I understand that it takes a great deal of time to work through all of the available data, all of the available information on the big issues of our time. I understand that. I also understand that many people simply don’t have that kind of time. They are busy earning a living, raising kids, clipping coupons, caring for their elderly mother, or all of the above.
These people have limited time to get their information, and they invariably go to some source that, for whatever reason, they have come to trust.
Unfortunately, those people paid to sway public sentiment understand that as well. That’s why they know they can put out purposely false and misleading information and get away with it.
As a result, there is so much false and misleading information out there that almost everyone has come to mistrust just about everything unless it re-enforces what they already believe.
I post here on The Curmudgeon’s Lair and have been doing so for years. I try to footnote anything that might be controversial in my essays. I keep records of all the original sources. I don’t know why I do that any longer. It is possible to tell from the analytics available to the site how many people actually click on one of those footnotes. You know how many do? In the last two years, with hundreds of links cited, there have been two. People checked my sources twice in two years. And it was the same person in both cases.
Either I am more trusted than I think I am, or people just don’t care about sources. I vote for number two.
I see that every day in the vast number of social media posts that come across my screen.
People don’t care where information comes from.
They equate information from Politicalpatriotsforassblather.com with information from The New York Times or the Washington Post.
And because there is so much misinformation on sites like patriotsassflappinginthewind.com, people have come to also mistrust the Times and the Post, as well as every other still-legit paper or magazine around today.
What people care about is whether they can identify with what is said. The media is no longer a way to get accurate information so people can reach an intelligent decision. The media is now a means to get identity confirmation for preconceived beliefs.
I had really thought that the entire email “scandal” hanging over Hillary Clinton would be over by now. Obviously, I was wrong. There is plenty of information out there that should end it, but people don’t want that information. They want memes that say “Hillary lied,” and “Hillary for Jail,” because the sources behind those emotions are playing to what those folks want to hear. They want to hear that Hillary Clinton lied; she broke the law, and she should be in jail.
Let me ask you this: what law did she break? Do you have any idea what law she broke? Probably not. It takes time to dig that sort of thing out of the thousands and thousands of pages of crap on this subject.
We are not talking about guidelines or internal rules. We are talking about laws. Laws are the things that you can be put in jail for, not guidelines and rules.
Now people are calling for the head of James Comey because he refused to prosecute Clinton. First of all, the FBI doesn’t prosecute anyone. Ever. That’s not their job.
Comey did not recommend that the Justice Department prosecute Clinton. And he’s a Republican.
Ooooo… big difference. No. Small difference. But cases like this are made up of small differences. In matters of the law, words matter. Even little words. Especially, words in laws. Nothing is black or white in the law. Nothing is either-or. Everything is open to interpretation.
“Although there is evidence of potential violations regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case,” he said. (1)
The words which Comey chose here are very important. “Potential violations” of what? Again, what laws have been violated? You will not find an answer to that in Comey’s statement.
“In looking back into our investigations into the mishandling or removal of classified information, we cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts,” Comey said. “All the cases prosecuted involved some combination of: clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information; or vast quantities of information exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct; or indications of disloyalty to the United States; or efforts to obstruct justice. We do not see those things here.” (2)
“Vast quantities” of information and “intentional and willful mishandling,” “intentional misconduct” or “indications of disloyalty.” Where does all this very specific language come from?
Actually, it comes from U.S. Code Title 18. Part I> Chapter 37> § 793.(3) That’s the law that might apply here. There are a number of parts to look at.
Part A talks about anyone who “for the purpose of obtaining information respecting the national defense with intent or reason to believe that the information is to be used to the injury of the United States, or to the advantage of any foreign nation,” and then goes on to talk about going onto a base or flying over an installation, etc. There is nothing here that could pertain to Clinton’s emails. But the section in (my) bold is critical to the rest.
Part B talks about “attempts to copy, take, make, or obtain” for the same purpose “anything connected with the national defense.” Again, doesn’t apply.
