Thursday, July 07, 2016

Inconsistent justice for mishandling classified material

Conor Friedersdorf has some observations about the treatment Clinton received on classification issues in Hillary Clinton got the political insider treatment, and that's a problem Los Angeles Times 07/06/2016:

Her apparent intent in setting up a private server was to subvert the Freedom of Information Act and protect her communications from bureaucratic review, public scrutiny and political criticism. In other words, her reasons for jeopardizing classified secrets were wholly self-serving. And as she sought votes in the primaries, Clinton repeatedly misrepresented the nature of her behavior in numerous false statements.

Compare her motives to those of whistle-blowers such as Thomas Drake, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, who broke rules governing classified information in order to expose government wrongdoing. The “context” for their rule-breaking was a post-9/11 national security environment in which state agencies engaged in numerous instances of unconstitutional behavior, from torture to mass spying on innocents. Yet they all faced or face decades in prison. (Manning has been confined to a cage since 2013.)

Only a longstanding member of the establishment like Comey could believe that Clinton's selfish, careerist intent was more excusable, if not more elevated, than Drake, Manning and Snowden’s selfless and self-endangering behavior.
Glenn Greenwald has some criticisms of his own in Washington Has Been Obsessed With Punishing Secrecy Violations — Until Hillary Clinton The Intercept 07/05/2016: "As has been widely noted, the Obama administration has prosecuted more leakers under the 1917 Espionage Act than all prior administrations combined." (emphasis in original)

Greenwald says explicitly, "Looked at in isolation, I have no particular objection to this decision. In fact, I agree with it: I don’t think what Clinton did rose to the level of criminality, and if I were in the Justice Department, I would not want to see her prosecuted for it."

He goes on to say:

But this case does not exist in isolation. It exists in a political climate where secrecy is regarded as the highest end, where people have their lives destroyed for the most trivial — or, worse, the most well-intentioned — violations of secrecy laws, even in the absence of any evidence of harm or malignant intent. And these are injustices that Hillary Clinton and most of her stalwart Democratic followers have never once opposed — but rather enthusiastically cheered. In 2011, Army Private Chelsea Manning was charged with multiple felonies and faced decades in prison for leaking documents that she firmly believed the public had the right to see; unlike the documents Clinton recklessly mishandled, none of those was top secret. Nonetheless, this is what then-Secretary Clinton said in justifying her prosecution:

I think that in an age where so much information is flying through cyberspace, we all have to be aware of the fact that some information which is sensitive, which does affect the security of individuals and relationships, deserves to be protected and we will continue to take necessary steps to do so.
Like the Wall Street tycoons whose systemic fraud triggered the 2008 global financial crisis, and like the military and political officials who instituted a worldwide regime of torture, Hillary Clinton is too important to be treated the same as everyone else under the law. “Felony charges appear to be reserved for people of the lowest ranks. Everyone else who does it either doesn’t get charged or gets charged with a misdemeanor,” Virginia defense attorney Edward MacMahon told Politico last year about secrecy prosecutions. Washington defense attorney Abbe Lowell has similarly denounced the “profound double standard” governing how the Obama DOJ prosecutes secrecy cases: “Lower-level employees are prosecuted … because they are easy targets and lack the resources and political connections to fight back.” [emphasis in original]
Here is a report by The Young Turks on the outcome of the FBI's investigation, Hillary Clinton Avoids Criminal Charges 07/05/2016:

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