Not a priority.

Photographer: Jason Kempin/Getty Images for History Channel/Team Rubicon

Petraeus, Anthony Shouldn't Be Prosecuted

Albert R. Hunt is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the executive editor of Bloomberg News, before which he was a reporter, bureau chief and executive Washington editor at the Wall Street Journal.
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There are a lot of law enforcement and national security priorities in the U.S.; Greg Anthony and General David Petraeus are not among them.

Anthony, a former National Basketball Association player who was a basketball analyst for CBS Sports, was arrested last week in Washington for soliciting a prostitute. Petraeus, a former top military commander, was director of the Central Intelligence Agency until 2012, when he resigned after public disclosure of an extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. According to news reports, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has recommended that Petraeus be prosecuted for giving unauthorized material, including classified documents, to Broadwell.

Anthony was stupid, Petraeus reckless. Yet both cases would waste taxpayer money if they end in prosecution. There are far more important matters. Whatever access to secret documents Broadwell may have had, no one is suggesting that her access compromised national security. Petraeus, the most celebrated military leader of this generation, has already been punished; he was forced to resign in disgrace. A prosecution would be a gratuitous waste of money.

The decision will be made by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who has prosecuted more alleged leaks under the World War I-era Espionage Act than all his predecessors combined. (Recently Holder appears to be moderating this zealotry.)

Anthony, 47, was arrested at Washington's Doubletree Hotel, police said, after having been caught in an undercover operation. CBS Sports suspended him for the season, and Anthony could face up to 180 days in jail. Prostitution isn't necessarily a victimless crime. But in a city beset by illegal drugs, gangs and political corruption, allocating resources to a prostitution sting seems a dubious choice.

There are far more serious cases of sexual assault and rape that would benefit from increased attention from authorities. Likewise, the Pentagon should follow Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's lead and reform its procedures for handling sexual assaults, including taking prosecutions out of the chain of command.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

To contact the author on this story:
Albert R. Hunt at ahunt1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor on this story:
Francis Wilkinson at fwilkinson1@bloomberg.net