, said in the three-sentence letter.The Daily Beast first reported that Carter was considering changing Petraeus’s standing after the Army received new information about its investigation into Petraeus in which he admitted to giving classified information to his biographer and mistress while he was still in uniform. The letter was addressed to the committee’s chairman Republican Sen. John McCain, who immediately objected to Carter’s decision to reconsider his status after the Daily Beast story appeared.General officers can be punished retroactively if the military determines that the violated military rules while they were actively serving, even after they retire. Three officials told the Daily Beast that the after the U.S. Army received new information about the case, it recommended in November that there was no reason to change Petraeus’ standing as a retired four-star general. Usually such recommendations are accepted by the Secretary of Defense.But Carter requested additional information, leading to fears the secretary would retroactively demote one of this generation’s most celebrated four-star generals.Petraeus, who retired from the Army in 2011, pleaded guilty last year to giving Paula Broadwell eight notebooks that he compiled while serving as commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and that he knew contained classified information. The notebooks held some of the most sensitive kinds of military and intelligence secrets, including the identities of covert officers, intelligence capabilities, quotes from high-level meetings of the National Security Council, and notes about Petraeus’s discussions with President Obama.Some in the military believed that not punishing Petraeus suggested that high-ranking officers were treated differently than lower ranking officers, some of whom who have been forced to leave the military for lesser offenses. Still others felt that Petraeus has been sufficiently punished.
– Nancy A. Youssef