You Owe Them Nothing

FBI director Comey has just given a statement on his agency’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified email.

We read (my emphasis):

Our investigation looked at whether there is evidence classified information was improperly stored or transmitted on that personal system, in violation of a federal statute making it a felony to mishandle classified information either intentionally or in a grossly negligent way, or a second statute making it a misdemeanor to knowingly remove classified information from appropriate systems or storage facilities.

Got that? Just to be clear, here’s what 18 U.S. Code § 793 says about negligence:

(f) Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document… 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.

Note: “…through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody…”; “…having knowledge that the same has been illegally removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of its trust…”

On even the most charitable (and completely, utterly, laughably implausible) interpretation — that Mrs. Clinton simply had no idea she was doing anything wrong — has she not amply satisfied these criteria?

Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.

For example, seven e-mail chains concern matters that were classified at the Top Secret/Special Access Program level when they were sent and received. These chains involved Secretary Clinton both sending e-mails about those matters and receiving e-mails from others about the same matters. There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position, or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding about these matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation. In addition to this highly sensitive information, we also found information that was properly classified as Secret by the U.S. Intelligence Community at the time it was discussed on e-mail (that is, excluding the later “up-classified” e-mails).

None of these e-mails should have been on any kind of unclassified system, but their presence is especially concerning because all of these e-mails were housed on unclassified personal servers not even supported by full-time security staff, like those found at Departments and Agencies of the U.S. Government—or even with a commercial service like Gmail.

Separately, it is important to say something about the marking of classified information. Only a very small number of the e-mails containing classified information bore markings indicating the presence of classified information. But even if information is not marked “classified” in an e-mail, participants who know or should know that the subject matter is classified are still obligated to protect it.

While not the focus of our investigation, we also developed evidence that the security culture of the State Department in general, and with respect to use of unclassified e-mail systems in particular, was generally lacking in the kind of care for classified information found elsewhere in the government.

With respect to potential computer intrusion by hostile actors, we did not find direct evidence that Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail domain, in its various configurations since 2009, was successfully hacked. But, given the nature of the system and of the actors potentially involved, we assess that we would be unlikely to see such direct evidence. We do assess that hostile actors gained access to the private commercial e-mail accounts of people with whom Secretary Clinton was in regular contact from her personal account. We also assess that Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail domain was both known by a large number of people and readily apparent. She also used her personal e-mail extensively while outside the United States, including sending and receiving work-related e-mails in the territory of sophisticated adversaries. Given that combination of factors, we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail account.

About what we had expected. But then:

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. Prosecutors necessarily weigh a number of factors before bringing charges. There are obvious considerations, like the strength of the evidence, especially regarding intent.

Recall that just above, Director Comey said that it was a felony to “mishandle classified information either intentionally or in a grossly negligent way“. So why does intent matter? And even if it does, can anyone doubt that Hillary Clinton intentionally, by approving, creating, and using her own private and unsecured server, removed classified documents from their “proper place of custody”?

How do you square this circle? How can Director Comey, after laying out the criteria for prosecution, then reading us a damning litany of gross malfeasance that would have any of the rest of us clapped in irons, say that “no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case”? The FBI’s focus on intent is as we see above, irrelevant. The only possible explanation here is politics and power. (And as one online commenter said about Mrs. Clinton in the wake of the FBI’s account of her behavior, “only her withered husk of a soul is preventing her from bowing out of the race in shame.”)

The headlines from the usual Cathedral organs pass over the litany — in the hope that it will recede from memory — and focus on the FBI’s recommendation. Today, President Obama is out on the campaign trail with Mrs. Clinton; he left on this outing even before Mr. Comey delivered his remarks. Would he have done so if he hadn’t known what was coming?

The mask, and the gloves, are off. All pretense of rule of law, representative government, Constitutional order, and respect for the intelligence and opinions of the American people are now publicly shredded. Power is everything — and the Clintons, and the Obama DOJ, have it. They are mocking us, taunting us, jeering at us. We ask for justice and accountability — and they laugh, and snap their fingers in our faces. What are you going to do about it, American citizens?

Here’s one polemic response, posted yesterday by Kurt Schlichter. (It was also linked to by our commenter Whitewall in our previous thread.)

