Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Cruising the Web

So this week we celebrated Independence Day and the celebration of the founding of a nation based on the rule of law. And now we have the FBI Director basically waiving the rule of law for a powerful politician. In so many ways, how far we have come.

I can remember quite a few cases where judges have held public officials to a higher standard before the law. Police officers are held to "a higher standard of behavior by society, because they are stewards of the public trust." It has generally been argued as Edwin J. Delattre writes in his book Character and Cops: Ethics in Policing that
Those who serve the public must hold to a higher standard of honesty and care for the public good than the general citizenry does. Anyone likely to pursue self-interest and public or private excess -- even in ways tolerated among the citizenry -- does not belong in government.

A higher standard is not a double standard. Persons accepting positions of public trust take on new obligations and are free not to accept them if they do not want to live up to the higher standard.
Sounds pretty admirable right? Surely what is true for the cop on the street should be true for the Secretary of State.

Politicians being prosecuted for breaking the law actually received higher sentences because they had violated that trust that the public presumably places in public officials. FOr example Ohio Representative Bob Ney, was sentenced to a longer term in prison in the Jack Abramoff scandal exactly because, as the judge said, Ney had "violated the trust place[d] on him as a public official." The judge sentencing former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich spoke of exactly this same principle.
A corrupt governor can be "more damaging than any other office in the United States, except that of the president," Judge Zagel said before announcing the sentence.

"When it is the governor who goes bad, the fabric of Illinois is torn, disfigured and not easily repaired," Zagel said. "The harm here is not measured in the value of money or property. The harm is the erosion of public trust in government."
And now we see someone who has clearly violated the law according to the FBI director getting a pass with the weak-tea argument that no prosecutor would prosecute such a case. It is exactly because of who Hillary Clinton is that the case should have been prosecuted to demonstrate that we are still a nation of laws and that no one is above the law.

Comey's statement made it clear that Hillary Clinton had lied to the American people about her server. Lachlan Markay succinctly sums up the extent of Clinton's lies about her server.Yup. That sums it up.

Sean Davis summarizes how the times have changed.

Reason has put together a supercut video of statements by Hillary that James Comey's statement make clear were lies.
Coming soon to a political ad near you.

He deliberately used the word "careless" in describing her attitude towards national security. And then he switched and said that there was no "intent" to endanger national security. Since when is "intent" the criteria for breaking the law? Did David Petraeus have the "intent" to endanger national security when he let his girlfriend look at his diary? Of course not. Yet he was indicted and forced to accept a plea bargain to keep out of jail. How was his situation different from Hillary's?

Austin Bay writes that " the FBI sold out the Rule of Law in America."
Comey called this careless. Sir, it is reprehensible. It is reckless disregard of American security.

Then he said he would not recommend indictment.

This is beyond outrage. Everyone who has carried a Top Secret clearance and had access to Top Secret information knows that Clinton has criminally violated the laws protecting classified information. These laws serve a purpose. Protecting security secrets is essential to protecting America. (Link via Instapundit)

Think of the ramifications for any further allegations against others individuals who might violate these federal law. How can they prosecute anyone in the future for violating these laws unless that person blabs about his or her intent to break the law?

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Andrew McCarthy, a former prosecutor and former colleague and friend of James Comey, explains how everything that Comey said in his statement indicates that Clinton broke the law.
Hillary Clinton checked every box required for a felony violation of Section 793(f) of the federal penal code (Title 18): With lawful access to highly classified information she acted with gross negligence in removing and causing it to be removed it from its proper place of custody, and she transmitted it and caused it to be transmitted to others not authorized to have it, in patent violation of her trust. Director Comey even conceded that former Secretary Clinton was “extremely careless” and strongly suggested that her recklessness very likely led to communications (her own and those she corresponded with) being intercepted by foreign intelligence services.
So what did the FBI have to do in order to not recommend prosecution?
In essence, in order to give Mrs. Clinton a pass, the FBI rewrote the statute, inserting an intent element that Congress did not require. The added intent element, moreover, makes no sense: The point of having a statute that criminalizes gross negligence is to underscore that government officials have a special obligation to safeguard national defense secrets; when they fail to carry out that obligation due to gross negligence, they are guilty of serious wrongdoing. The lack of intent to harm our country is irrelevant. People never intend the bad things that happen due to gross negligence.

