Analysis by Reporting San Diego
Sep 5, 2016 (San Diego) By now you have heard a lot about the details of the FBI interview with Hillary Clinton and their decision not to charge. It is important to note some of the most important details, at least in our view. There are two points that stand out for us. The first is that she did not recall how original classification authority is generated. This is a point that anybody with a clearance will have to sign off on. She likely did. So not recalling this, is either the sign of a very good lawyer, or a Department of Justice that did not want to prosecute, and yes your mileage on this will vary. In our view it is the latter, and it has very little with Hillary Clinton in particular and all to do with her status in society. She is a member of an extremely well connected family, who speaks to the Attorney General of the United States regularly. They are in fact, on a first name basis. We all saw that when Bill Clinton met with the Attorney General at an airport tarmac. Them speaking only about the grandchildren does not pass the smell test.
There was another point that again does not pass any concept of feasible. This is the Special Access Program. These are the Crown Jewels of American intelligence. According to the FBI “Clinton recalled being briefed on special access program (SAP) information but could not recall any specific briefing on how to handle information associated with SAP’s.” This also raises another issue. We know that Sidney Blumenthal’s Email account had material that came from this program. He did not have a clearance either. Clinton says that she has no idea how Blumenthal, not a government employee, who lacks a clearance, obtained that material. This is not readily accessible material. Again, neither Clinton or Blumenthal is facing any kind of legal consequences for this.
One issue that many pundits have made hay off, but is really minor, is not recalling the date she was granted a clearance. There are a few reasons for this, and really, this is not that big of a deal. Most people will forget such details regularly. So we give her a pass on that.
What is a major issue is the use of electronic devices. Whether these were IPads, or blackberries, is immaterial. It is striking that hers were destroyed by staff using hammers. Why? There are protocols to protect intelligence in the destruction of sensitive electronics Using a hammer is not the complete process, and they should have been turned to the State Department for proper disposal. Corporations do this, and so does the Intelligence Community. Just as the Guardian, and their adventure with British Intelligence over the Edward Snowden leak.
This is straight from the documents released by the FBI: “When Clinton’s BlackBerry malfunctioned, her aides would assist in obtaining a new BlackBerry. After moving to the new device, her old SIM card was disposed of by her aides. Clinton did not recall how any data stored on the device was destroyed.”
She also seemed completely unaware that a Secretary of State would be a target of foreign actors while traveling abroad, We read in the material as follows: “While on international travel, Clinton never suspected her BlackBerry was tampered with, nor did she ever lose a BlackBerry while traveling. There were a few occasions where Clinton staff was provided with the secure cell phone, the Clinton did not recall the circumstances or frequency with which this event occurred.” Either she was extremely naive, or this was again, a very good lawyer.
The report also raises the medical issues regarding her concussion from 2012. This raises valid questions as to her fitness to the presidency, and it is no longer the conspiracy sites that revel in this stuff. The report is clear: “In December of 2012, Clinton suffered a concussion and then around the New Year had a blood clot. Based on her doctor’s advice, she could only work at State for a few hours a day and could not recall every briefing she received.”
Now likely she has recovered since and the bouts of memory loss are gone. Those are common after any head injury and her concussion was fairly serious from media reporting at the time. But this is not what matters, While the release has been received by partisans on both sides with the usual glee and expected language, it raises issues. For Democrats it has exonerated Clinton and legally it has. The optics are a different matter. She looks like a buffoon that really did not know what she was doing. For Republicans what are they hiding? And while likely there is not much to hide, it is part of the 30 years the Clintons have been under the microscope.
However, this shows something else. If Clinton was a mid level staffer at State she would have lost her job, her clearance, and likely faced prosecution. She did not have full control of intelligence information which would have been rather costly for any lower level staffer. She was a political appointee however, and one that is extremely well connected to the elite of this country. It reveals once again the unequal treatment under the law. She is not alone.
We are quickly developing into an oligarchy, where a selected few will hold power and make decisions for the many. These selected few will protect each other, and use those connections. Unlike Republicans who scream she got away with it again, because she is a Clinton, I would say she got away with it, because of her connections. She is far from alone. And a society where situations like this become common place there is a danger to legitimacy.
There are plenty of examples, sometimes they deal with white collar crime. These involve bankers and others well connected people, Senator Elizabeth Warren has documented this well in a report her office issued in January of 2016.
The report partially reads:
When government regulators and prosecutors fail to pursue big corporations or their executives who violate the law, or when the government lets them o with a slap on the wrist, corporate criminals have free rein to operate outside the law. ey can game the system, cheat families, rip o taxpayers, and even take actions that result in the death of innocent victims—all with no serious consequences.
The failure to punish big corporations or their executives when they break the law undermines the foundations of this great country: If justice means a prison sentence for a teenager who steals a car, but it means nothing more than a sideways glance at a CEO who quietly engineers the theft of billions of dollars, then the promise of equal justice under the law has turned into a lie. e failure to prosecute big, visible crimes has a corrosive effect on the fabric of democracy and our shared belief that we are all equal in the eyes of the law.
This report, issued by her office, brought to light something many Americans already suspect. We have two, if not outright three, systems of Justice. During the Barack Obama administration we saw the bail out of the banks. We can discuss whether it did save the economy or not, but we saw no prosecutions of executives that run the same institutions that led to the 2008 crash. This has created resentment, and was one of the primary grievances of the Occupy Wall Street movement. As Warren also states in the report, the Department of Justice gave fines to large corporate actors, every time, instead of prosecutions. They were also minor fines, accounting for less than 1 percent of their earnings.
Then we have other cases that are just as obvious of a two tier system, rigged to the wealthy (and in many cases white.) When Ethan Couch was given a very light sentence after four other teens were killed in a drunken driving incident. Initially the lawyer argued that Couch could not understand consequences since he suffered from affluenza, and had the experts to testify on this. The young teen was helped by his mother across the border, and finally, as an adult, he will serve 2 years in jail. This case was textbook. If he had been far less well connected and wealthy, Couch could have expected to serve 25 to life.
So is the case of Brock Turner, a Stanford swimmer, who received 6 months in jail for raping a young woman. If he had been black and not in the swim team he would be serving time, long time, in prison, This was the case of Brian Banks, who served 10 years for a crime he did not commit, partly on the advise of his lawyer he agreed to plead guilty. His lawyer told him that none would believe him since he was a strong young black man. So the lawyer played to the stereotype and looked for a plea bargain.
There are other examples. But this is the problem with this saga. Once again it shows that we live in a society that is deeply divided and that having the connections and the money does help. In a few cases having the correct melanin content also helps. And that is the far bigger picture in this case. When incidents like this become common, the system loses it’s legitimacy and can lead straight to social problems. Those who are on the wrong side of the stick will only take this abuse for so long.