This is how public trust — and, as night follows day, public order — die.

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26 Comments

  1. Whitewall says

    (And as one online commenter said about Mrs. Clinton in the wake of the FBI’s account of her behavior, “only her withered husk of a soul is preventing her from bowing out of the race in shame.”)

    Clinton is soulless. That’s her advantage. Her supporters are of a similar nature.

    Posted July 5, 2016 at 1:48 pm | Permalink
  2. It’s not a social contract anymore – American society today is a suicide pact we never agreed to and yet we’re expected to go first.

    Does your run-of-the-mill ignorant liberal even know what a social contract is? I doubt it.

    “Is that, like, if I vote for y’all I get an 0bama phone?”

    Yeah. That’s what it’s like.

    Posted July 5, 2016 at 2:22 pm | Permalink
  3. Eric says

    The soap box, ballot box, and jury box have proven ineffective. The fourth box is likely to be opened soon.

    Posted July 5, 2016 at 2:33 pm | Permalink
  4. Whitewall says

    Lifted from many sources–
    BREAKING: FBI finds John Wilkes Booth “extremely careless” in discharge of firearm.

    Posted July 5, 2016 at 2:45 pm | Permalink
  5. JK says

    Well I hope Loretta can manage all the paperwork in order so as to effect Chelsea Manning’s presence at the Dem’s convention to accept the VP nod.

    Reckon which Eddie Snowden’ll get – Sec/State or DNI?

    Posted July 5, 2016 at 2:51 pm | Permalink
  6. Malcolm says

    Eric,

    The fourth box is likely to be opened soon.

    I certainly hope it doesn’t come to that. But this latest insult makes the tottering condition of the traditional American nation, and its hallowed institutions, very clear indeed.

    The spectacle awaiting us — this shameless woman, and this contemptuous President, trumpeting “vindication” together — is, for many millions of Americans, going to be tremendously inflammatory.

    Posted July 5, 2016 at 2:58 pm | Permalink
  7. Essential Eugenia says

    Our apologies for being so late to the Big Dog and Little Loretta party, Gentlemen, but the Ladies and I were still all a flutter with the fuss between our own dear Musey and Kevin Kim – enmeshed with The Big Henry, no less! – that, well, what with one scandal or another these days, it can be rather challenging to keep up!

    But let’s dish, shall we?

    The Ladies and I believe this moment calls for a shot of the best single malt. What’s your pleasure, Gentlemen?

    So, Eric, soap box, ballot box, jury box.

    Hmmm . . .

    Eric, the Ladies and I are unfamiliar. Would you explain, please, sir: What is the fourth box?

    About the single malt, Gentleman, up?

    Over?

    Bottoms up?

    Posted July 5, 2016 at 3:22 pm | Permalink
  8. the one eyed man says

    Malcolm, you should pay more attention to what I write. I told you that this latest right wing obsession was just another bright, shiny object. You scoffed.

    The facts and the law do not support an indictment. A statute intended to prevent people from stealing government files is inapplicable to corresponding on a private server. The charge that confidential information was passed on the server is dubious: apparently, none of it was confidential at the time it was sent or received. Intent matters, and there was no mens rea. No prosecutor would ever bring this case to court.

    Nobody else would be indicted, much less “clapped in irons,” for using personal email for government purposes: not Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, Condi Rice’s top aides, or Hillary Clinton. What they all did may have been careless or inadvisable, but it was not an indictable offense.

    General Patraeus did far worse – he knowingly gave highly confidential information to his mistress, and then lied to the FBI about it – and was given a slap on the wrist.

    Within the right wing bubble, Hillary Clinton was convicted based on slander, innuendo, and speculation. If she was indicted: she is guilty. If she was not indicted: the fix is in. Heads I win, tails you lose.

    James Comey is a man of unimpeachable integrity, who had no problem confronting the Bush administration when they tried to pull a fast one as John Ashcroft was hospitalized. Expect him to join John Roberts and Anthony Kennedy as honorable (and staunchly conservative) high government officials who get demonized and vilified for doing his job.

    A bad day for right wing conspiracy enthusiasts, a good day for the rule of law.

