Wednesday, July 6, 2016

FBI and GOP at Loggerheads over Clinton Email Investigation - the Devil's in the Details


On Tuesday, July 5, FBI Director James Comey gave a press conference in which he announced that the FBI had completed its investigation into former Secretary of State (presumptive Democratic presidential nominee) Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server for official emails during her tenure at the State Department. While Comey described her and her staff as ‘extremely careless’, he was quite clear in stating that there was nothing turned up in the investigation that would warrant criminal charges. He did say that the actions, had it been some other employee, might have warranted security or administrative action, but went on to say that the FBI did not find any evidence that Clinton or her colleagues ‘intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information.’

Unsurprisingly, hotheads in the GOP are already having puppies over this decision. Comey has already been summoned to appear before the Senate Oversight Committee, where he will no doubt be grilled mercilessly as to how he could possibly come to the conclusion he did after the GOP has spent so much time creating this so-called scandal. They were so sure, after all, that Comey, who formerly served as an Assistant Attorney General in a Republican Administration, would come up with findings that supported the elaborate fairy tale they’ve concocted.

This just goes to prove that they’re so lost in the fantasy land they’ve created that they overlook the obvious. Comey might be a Republican, but he’s also a professional who has a character trait most of them seem to lack—integrity. If he thought a crime had been committed, by Republican or Democrat, I have no doubt he would have recommended an indictment. If they’d bothered to study his history, that would have been clear. But then, I’m accusing these guys of having critical thinking skills, when clearly they’ve demonstrated for the past decade they only have the ability to be critical.

Another thing they’ve apparently failed to do is pay attention to what he said. I mean his exact words. While the use of a private server was a ‘careless’ act that would have earned a low-level employee security or administrative sanctions, being careless is not criminal. If that were the case, the GOP would all be put in jail for their ‘extreme recklessness’ in shutting down the government in a snit because they couldn’t get their way, or their incessant ‘perjury’ in claiming that the Affordable Care Act has hurt people who now have health coverage for the first time.. As someone who served as a low, mid, and high-level government official for over thirty years, I can agree that there are two standards when it comes to administrative punishments. One has only to look at the case of General David Petraeus who, after admitting that he gave classified material to his mistress, was given a slap on the wrist and allowed to retire with full pension. Had he been a sergeant or a captain, he’d probably be occupying a bunk at the Disciplinary Barracks in Leavenworth right now, or a best would have been given a general (less than honorable) discharge. That’s a bad situation, but it is what it is. There are two standards, one for the big shots, and another one for the rest of us.

While it might be a terrible, even unfair, thing, it’s not a crime, not in a legal sense. It’s like the recent court decision that found that a State Department officer punished with a bad performance evaluation and relief from duties for refusing to violate a regulation, had no protection under the Whistle Blower Act because he hadn’t been ordered to violate a ‘law.’ The court made a clear distinction between ‘laws’ and ‘regulations.’
Oh, and one little point the pointy heads in the GOP keep ignoring; the State Department didn’t have clear regulations on the use of private email until after Clinton left office. Her two previous predecessors both used private email. Of course, both of them were Republican, so we’ve heard nothing about investigating or prosecuting them.


I don’t expect the GOP to come to its senses any time soon. But, we, the voters, need to keep clear heads about this. We need to deal with facts, not innuendo, reality, not the political fantasy that’s cooked up by people who will do or say anything to con you into voting for them—or voting against their opponents.