One Sentence Explains Why the FBI Didn’t Go After Hillary Clinton

The FBI declined to suggest that Clinton’s private server was worthy of criminal prosecution. Much ink and many electrons have been spilled over this matter, but ultimately the reason it doesn’t rise to a criminal offense is this quote from the law enforcement community,

“the recipients of the most sensitive emails included aides or diplomats who have clearances to receive classified information”

That is, while she did have classified documents on her server in violation of good security protocols, the only people who saw those documents were cleared to see them.

As an analogy, consider a store manager who wants to get a large deposit to the bank. She has $20,000 in cash, and the proper procedure is to call for an armored car. Instead, she hops in her car and takes it to the bank herself. While protocol has been bypassed, and the trip was potentially risky, all the money got to the bank.

Contrast this with the Petraeus scandal. In his case, the secrets were handed over to his mistress, a person who was not cleared to see classified information.

Many on both the left and the right and claiming that the system is rigged, that power has played a role here. Undoubtedly, that colors the matter, and it always will. If a pilot had bombed Iraq of his own accord in 2003, they would have been court-martialed, but the president did it on evidence that has been shown to have been fabricated, and faced no consequences. The Wall St. housing crisis provides countless comparable examples.

The point here is not, however, the imbalance of consequences among the powerful, but what exactly happened to the classified documents. None of them were improperly leaked. The were all transmitted to people who had the proper clearance to see them. It’s somewhat more troubling that Clinton denied ever having classified documents. I’d be much more sanguine had she said that her emails contained material necessary to her job, without attempting to go into detail. Most politicians however, seem to loathe admitting to mistakes even more than the average person, and denial is a typical first line of defense.

It should also be noted that governments leak classified material all the time when it suits them, and that even David Petraeus was not convicted for leaking classified information, but for lying to the FBI. Hillary Clinton used poor judgement with regard to information security, but she never exposed classified information.