    Posted July 5, 2016 at 3:24 pm | Permalink
  9. JK says

    Uhm One-Eyed, say you was preparing to interview prospects for a bus driving position to haul your employees on a tour of Leptis Magna and Sabratha.

    After wading through one resumé after another you think, ‘Well maybe I can speed up the process by simply looking at how the DMV describes their driving habits!’

    The first description you come to states; “Extremely Careless.”

    Reckon that there’s your bus driver?

    Posted July 5, 2016 at 3:46 pm | Permalink
  10. Jonathan says

    Curious why what a statute is “designed for” has any bearing at all except in prosecutorial discretion. Prosecutorial discretion is the opposite of rule of law. The text says “intentional” OR “grossly negligent”. I say Hillary meets this and what’s more would qualify under ‘AND’.

    Posted July 5, 2016 at 3:48 pm | Permalink
  11. the one eyed man says

    Prosecutorial discretion inheres in the rule of law.

    That is why you don’t get a ticket going two miles over the speed limit, and it is why Dick Cheney was not indicted for shooting his friend in the face, even though both are examples of violating statutory language.

    Posted July 5, 2016 at 3:54 pm | Permalink
  12. As a service for the ignorant and obnoxious self-appointed “ladies”, a routine Google search reveals that the fourth box is the ammo box.

    Posted July 5, 2016 at 4:03 pm | Permalink
  13. Malcolm says

    Peter,

    Gosh, what a surprise to hear from you.

    A statute intended to prevent people from stealing government files is inapplicable to corresponding on a private server.

    Are you actually saying that top-secret emails aren’t “government files”? Really?

    The charge that confidential information was passed on the server is dubious: apparently, none of it was confidential at the time it was sent or received.

    This threadbare “talking point” is, of course, completely false, as was made explicit in Mr. Comey’s summary of what the FBI found:

    …110 e-mails in 52 e-mail chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received. Eight of those chains contained information that was Top Secret at the time they were sent; 36 chains contained Secret information at the time; and eight contained Confidential information, which is the lowest level of classification.

    Can’t you read? I mean, we all know you are “in the tank” for this hideous woman, this destroyer of lives and coddler of rapists, this engine of global devastation, this co-director of an international criminal syndicate, this peddler of American interests to the highest bidder, this congenital liar, this venal, grasping sociopath, this Platonic Form of naked, ruthless ambition — but can you not read?

    Intent matters…

    Not according to James Comey’s opening remarks:

    Our investigation looked at whether there is evidence classified information was improperly stored or transmitted on that personal system, in violation of a federal statute making it a felony to mishandle classified information either intentionally or in a grossly negligent way

    … and not according to 18 U.S. Code § 793:

    …through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust…

    You wrote:

    If she was indicted: she is guilty. If she was not indicted: the fix is in.

    She is obviously guilty. Therefore the fix, just as obviously, is in. If this were a right-wing candidate you would be screaming bloody murder, and you know it.

    Vote for this felon if you like, Peter. Spare us the lectures, though. You embarrass yourself.

    Posted July 5, 2016 at 4:36 pm | Permalink
  14. Kevin Kim says

    A possible silver lining?

    Posted July 5, 2016 at 5:09 pm | Permalink
  15. Truman says

    One eyed – you’re deluded.

    Posted July 5, 2016 at 5:43 pm | Permalink
  16. JK says

    Hey Kevin.

    Apologies for not getting back to your “Hope it was a good’n” sooner but, Yes it was. And I came out this year without even a belly wound! Admittedly I was soberer than 2012 and thereon.

    Incidentally Kevin, that link you just put up?

    That’s a good’n too. Back atcha:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Kiriakou

    Posted July 5, 2016 at 6:06 pm | Permalink
  17. Kevin,

    Look at that last paragraph again, because, if the Republicans have any brains at all, they will be quoting it ad infinitum.

    I don’t think there is much silver in Roger L. Simon’s lining, for two reasons: first of all, I don’t believe the Republicans have any brains at all; and second, even if they did have some, the ignorant, as well as the willfully ignorant, liberals would simply shrug it off.

    For the straight-up ignorant liberals, because 0bama phone. For the willfully ignorant, because willfully ignorant.

    Posted July 5, 2016 at 6:11 pm | Permalink
  18. Troy says

    The fourth box is likely to be opened soon.

