Equal Before The Law
Comey, Clinton, and the Fiction of the American Ideal
Ah, American democracy: global standard-bearer for freedom, justice, and equality.
There is only one problem. Unfortunately, to channel George Carlin, it is an ideal which is imaginary, made up — like the boogeyman, the three little pigs, Pinocchio, Mother Goose — shit like that.
Americans who have travelled the world may be familiar with sewing a Canadian flag on their luggage to protect themselves from the backlash their country’s imperialistic geopolitical strategy incurs. And now Americans at home are having stuffed down their throats a presidential race between the two most unlikeable, scandal-ridden politicians … is ‘ever’ too strong of a word?
There is good news, however. A ruse the magnitude of the fiction of ‘American Democracy’ prefers and perhaps requires operation in the shadows, away from the glare of public scrutiny. For every fresh investigation into electoral fraud, every video of police officers murdering citizens, every person who can’t feed their families or themselves on minimum wage, or every death from lack of health care coverage, the narrative is further exposed as the fragile control mechanism that it is.
The ‘rule of law’ is a pretty fundamental pillar of this narrative. “All are equal before the law,” we are told; whether you are an African-American man accused of selling loose cigarettes on the street or a presidential candidate accused of treasonous activity.
Yesterday, in what is being presented as the conclusion of the Hillary Clinton indictment saga, FBI Director James Comey made a mockery of this ideal, jamming his thumb into the eye of the American people with his mind-boggling statement on the investigation. Unfortunately for Comey and his masters, the statement only served to peel back another layer of the onion that is the American narrative, further exposing the bitter, reeking innards.
Hold your noses, this onion is rotting.
An auspicious start by Comey as he has laid out the parameters of the investigation, putting forth the three most vital questions the investigation sought to answer in assessing potential criminality. First, was the information in question classified? Second, was it handled by Hillary Clinton in a ‘grossly negligent’ way? The third question is implied in his mention of the federal statute, which refers to the information being “lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed.”
Luckily for us, Comey answers all three questions.
Was the information classified?
“110 emails have been determined to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received”
For most of the duration of the investigation Hillary and her lackeys in the media parroted the notion that any of the information within her emails deemed to be classified would have been done so retroactively, thus excusing her from culpability.
The investigation concluded that not only were a number of the emails classified at the time of their handling by then Secretary Clinton, but that “even if information is not marked classified in an email, participants who know or should know that the subject matter is classified are still obligated to protect it.”
Was the information handled in a ‘grossly negligent way’
“Any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position should have known an unclassified system was no place for that”
“There is evidence that they [Hillary and colleagues] were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information”
A funny thing about language: Even in an age of 140 characters and the aggressive condensation of vocabulary, synonyms still exist. A synonym of “extremely” would be “grossly.” A synonym of “careless” — “negligent.”
Comey leaves little doubt that the investigation found Hillary Clinton to have been ‘grossly negligent’ in her handling of classified material.
Was this information likely ‘lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed’
“She also used her personal email extensively while outside the United States, including sending and receiving work-related emails in the territory of sophisticated adversaries. We assess it possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal email account”
It is interesting to imagine Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger discussing classified information over the phone during their historic trip to China. Of course, imagination would be the only place for this scenario to exist as it would have been obvious to both men that their phone conversations would have been listened to and recorded while in potentially hostile territory.
And yet Hillary Clinton, famed world traveller, carried her country’s most precious secrets with her on a device that any low-level hacker could access. One can imagine intelligence directors across the world praying to whatever god they recognize for one more visit from Secretary Clinton.
Perhaps this helps us to understand how someone so despised in her own country is such a popular global emissary.
This was the story in which NFL quarterback and all-American poster child Tom Brady was accused of deflating footballs before a game in order to gain a competitive advantage. A ludicrous scenario to compare to the mishandling of national secrets, to be sure. But recall that the eventual punishment given to Brady was said to be due not to proof of “deflating,” but rather because he destroyed his cell phone after investigators asked him to turn it over.
“The FBI also discovered several thousand work-related emails that were not part of the group that were returned by Secretary Clinton — 3 that were classified at the time they were sent. It is also likely that there are other work-related emails they did not produce and that we did not find elsewhere. The lawyers cleaned their devices in such a way as to preclude complete forensic recovery”
Once again, Comey has laid things out in an unambiguously black and white manner. Perhaps I should use terminology more easily understood by Secretary Clinton: He has laid things out in a “superpredator” and “upstanding citizen” manner.
Hillary Clinton and her lawyers removed and destroyed classified information after being asked to turn over all relevant emails, and did so thoroughly enough to prevent recovery by the most sophisticated forensics in the world.
It appears that Comey has presented an open-and-shut case. The information was classified, it was handled with gross negligence (or ‘extreme carelessness’ if you prefer) by Hillary Clinton, resulting in it likely being accessed by hostile actors. Evidence of this crime was then destroyed by Hillary Clinton and her lawyers.
If it seems simple that is likely because you are still thinking of America as a place where ‘all are equal before the law’.
Sadly, I have some bad news.
This is the Director of the premier law enforcement agency in America stating that although someone appears to have broken the law — and not just any law, but a law governing the protection of national security — that person should not only not be punished, but should not even be tried in a court of law.
The claim that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case seems first like a novice use of an absolute, easily disproven by finding one prosecutor who would bring the case (of which there are surely many), and additionally like quite straightforwardly the opposite of reality. In a situation where the evidence overwhelmingly points to a very serious crime having been committed most, if not all, prosecutors would feel obligated to bring the case. This would, in fact, pretty much be their job description.
So how, you may wonder, could Comey make such an overtly preposterous statement?
Warning: Straw man ahead!
“There are obvious considerations, like the strength of evidence, especially regarding intent”
“We did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton intended to violate the law”
“All [previous] cases prosecuted involved some combination of clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information, [or] vast quantities of materials exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct”
It is perhaps ironic that in the Wizard of Oz the man made of straw was the one looking for a brain. Return to the language of the law in question and you will notice that “intent” is simply not part of the equation. The law specifically criminalizes “gross negligence” in order to bestow a unique obligation upon officials tasked with handling the most sensitive of information.
In defending Hillary’s intent, Comey defends the irrelevant. Like somebody investigating a bank robbery, determining that an individual had robbed the bank, but advocating against punishment because the individual had not used a stolen getaway car.
Yes, intentionally disseminating classified information is illegal, but no more or less illegal than doing so through gross negligence.
On July 4th, one day before Comey’s day of infamy, it was America’s 240th birthday. For most of those 240 years, an individual who broke the law in such a way as to compromise classified national security information would have been hung in the town square. Thankfully, America has mostly moved beyond such barbarism (with apologies to Saddam Hussein). But to suggest that such a criminal should not only escape punishment altogether, but should be chosen as the leader of the country? Only in a place where some are above the rule of law could such a suggestion exist.
Welcome to America. God save the Queen.