Clinton dodges charges, not scru­tiny

Cecil Whig - - OPINION -

The fact that the FBI de­cided not to pur­sue for­mal charges against for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Clinton for her use of pri­vate email servers to con­duct clas­si­fied com­mu­ni­ca­tion likely comes as a sur­prise to no one.

Or as her pre­sump­tive Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial op­po­nent Don­ald Trump put it: “THE SYS­TEM IS RIGGED!”

FBI Di­rec­tor James Comey made the un­sur­pris­ing an­nounce­ment Mon­day morn­ing, end­ing a more- thanthree-year in­quiry and sub­se­quent year­long bureau in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Comey re­ported that the FBI found that Clinton ac­tu­ally used more than one server and nu­mer­ous mo­bile de­vices dur­ing her four years in the State Depart­ment. And each of those, while de­com­mis­sioned, still con­tained troves of po­ten­tially sen­si­tive data ac­ces­si­ble to those with the right skills.

The FBI spent thou­sands of hours piec­ing to­gether each of the elec­tronic de­vices, search­ing email re­cip­i­ents from other ar­eas of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment and re­view­ing the 30,000 emails that Clinton’s le­gal team re­turned to the State Depart­ment in 2014.

In to­tal, the in­ves­ti­ga­tion found that 113 emails in 55 email chains have been deter­mined to con­tain clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion at the time they were sent or re­ceived. Eight of those chains con­tained in­for­ma­tion that was top se­cret at the time they were sent; 37 chains con­tained se­cret in­for­ma­tion at the time; and 10 con­tained con­fi­den­tial in­for­ma­tion, which is the low­est level of clas­si­fi­ca­tion. Sep­a­rate from those, about 2,000 ad­di­tional emails have been “up-clas­si­fied” to make them con­fi­den­tial to­day, al­though it was not clas­si­fied when they were sent.

While many pun­dits glossed over some of Comey’s finer points, we were par­tic­u­larly dis­turbed to hear that Clinton’s le­gal team — in pre­par­ing the large batch of emails to turn over in 2014 — did not in­di­vid­u­ally read the email con­tents, but in­stead re­lied upon search terms to iden­tify ap­pli­ca­ble ev­i­dence. Comey also con­cedes that this method likely led to some missed ev­i­dence, some of which was found by in­ves­ti­ga­tors in re­cip­i­ents’ email.

“It is also likely that there are other work-re­lated emails that they did not pro­duce to the State Depart­ment and that we did not find else­where, and that are now gone be­cause they deleted all emails they did not re­turn to State, and the lawyers cleaned their de­vices in such a way as to pre­clude com­plete foren­sic re­cov­ery,” he added. We’re sorry, what? Clinton has ar­gued that the re­main­ing email not dis­closed was per­sonal in na­ture, in­clud­ing ev­ery­thing from sched­ul­ing yoga classes to dis­cussing flower ar­range­ments for her daugh­ter’s wed­ding. Why then did her lawyers wipe the server’s hard drives so com­pletely that fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tors couldn’t re­trace her steps?

Comey said the FBI’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion looked at whether there is ev­i­dence clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion was im­prop­erly stored or trans­mit­ted on that per­sonal sys­tem, in vi­o­la­tion of a fed­eral statute mak­ing it a felony to mis­han­dle clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion ei­ther in­ten­tion­ally or in a grossly neg­li­gent way.

“Al­though we did not find clear ev­i­dence that Sec­re­tary Clinton or her col­leagues in­tended to vi­o­late laws gov­ern­ing the han­dling of clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion, there is ev­i­dence that they were ex­tremely care­less in their han­dling of very sen­si­tive, highly clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion,” he said.

De­spite that blis­ter­ing re­view, Comey took his foot off Clinton – a judge­ment that a Clinton ad­min­is­tra­tion per­haps won’t for­get.

“No charges are ap­pro­pri­ate in this case,” Comey said in mak­ing his an­nounce­ment. “Al­though there is ev­i­dence of po­ten­tial vi­o­la­tions of the statutes re­gard­ing the han­dling of clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion, our judg­ment is that no rea­son­able pros­e­cu­tor would bring such a case.”

Last week, At­tor­ney Gen­eral Loretta Lynch said she would fol­low the di­rec­tion of the FBI in the in­quiry even though she could still choose to pur­sue charges. Her an­nounce­ment came just a few days af­ter she was spot­ted meet­ing with Bill Clinton on the tar­mac of a Phoenix air­port.

Need­less to say, Clinton’s crit­ics did not take Comey’s de­ci­sion lightly.

“Only a fool would be­lieve that the meet­ing be­tween Bill Clinton and the (At­tor­ney Gen­eral) was not ar­ranged or that Crooked Hil­lary did not know,” Trump wrote on Twit­ter. “Crooked Hil­lary Clinton knew that her hus­band wanted to meet with the (At­tor­ney Gen­eral) to work out a deal. The sys­tem is to­tally rigged & cor­rupt!”

And Trump may not be alone in his opinion. Ac­cord­ing to the lat­est ABC News/Wash­ing­ton Post poll, re­leased two weeks ago, 56 per­cent of re­spon­dents dis­ap­prove of the way Clinton is han­dling ques­tions over her use of the pri­vate server.

While she may have beaten the crim­i­nal charges, the charges against her de­ci­sion-mak­ing may weigh heav­ier on her fu­ture.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.