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Former high-ranking US general reportedly being targeted in Stuxnet leak investigation

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Gen. James "Hoss" Cartwright (Flickr: Cherie Cullen / DoD)
Gen. James "Hoss" Cartwright (Flickr: Cherie Cullen / DoD)

NBC News is reporting that retired Marine Gen. James "Hoss" Cartwright, the former second highest ranking officer in the US military, is currently under investigation for leaking classified information about Stuxnet, the US-Israeli computer virus which sabotaged an Iranian nuclear facility in 2010.

According to the New York Times report from last year, Gen. Cartwright, a four-star general and former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was responsible for conceiving and executing "Olympic Games," the operation begun under the Bush administration which eventually built and unleashed the Stuxnet virus in collaboration with Israel. Security researchers first discovered the virus in 2010, when it began spreading to computers across Europe, India and the Middle East. Further investigation revealed it used more than 20 zero-day exploits, and was reportedly loaded into Iran's industrial control systems by undercover agents carrying USB sticks. Cartwright accelerated the operation under direction from President Obama, resulting in a cyber attack which damaged 1,000 centrifuges used for uranium enrichment at Iran's Natanz nuclear facility.

If indicted, Gen. Cartwright would join Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden, and others as the ninth person to be charged under the 1917 Espionage Act by the Obama administration, which has invoked the law more times than all previous US administrations combined.