Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman, Marine Corps Gen. James CartwrightAP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari

Gen. (ret.) James E. Cartwright (Haraz N. Ghanbari/AP)

The investigation of a top-ranking member of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff may end to avoid exposing a joint attack involving both countries against Iran.

An investigation against Gen. (ret.) James E. Cartwright, a senior member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, may be stymied by concerns that classified information could come to light regarding cyber-sabotage by the US and Israel against Iran.

Cartwright is suspected of leaking sensitive information on a planned cyber attack to the New York Times.

According to a report by the Washington Post, the investigation against Cartwright has the potential to cause classified information to become public. Even if the Obama administration decides that the information is not sensitive enough to justify stopping the investigation, Israel may disagree, causing conflict between the two allies.

Criminal Prosecution vs. National Security

“There’s a fundamental tension in cases­­ like this between the needs of a criminal prosecution and the needs of national security,” Jason Weinstein, a former deputy assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, told the Washington Post. “At the end of the day, if you can’t use the evidence you need in court, you can’t bring the case.”

New York Times reporter David E. Sanger described a confidential joint cyber-sabotage operation between the US and Israel against Iran, code-named Olympic Games, in his book, Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power, and in a June 2012 article. This was two years after the Stuxnet worm temporarily disabled Iranian nuclear facilities.

In September 2013, Foreign Policy reported that Cartwright, who was dubbed “Obama’s favorite general,” had been stripped of his security clearance. Cartwright’s lawyer, Gregory Craig, dismissed the allegations, saying, “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.”