U.S. general under investigation for Stuxnet leak, report says

A former high-ranking U.S. military official is reportedly under investigation for leaking classified information related to the use of malicious software to disrupt Iran’s uranium refinement program.

Retired Marine Gen. James Cartwright, who was vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for four years through 2011, has been notified by letter by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) of the investigation, reported NBC News, citing anonymous legal sources. DOJ officials could not immediately be reached.

The Washington Post, citing a senior official in the administration of President Barack Obama,  also reported that Cartwright was under investigation.

In 2010, The New York Times detailed the operation that created Stuxnet, a malicious software program that successfully disrupted Iran’s nuclear program by interfering with industrial control software used in centrifuges. In June 2012, the newspaper wrote that Cartwright was a key player in persuading former President George Bush to consider cyberattacks as a way to counter Iran’s nuclear program.

Obama’s administration has sought to criminally charge those who reveal classified information. NBC News’ report comes as the U.S. is pressing Russia to turn over Edward Snowden, a former NSA analyst who released classified documents related to the U.S. government’s extensive electronic surveillance efforts.

Stuxnet was a worm that could spread via USB devices inserted into computers. It meddled with a Siemens program called WinCC, which is used to manage processes in factories and energy utilities. Iran used it to control uranium centrifuges.

The exposure of the Stuxnet program put the U.S. in an uncomfortable position of being labeled an aggressor with its cyber operations.

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