Feds target former high-ranking general in Stuxnet leak probe

Retired U.S. Marine Gen. James "Hoss" Cartwright has been informed he is under investigation as the source of leaks to the media regarding the sophisticated virus, NBC News reports.

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Federal investigators reportedly suspect a former high-ranking Pentagon figure of leaking classified information about Stuxnet, a computer virus that the U.S. is widely believed to have used to cripple a nuclear enrichment facility in Iran in 2010.

Retired U.S. Marine Gen. James "Hoss" Cartwright, the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has been informed that he is under investigation as the source of leaks to the media regarding the sophisticated virus, according to an NBC News report that cited "legal sources." Reportedly created by the U.S. and Israel, the highly destructive worm was designed to infect Iran's Natanz nuclear facility.

Cartwright, 63, was described last June by The New York Times as having "established a small cyberoperation inside the United States Strategic Command, which is responsible for many of America's nuclear forces." The four-star general, who served as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs from 2007 to 2011, "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," according to the Times.

The White House, the Justice Department, and Greg Craig, who is Cartwright's attorney and a former Obama White House counsel, all declined NBC News' requests for comment.

The worm, which targeted computers running Siemens software used in industrial control systems, first appeared in July 2010 and was later found to have code that could be used to control plant operations remotely. The sophisticated worm spread via USB drives and through four previously unknown holes, known as zero-day vulnerabilities, in the Windows operating system.