I would point out, moreover, that there are other statutes that criminalize unlawfully removing and transmitting highly classified information with intent to harm the United States. Being not guilty (and, indeed, not even accused) of Offense B does not absolve a person of guilt on Offense A, which she has committed.
McCarthy argues that Comey's discussion of intent was setting up a straw-man to distract the public from the laws that Hillary did indeed break.
It seems to me that this is what the FBI has done today. It has told the public that because Mrs. Clinton did not have intent to harm the United States we should not prosecute her on a felony that does not require proof of intent to harm the United States. Meanwhile, although there may have been profound harm to national security caused by her grossly negligent mishandling of classified information, we’ve decided she shouldn’t be prosecuted for grossly negligent mishandling of classified information.
And McCarthy is unpersuaded that no reasonable prosecutor would prosecute this case.
To my mind, a reasonable prosecutor would ask: Why did Congress criminalize the mishandling of classified information through gross negligence? The answer, obviously, is to prevent harm to national security. So then the reasonable prosecutor asks: Was the statute clearly violated, and if yes, is it likely that Mrs. Clinton’s conduct caused harm to national security? If those two questions are answered in the affirmative, I believe many, if not most, reasonable prosecutors would feel obliged to bring the case.

Frank Quattrone, who was indicted by James Comey for sending an email recommending the company retain documents before the holidays in a case that was eventually thrown out by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, is dumbfounded by Comey's recommendation not to prosecute saying that no reasonable prosecutor would prosecute such a case.Standards sure are different when it's the Democratic nominee for president involved.

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David French asks
a very relevant question: "would you hire Hillary Clinton?"
One of the many extraordinary things about this present political crisis is the reality that the Democratic establishment is lockstep behind a woman who has unquestionably failed the public in multiple, consequential ways — yet they believe she’s somehow triumphant because she’s not actually facing a criminal trial.
That has been the standard continually for the Clintons - sure they've done sleazy things, but no one can prove that they broke the law. Then look at her most notable actions in the past eight years: the Benghazi scandal, all the quid pro quo behavior alleged with the Clinton Foundation, and her emails. In all these scandals, we're told that there was no proof that she intended harm so she's free and clear.
See a pattern here? Even her unquestioned failures aren’t disqualifying unless they’re proven to be criminal. And since she’s arguably the most connected woman in a nation that no longer respects the rule of law, she’s virtually impossible to prosecute. Imagine if you were considering hiring her for any other job. She’s failed in her signature policy efforts, she lies habitually, and the stink of corruption pervades her entire operation. I wouldn’t hire her as a law firm receptionist, much less the chief executive of any entity.

I don’t know what’s worse — the Democratic party’s apparent total loss of conscience and regard for the truth (not that the GOP can throw stones right now — but at least its corrupt banana republic politician couldn’t garner majority support), or the fact that tens of millions of Americans simply don’t know, don’t care, or don’t care to know. Our elite is failing, and the American people aren’t just letting it happen, they’re facilitating our national fall.
We are now prepared to elect a woman to be commander-in-chief who would never be granted a top security clearance. Just think of that.

It's so heartbreaking as a conservative to think of how vulnerable Hillary Clinton is as a candidate right now. I think that most of the other Republicans running this year would be able to take advantage of her weaknesses and defeat her. Instead we have...Donald Trump. I'm sure he'll tweet out or say something stupid or outrageous or offensive in the next few days and all of cable news can zero in on that and ignore what Comey said about Clinton. This will be a short story that may play in the background for Republicans for the rest of the election, but everyone else will move on. It will just become part of the morass of scandal that follows the Clintons around like filth followed Pig Pen but it won't stop people, except for partisan Republicans, from voting for her.

