Monday, January 9, 2017

Of Emails and Scandals and Justice

…US Intelligence Community (USIC) agencies determined that 81 e-mail chains, which FBI investigation determined were transmitted and stored on Clinton’s UNCLASSIFIED personal server systems, contained classified information ranging from the CONFIDENTIAL to TOP SECRET/SPECIAL ACCESS PROGRAM levels at the time they were sent between 2009-2013. The USIC determined that 68 of these e-mail chains remain classified.  In addition, the classification determination process administered by the US Department of State (State)….identified approximately 2,000 additional e-mails currently classified as CONFIDENTIAL and 1 e-mail currently classified as SECRET…..were transmitted and stored on at least two of Clinton’s personal server systems.
*bold and italicized emphasis is mine.

 This is big, people. HUGE. Not only has the former Secretary of State sent and received security classified e-mails on an unclassified personal server, but the very department for which she was responsible has a classification system of said information. Former Secretary of State Clinton is on record stating she has no idea how the information classification system OF THE VERY DEPARTMENT SHE IS IN CHARGE OF is determined. She has also stated that she does not remember receiving any briefing or training from State on the retention of federal records or the handling of classified information.

Clinton further states she knows she is an Original Classification Authority (OCA) at State. This means she is responsible for determining whether information should be classified and at what level.  Clinton states she cannot recall how often she used her OCA, or ever receiving training or guidance from State on how to perform classification, therefore she relied on other career foreign service professionals to correctly handle and mark classified information.
Now, if we are to believe she had no clue 1) how to classify information, 2) whether or not information should or should not be classified, 3) how to handle said classified information, or 4) where to store classified information, why the hell was she in a position that does exactly that? Why has she not been arrested for at least mishandling of classified information? Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

Before anyone says, ‘hey, she was the Secretary of State, and the federal law on classified information doesn’t pertain to her because she is a ‘head of state.’ WRONG.

18 U.S. Code § 798 states “…Whoever knowingly and willfully communicates, furnishes, transmits, or otherwise makes available to an unauthorized person, or publishes, or uses in any manner prejudicial to the safety or interest of the United States…”
The simple act of using unclassified personal e-mail servers is in violation of this law. An unclassified server is not secure and therefore not authorized for sending, receiving, or storing classified information.  Clinton said she asked former Secretary of State Colin Powell who said he also used private email. That’s like telling the cop who pulled you over for speeding to let you go because the guy in front of you was speeding too.
One may claim that former Secretary Clinton didn’t intend to disseminate classified information and thereby no law was broken.
Wrong again. Intent does not matter. The law does not say anything about intent. Just ask Petty Officer First Class Kristain Saucier who took cellphone photographs of the inside of a nuclear submarine on which he was stationed.  Intent did not matter. It was the fact Saucier had the photographs on an unsecured device. Saucier was sentenced in August 2016 to a fine of $100 and one year in prison.  (Two shipmates of Saucier also took photographs at different times. Their sentences did not include prison time like Saucier. One defendant received a $560 fine, the other no fine but a drop of one rank (who is currently up for officer promotion)).
Clearly intent does not matter. And clearly sentencing is arbitrary at best.

Let’s talk General Petraeus. (Stop groaning…I’m going somewhere with this…). Petraeus resigned from the CIA after news about his mistress surfaced. Subsequently, it was found that he kept hand-written black books with confidential, classified, and top secret information. Yes, he did give the black books to his mistress who was writing his biography. But what got him in trouble was the fact that he kept the books after resigning from the CIA and signing a disclosure statement saying he did not have any such classified or top secret information in his possession. He did. A warrant later proved that those black books were in an unlocked drawer of his downstairs desk.
So now we have a lying general who willfully gave classified information to an unauthorized person….he didn’t get in trouble….but then lied again saying he didn’t have classified information which was later found in his home, unsecured. That’s where they got him and then they added in the previous charge.
The similarities to former Secretary Clinton are there. She didn’t have intent to disseminate but intent is not needed to be found guilty, as Saucier and two shipmates found out. She did have classified and top secret information unsecured, for which Petraeus was found guilty. She also states she didn’t know how information was classified even though she is a person responsible for determining classification.

At the very least, former Secretary Clinton is either a master of deception or incredibly dumb. Either way, she should not escape justice because of her (former) position. If people in lower positions receive fines and/or jail time, so should she. Charge her and put her on trial.

The American people lose faith in government because the rules we must live by seemingly do not apply to government officials (or celebrities). When you have one group escaping justice while another is held to the letter, there will be highly charged discord.

The American people demand justice. While it is understood that sentencing is seemingly arbitrary given the specifics of each case, what should not be arbitrary is the charge and trial of those who commit crimes. Joe Blow on the street must follow the rules. It's high time our own government does as well.

Justice is not just a woman holding scales. There's a reason there's a sword in her left hand. 

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