Ex-U.S. General Under Investigation over Attack Virus Leaks

According to an NBC News report, the Justice Department is investigating the former second highest ranking officer in the U.S. military for leaking classified information about a U.S. cyber attack on Iran's nuclear program. The same officer, according to reports, both conceived and ran the top secret operation from 2007 to 2011.

Retired Marine General James "Hoss" Cartwright, the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reportedly received a letter from the Justice Department informing him that he's under investigation for leaking the information about the virus, called Stuxnet, which disabled 1,000 centrifuges used for enriching uranium by Iran's nuclear facilities in 2010.

News of the operation was revealed in a New York Times article written by David Sanger published last summer. That article identified General Cartwright as the founder and head of the program, code-named Olympic Games at the time.

General James E. Cartwright, who had established a small cyberoperation inside the United States Strategic Command, which is responsible for many of America’s nuclear forces, joined intelligence officials in presenting a radical new idea to Mr. Bush and his national security team. It involved a far more sophisticated cyberweapon than the United States had designed before.

Shortly after the Times article appeared, Congressional leaders and President Obama condemned it, with the president saying he had "zero tolerance" for "these kinds of leaks." NBC's sources say that Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI agents identified Cartwright, who was considered part of Obama's inner circle, as the leak's source without resorting to a secret subpoena of Sanger's phone records.

Of course, it remains to be seen how vigorously the Justice Department will pursue Cartwright, considering the fact that this particular leak cast the Obama administration in a favorable light. As some have pointed out, it's difficult to imagine the former general sharing a cell with Bradley Manning.

[NBC News/Image via AP]