If the Republicans weren't about to nominate such an unfit candidate, I would argue that, in a political sense, Comey's statement yesterday was the worst possible outcome for the Democrats. If he'd said he was going to indict her, there is time before the convention for the Democrats to decide that she could not be their nominee with that hanging over her head and force her to bow out or otherwise stop her nomination and swap in someone less objectionable, probably Joe Biden. Instead, Comey gave a devastating statement that made it clear that Hillary had lied to the public, endangered national security and definitely had classified information on her server, a server that was likely hacked by the nation's enemies. That statement made Hillary so vulnerable. As he listed what the FBI found, it was worse that had been alleged. And he made it clear what a liar she has been. These facts will appear in commercials throughout the election season. Roger L. Simon makes this argument at PJ Media.
I may be alone in saying this, but when the proverbial dust settles, James Comey may have hurt Hillary Clinton more than he helped her in his statement Tuesday concerning the Grand Email Controversy. He may have let her off the hook legally, but personally he has left the putative Democratic candidate scarred almost beyond recognition.

By getting out in front of the Justice Department, the FBI director, speaking publicly in an admittedly unusual fashion, was able to frame the case in a manner that Attorney General Loretta Lynch in all probability never would have.
He points out that other individuals who had done something similar "are often subject to security or administrative sanctions." In other words, they would have been fired or denied security clearance.

Any reasonable candidate could capitalize on her weaknesses. Instead we have a GOP candidate who is as or more unfit for public office than she is.
What Comey is clearly saying (and leaving for us to "decide now") is that--whether you agree with his decision not to indict or no (I don't)—in a normal, real-world situation Clinton would face consequences, quite probably be demoted or even fired, certainly not promoted to the presidency of the United States, for what she did.
Think of that. An ordinary individual would face consequences. Hillary Clinton...not so much.

As Jonah Goldberg writes,
He began by saying intent didn’t matter under the law. But even so, do we believe that she didn’t intend to set up the server? Do we believe that she didn’t intend to put her privacy and political security above national security? She’d been warned about the server and did it anyway. I’m obviously no lawyer but that looks like intentionality and willfulness to me....

I don’t think she was disloyal to the United States, I just think she was more loyal to herself – and she got away with it. Comey strongly suggests that if she’d been some staffer at the State Department she’d probably be fired or otherwise sanctioned. But that’s not an option now. Instead, she gets the green light for her party’s nomination for president of the United States. You can be sure that in a future Clinton administration she would impose such sanctions on the peons who worked for her. Comey has played his part in putting Clinton above the law. Maybe he had no choice for reasons I don’t completely understand. But that doesn’t mean this whole spectacle isn’t disgusting.

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Here is a story of how Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State wanted to treat someone who violated the laws that she herself was violating.
Peter Van Buren can’t wait for the court-ordered release of Hillary Clinton’s work emails from 2011, a nearly ruinous year for him that resulted in a negotiated retirement from the State Department.

The foreign affairs arm of the federal government, then led by Clinton, had accused the longtime foreign service officer of mishandling classified information and unsuccessfully asked the Justice Department to prosecute him....

At the same time Clinton, now the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, was using her private and apparently unsecure email system, Van Buren lost his security clearance and then his job as a result of what he views as false allegations of mishandling information that wasn't secret at all.

John Sexton at Hot Air links to another example of different treatment for those not named Hillary Clinton for those accused of mishandling classified information.
A Navy sailor entered a guilty plea Friday in a classified information mishandling case that critics charge illustrates a double standard between the treatment of low-ranking government employees and top officials like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and ex-CIA Director David Petraeus.

