If you’re a Facebook friend of mine, you saw a post like this yesterday, but I just needed to expand on the insane level of government misconduct as regards the Clinton email scandal. Understand that I’ve always thought the whole thing was a Republican snipe hunt, given that their people have done so much worse in the past, directly outing CIA agents and such, but facts are facts, and equality under the law is supposed to be the gold standard of our legal system.
Yesterday, the Director of the FBI, James Comey, announced that after a full investigation, the FBI would not recommend prosecution of the former Secretary of state for mishandled classified information she shared and stored via her private email server. If you want to see what’s wrong with our government, just consider this sequence of statements all from the same announcement. Forget the motivations and the players. Just read them in isolation, and seriously consider what #4 says to you…
- “There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in X’s position, or in the position of those with whom she was corresponding about these matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation,”
- “It is possible that hostile actors gained access to X’s personal email account.”
- “Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case”
- “To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now.”
Never mind for a moment that the purpose of this email server was likely to circumvent transparency laws. Never mind for a moment that the presence of classified information on her private server literally means either that a Secretary of State a) knew this material was classified, so purposely broke the law, or b) is completely incompetent, and should never have been trusted with classified information in the first place. Never mind that we probably can’t prove her intent to break the law either way. Just consider the actual law.
US Code, Section 793.f: “Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, note, or information, relating to the national defense, (1) through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, or (2) having knowledge that the same has been illegally removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of its trust, or lost, or stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, and fails to make prompt report of such loss, theft, abstraction, or destruction to his superior officer—Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.”
Notice how intent is not a part of this section of the law? Notice that incompetence is specifically called out as no excuse?
Clearly the FBI is aware of this law, considering the case of Bryan Nishimura just last year, who while on deployment, copied several classified documents to personal devices, and kept the devices when he went home. “An FBI search of Nishimura’s home turned up classified materials, but did not reveal evidence he intended to distribute them. He was sentenced to two years of probation and a $7,500 fine, and was ordered to surrender his security clearance. He is barred from seeking a future security clearance.”
So let’s look at Director Comey’s statement again: “Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case”
I’m sure it’s small comfort to Bryan that the FBI and his prosecutor were being “unreasonable” when they destroyed his career and robbed him, but have now learned to be more reasonable!
Or maybe, considering how many times this has happened with politicians from both major parties, it’s just that our ruling class gets to live by a different interpretation of the law than the rest of us!
[ADDENDUM] When I originally posted, an old friend from school who’s served in our military made a wonderful comment that makes an important secondary point about this, and I think it needs to be shared here:
“I know Privates who can recognize classified materials if they come in without a header. Clinton’s defense was she didn’t know the material was supposed to be classified. The Democrat candidate for President is dumber than a Private… and Privates need to be reminded not to shit on the carpet or eat paint.”