    I don’t know what is left Malcom, but as far as I am concerned, the Republic is dead. I will tolerate Trump just to see what he does. I do not consent nor will I recognize the legitimacy of Hillary Clinton.

    Posted July 5, 2016 at 6:16 pm | Permalink
  19. Malcolm says

    Peter,

    One last time (because to be honest, I’m amazed that even you would say what you have about this):

    Our investigation looked at whether there is evidence classified information was improperly stored or transmitted on that personal system, in violation of a federal statute making it a felony to mishandle classified information either intentionally or in a grossly negligent way

    Furthermore:

    For example, seven e-mail chains concern matters that were classified at the Top Secret/Special Access Program level when they were sent and received. These chains involved Secretary Clinton both sending e-mails about those matters and receiving e-mails from others about the same matters. There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position, or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding about these matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation.

    And:

    Separately, it is important to say something about the marking of classified information. Only a very small number of the e-mails containing classified information bore markings indicating the presence of classified information. But even if information is not marked “classified” in an e-mail, participants who know or should know that the subject matter is classified are still obligated to protect it.

    How on Earth is this not “gross negligence”? Mrs. Clinton willfully, intentionally, and repeatedly circumvented security safeguards that, in Mr. Comey’s own words, “any reasonable person” would have taken pains to observe. Indeed, the gross-negligence standard isn’t even necessary here as far as criminality is concerned; it is, however, amply sufficient.

    Yet here you are, repeating flimsy excuses, such as the absence of classified material, that Mr. Comey explicitly refutes. It’s one thing to have differing political views, or axioms about social priorities, but the comment you left here is something else altogether: a Baghdad-Bob level of denial and propaganda, in the face of obvious, contradictory facts. It seems, frankly, kind of deranged.

    Posted July 5, 2016 at 6:58 pm | Permalink
  20. JK says

    I’m reminded to ask. Been in your archives at the “direction of” and, well … we realize how it fares.

    Today, at age 49, after more than twelve years with Sifu Berman, and with knees creaking, I completed my final test – the Ng Lung Ba Gwa Cheung Spear Form – and attained the rank of Jo Gow, my second black belt, twenty-five years after the first.

    Been awhile ain’t it my Friend?

    Posted July 5, 2016 at 10:36 pm | Permalink
  21. Whitewall says

    I guess the FBI now has a dual mandate-
    Protect the country from terrorists since the family of FBI people live here with us, and two, protect high government officials from the tedious consequences of breaking the law.

    What’s next-high ranking military officers are allowed to take home a small nuke to keep in their basement just in case?

    Posted July 6, 2016 at 8:01 am | Permalink
  22. Malcolm says

    JK,

    Yep, it’s been a while. I went on to Sifu rank in the Tang Fung Hung Ga system after writing that post. Now I want to focus on Jook Loom Praying Mantis, which I first learned so long ago under Master Chung.

    Posted July 6, 2016 at 12:28 pm | Permalink
  23. Whitewall says

    When a free people finally come to grips with what has been done to them by their “leaders” and those who are supposed to be the “watch dogs” over the powerful…there are revelations from many quarters. The ugly truth even reaches the faithful. We owe them nothing, these people who have assaulted us. We dare not trust them ever again.

    https://stream.org/with-hillary-clinton-in-the-white-house-christians-would-be-in-a-fight-for-civil-survival/

    Posted July 7, 2016 at 8:11 am | Permalink
  24. Eric says

    One eyed man:

    Bryan Nishimura and Kristian Saucier will beg to differ.

    quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi, I suppose. But I suspect that Hillary will discover that she’s not nearly as Iovi as she believes.

    Posted July 7, 2016 at 12:51 pm | Permalink
  25. antiquarian says

    I note, with interest but not much surprise, that OEM has not responded to his filleting.

    The real problem with OEM’s name is that he’s in the Land of the Two-Eyed.

    Posted July 7, 2016 at 11:18 pm | Permalink
  26. The OEM rarely responds to (and never initiates a conversation with) anyone but Malcolm, and then only if he thinks he has the upper hand against his adversary (or if he senses he can succeed in either baiting or needling him).

    Posted July 8, 2016 at 2:13 am | Permalink