If you’ve watched the news this year, you’ve heard almost too much about Hillary Clinton’s email account. You may be tired of hearing about it. You may not want to hear about it again. But, the rise of partisan journalism sparked news sources to heavily prioritize ratings over an unbiased presentation of the facts as they stand, so we desperately need a fresh, objective take on the former Secretary’s cybersecurity practices while in office.
First off, a quick summary of those practices:
During her time Secretary of State, Clinton never used a state.gov email address. Instead, she solely operated on her private email account with her own personal server to communicate regarding matters of state. These “careless” practices, as put by FBI Director James Comey, went by the State Department until this past summer, when organizational authorities to a solicitation of records from congressional examiners. Staffers soon realized they couldn’t locate a single email sent to or from the government-verified email address belonging to Hillary Clinton.
So, did she do anything illegal?
“Our 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, or a second statute making it a misdemeanor to knowingly remove classified information from appropriate systems or storage facilities.”
He also noted that, “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.”
So, it is clear Secretary Clinton did make mistakes, was careless, and that she acted irresponsibly, so the notion that she has no reason to be punished puzzles me; especially due to these comments made directly by Director Comey:
“To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now.”
And so, many political pundits began asking, “Should she drop out?”, “Should she be punished?”, and, “Did she do anything to risk our safety?”
Having heard enough opinions on those issues, I will instead compare the outcome of Secretary Clinton’s investigation with others who acted irresponsibly with sensitive information.
More than ten such cases exist, but I am going to concentrate on two particular situations.
First off, I want to talk about a man named Peter Van Buren.
He was a Foreign Service officer for Secretary Clinton, who was let go from his well-earned, prestigious position for quoting a Wikileaks archive without approval from State Office security officers as was protocol at the time. In fact, the Washington Post reported that one of his terminating infractions was “showing ‘bad judgment’ by scrutinizing Clinton and afterward…”.
In sum, he carelessly mishandled sensitive information — and was fired immediately.
Now, on to Petty Officer First Class Kristian Saucier.
Saucier was accused of supposedly using a cellphone camera to take photographs in the atomic submarine, the USS Alexandria, where he worked. After learning he was under scrutiny, he obliterated a tablet, camera and memory card to cover his tracks. He was arraigned on one count of unlawful maintenance of National Guard data and another of impediment of equity.
So, we know two lower status government agents were punished, fired and charged for a single offense, and that Clinton was not after found to be violating State Department practice for four years.
Does something seem off to you, too?
Our justice system should not excuse someone solely because of her name and visibility, or the notion that justice is blind rings hollow.
Liberals and conservatives alike have much to say on the issue, but bias colors both sides’ perception of Hillary Clinton’s actions. However, when lesser known, less wealthy government employees acted irresponsibly with government communication — they were punished.
So it would seem, in some cases, status outweighs justice.