Prosecutors allege that Petty Officer First Class Kristian Saucier used a cellphone camera to take photos in the classified engine room of the nuclear submarine where he worked as a mechanic, the USS Alexandria, then destroyed a laptop, camera and memory card after learning he was under investigation.

Last July, Saucier was indicted on one felony count of unlawful retention of national defense information and another felony count of obstruction of justice. He pleaded guilty Friday to the classified information charge, which is part of the Espionage Act, a prosecution spokesman confirmed. No charge of espionage was filed and no public suggestion has been made that he ever planned to disclose the photos to anyone outside the Navy.

The sailor now faces a maximum possible sentence of up to ten years in prison, but faced up to 30 years if found guilty on both charges. Federal guidelines discussed in court Friday appear to call for a sentence of about five to six-and-a-half years, although the defense has signaled it will seek a lighter sentence.

It has taken long to get lists like these: Jeff Dunetz lists five Americans jailed under the Obama administration for mishandling classified information.
Really? Since Obama took office in 2009, seven people have been charged under the Espionage Act — all for leaking classified or sensitive information. Five—John Kiriakou, Shamai Leibowitz, Jeffrey Sterling, former State Department official Stephen Kim, and Bradley Chelsea Manning — got jail time.”

Skipping Bradley Chelsea Manning because his leak was in a category of its own, the other four shows that there are “reasonable” prosecutors who will bring charges in such cases.
Dunetz concludes,
Understand all of the names above (including Chelsea Bradley Manning) deserved the punishment they received, they all violated US Statute 793, subsection F (see below). Some of their crimes hurt the defense of the country more than Hillary Clinton, others less but that does not matter, like Clinton, they all broke the law. While unlike Comey’s description of Hillary they all acted with intent, but it does not matter since the criminal statute does not require intent.

That these people were prosecuted and Hillary Clinton was not, is proof that there are two sets of rules in the country, one for the Clintons, and one for the rest of us.

And here is another example of a lowly individual facing worse consequences than Hillary Clinton.
A Naval reservist was sentenced for mishandling classified military materials.

A federal attorney announced Wednesday that Bryan Nishimura of Folsom, California, pleaded guilty to the unauthorized removal and retention of classified materials.

Nishimura, deployed in Afghanistan in 2007 and 2008 as a regional engineer, admitted to downloading classified briefings and digital records onto his personal electronic devices. He carried the materials off base and brought them back to the U.S. when his deployment ended

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.

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Well, I was right - Trump went out and said something idiotic and appalling so that the media focus could happily shift away from Hillary and onto him.
Donald Trump on Tuesday once again expressed his preference for keeping dictators in power in the Middle East.

While acknowledging that Saddam Hussein "was a bad guy," Trump praised the former Iraqi dictator's efficient killing of "terrorists" -- despite the fact that Iraq was listed as a state sponsor of terrorism during Hussein's time in power.
Trump, who supported the Iraq War before the invasion and in the early months of the war, said the U.S. "shouldn't have destabilized" Iraq before pivoting to praising Hussein.

"He was a bad guy -- really bad guy. But you know what? He did well? He killed terrorists. He did that so good. They didn't read them the rights. They didn't talk. They were terrorists. Over. Today, Iraq is Harvard for terrorism," Trump said.
Instead of praising Hussein, couldn't he have talked about Obama's role? No, much better to praise a strong man. Because he just can't stop himself from praising dictators. Even dictators who sponsored terrorists, but don't expect Trump to care about the details. Back in December he was pooh-poohing Hussein's use of poison gas.
Saddam Hussein throws a little gas, everyone goes crazy, 'oh he's using gas! They go back and forth. It's the same. And then they were stabilized.
That's what Trump said before the primaries even began. And people went out and voted for him. I still have trouble wrapping my mind around that.

Expect to have this story of Trump's praise of Saddam Hussein paired all day long in the media with any discussion of Hillary's dishonesty and reckless approach to national security.

He's the gift that keeps on giving ... to the Democrats.