Part C again talks about things done for the same purpose only this time receiving or obtaining information. Doesn’t apply.
Part D says that whoever lawfully has possession of something and “willfully communicates, delivers, transmits or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted or attempts to communicate, deliver, transmit or cause to be communicated, delivered or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it on demand to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it;”
An argument could be made that Hillary failed to deliver all her emails to the State Department when asked to do so. It is doubtful that a case could be made that she willfully failed to do so.
Part E says the same thing about unauthorized possession and doesn’t apply.
Part F is the heart of the matter. Part F states that “Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, note, or information, 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.”
And there you have it.
Parts A through E require proof that the person or persons in question have “intent or reason to believe that the information is to be used to the injury of the United States.” Hillary Clinton is clearly not guilty of that. There has never even been any allegation that what she did was done with the intent of injuring the United States.
Part F states that if you are entrusted with a document and through gross negligence you allow that document to be removed from its proper place of custody, you are guilty of a crime. If, through gross negligence, you allow it to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, you are guilty of a crime. There is no evidence that the Clinton emails were ever hacked. They were not stolen. So the entire case against Clinton is that she “lost” or “destroyed” classified information, through gross negligence.
Comey accused Clinton’s staff of being “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.” Does that equate to gross negligence? Apparently, Comey did not think that the case law on these matters indicted that it was, because he did not recommend prosecution.
It is easy to say that it was all a conspiracy.
Conspiracy is the easy way out.
But when you look at the facts, something else becomes apparent.
The number of classified emails in question was constantly shifting as reporting on this story developed. At the time Comey refused to recommend prosecution the number was 110 emails. By the time the State department weeded out mislabeled communications and those classified after the fact and Comey was in front of congress, the number was down to three: Three emails that did not have the proper classified headers. Three emails that were, in fact, classified “confidential,” the lowest category, and essentially contained phone call lists. Three emails that, according to the FBI, contained the small letter “c” in the text which was supposed to indicate that they were classified.
When asked if even someone well-versed in classified communications might easily miss that insufficient marking, Comey had to admit, in sworn testimony, that they probably would.
And even if you could make the case that Hillary Clinton mishandled these three emails (not really a vast quantity, is it?) through gross negligence, that she destroyed others through gross negligence, or that she never should have had a server in her home in the first place and to do so showed gross negligence, the Director of the FBI would still never recommend prosecution. And no reasonable prosecutor would ever bring the case.
Not because there is a conspiracy to elect Hillary Clinton, not because Comey is on her payroll, but because if she were prosecuted for gross negligence in handling her emails, the door would be opened to also prosecute Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, George W Bush, Dick Cheney and others. They did exactly the same thing she did. They used non-governmental servers and they deleted emails. The country will not put all its recent public figures in jail for doing something we now think is stupid with their emails.
That’s why no prosecutor would bring the case. That’s why Comey had to recommend that Justice not file charges.
The American people are not tired of hearing about her damn emails. But they should be. They have been misled and duped and used. Misinformation and misdirection have done their job. This whole thing has been a sham. You either recognize that what she did was common practice or jail ’em all. Oh, wait. All those other guys… they’re Republicans, aren’t they.
So… Republicans have been screaming that Hillary should be put in jail for mishandling emails, knowing full well that if she were prosecuted it would almost certainly mean that at the least that two Republican Secretaries of State would also find themselves facing similar charges, and at the worst you can add a Republican president and vice president. And they could never allow that.
This has never been about sending Clinton to jail in the eyes of the political operators – only in the eyes of the electorate they have duped. This has never been about prosecuting her. This has been about finding opportunities to call her a liar and to discredit her in front of the conservative base, in front of the voting public.
Enough with the damn emails.
Your Humble Servant,
Roger A. Shipley, The Willowbrook Curmudgeon
If you agree with this essay or find it informative, please help spread the word and share with others.
If you would like notifications of new essays when they appear, click here and check “subscribe” on the top right.