Hillary Clinton above the law?

The gavel: a symbol of judgment and rule of law. It should not be consistent with Don’t tell your mother. But it is when it stands for judicial abuse. What happened to good judgment in America? Or are we left only with scandal?
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Hillary Clinton inherited some (not all) the “slick” quality of her husband. Bill Clinton, when an attack comes, turns on the charm. Hillary Clinton appeals to envy of those who have anything worth protecting. (And also to a sense of excitement: “Don’t you want to see the first woman President?”) She might yet skate on her breaches of the law. Everyone, from the highest official to the citizen casting a ballot, must now decide whether to let Hillary Clinton skate or not. When they decide, they must decide something else. Will America still govern itself under rule of law? Or will America exchange rule of law for rule of clique? If those in authority selectively apply the law, they must accept “rule of clique” as the logical endpoint.

Latest Hillary Clinton news

The FBI now has the long-lost private e-mail server Hillary Clinton made. Did she “relent“? More likely, the FBI sent her lawyers a letter to this effect: “We can do this the easy way or the hard way.”

Is Hillary Clinton above the law?

Hillary Clinton. Photo: US Department of State

The FBI had to act. An Inspector General, looking at 30,000 e-mails to and from Hillary Clinton, found spy satellite photos on two of them. And he told Congress. The IG went further: this kind of material normally gets the highest classification. The IG laid it out: “TOP SECRET//SI//TK//NOFORN.” Or to expand: Top Secret, Special Intelligence, Talent Keyhole (referring to the spy satellite that took the shots), Not for Foreign Eyes.

More than movie and television actors use phrases like “Top Secret.” As Rush Limbaugh would likely say, phrases mean things in government. “Top Secret” means something so sensitive that, if it ever got out, governments could fall, here or “over there.”

More to the point: General David Petraeus saw his life come to ruin after he “mishandled” information with a lower classification: “Confidential,” actually the lowest of three grades. (They call the middle grade “Secret.”)

No one should be making jokes here. Don Adams would blush at this, if this broke ten years ago while he still lived.

Recall: Hillary Clinton always said she never received, nor sent, e-mail on that private server that held any information anyone had marked “classified” at the time. Then one of two things happened:

  1. Someone copied Hillary Clinton (or someone else having an account on her server) on those spy-sat photos without marking them TOP SECRET, etc., as he should have. Or:
  2. Someone else, maybe Huma Abedin, confidante to Hillary Clinton, stripped the markings from the body, the “headers,” or both.

Anyone doing the first, did a galactically stupid and careless thing. Anyone doing the second, broke the law. Anyone who stores classified material, but especially TOP SECRET material, in the wrong place, could pay a fine, go to prison for less than ten years, or both. (Title 18 USC section 1924.) And anyone who transports classified material the wrong way can go to prison for ten years. (18 USC section 793) In fact, whoever sends classified material to the wrong place, does wrong. And whoever knows about it and does not report it also does wrong and can suffer the same penalty.

Above the law

No one should even have to debate what should happen now. Someone should go to prison for this. That includes Hillary Clinton. For in setting up that private server, she failed to encrypt it for at least three months. Nor did she take as many precautions as a commercial e-mail provider usually takes.

Why did she do this? To skate on Freedom of Information Act requests. Why else? America now sees classic Hillary Clinton style. She holds herself above the law. She always has. She did while First Lady of Arkansas. She did again as First Lady of the United States.

What will happen to Hillary Clinton now? And what should happen? One finds two different answers from two different sides of the political spectrum. Did George Washington mean to warn us against this, way back when? We see party loyalty, or ideological fidelity, overriding the law.

Jamelle Bouie, writing in Slate, laments the harm to the Hillary Clinton campaign. She “blundered” by using a private e-mail account. She tries to keep things too quiet for her own good. She never gives a straight answer. All these things, says Bouie, make her less attractive as a candidate. And for all that:

Among Democrats? She’ll be fine. But if some start to rethink her electability, I won’t blame them. The press distrusts Clinton and holds her to a different standard than other politicians, while Republicans just despise her.

Fine?!? And if suddenly she can’t win, she can blame the press? Bouie loses all sight of the real issue. She broke the law. What part of “TOP SECRET” doesn’t Bouie understand? CNAV does not know who writes his script. But neither Mel Brooks and Buck Henry (Get Smart) nor Cubby Broccoli or his daughter at EON Productions (the James Bond people) could have thought of this one.

Charles C. W. Cooke at National Review asks the right question: why can’t we believe Hillary Clinton might really go to prison for what she did? Wouldn’t anyone go to prison for a thing like this? (Even Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept chastises her for carelessness and hypocrisy. He asks why she should skate while Bradley/Chelsea Manning, the WikiLeaker, went to the brig.) Cooke can have only one answer, and he doesn’t like it: Send Hillary Clinton to prison? Seriously? Don’t make us laugh!

There, people of America. Now decide. Do you want to see high officials apply the law selectively and let their friends skate on things for which “lesser lights” go to prison?

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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