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A sad day for Mr. Comey and the FBI
His decision leaves the impression that Hillary is ‘too big to jail’
WASHINGTON TIMES EDITORIAL
July 6, 2016
James B. Comey obviously had little taste for a head-on collision with Hillary Clinton, despite the remarkable bill of particulars he presented with his announcement that there will be no prosecution of the lady who is expected to be the Democratic nominee for president. Even more remarkable, he acknowledged that Mrs. Clinton may be too big to jail.
“To be clear,” he said, “this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity [like Mrs. Clinton‘s] 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.”
He so far offers no explanation for how he came to this conclusion, leaving it to the public to decide whether it’s Hillary position, her prominence, or her candidacy that puts her beyond the reach of the law. It’s a sad day for the republic, for Mr. Comey and his seriously damaged reputation, and for the credibility of the FBI.
For almost 150 years, the United States avoided establishing a national police force. When the Founders adopted the Bill of Rights as the first amendments to the Constitution, Thomas Jefferson and the Virginians pushed for the adoption of the 10th, to reserve all rights and prerogatives not specifically named as federal functions, to the states.
More than a century later, President Theodore Roosevelt established the first federal “investigative service,” reporting to the attorney general. Gen. Charles Joseph Bonaparte, a Baltimore descendant of the Little Corporal, organized it after Congress had denied the president the authority to combine other federal policing agencies for fear of creating a secret police.
The new agency’s first major assignment was to pursue enforcement of the 1910 Mann Act against involuntary prostitution, popularly called white slavery. The FBI took on vigorous life with enforcement of Prohibition two decades later, and its name was officially changed to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
J. Edgar Hoover, an astute veteran of Washington political infighting, built its reputation and directed the agency for a remarkable 48 years. Mr. Hoover’s FBI made its bones with the pursuit of urban criminal syndicates of the 1930s. After Pearl Harbor in 1941, the agency took on a new role in investigating lapses in national security, continuing after the terrorist threat arrived with 9/11 and the Patriot Act.
The FBI’s modern mandate derives from Title 28 of the United States Code, Section 533, which authorizes the attorney general to “appoint officials to detect and prosecute crimes against the United States.” Other federal statutes give the FBI responsibility to investigate specific crimes.
The director’s 10-year appointment, unlike any other federal appointee, has encouraged the effort to make it an independent agency, even if quartered in the executive branch under the president and his attorney general.
James B. Comey Jr. became director in 2013 for a full 10-year term after a distinguished career as a federal prosecutor and deputy US attorney general. Mr. Comey’s greatest test was the investigation of Hillary and her freelance emails.
There’s another Clinton episode coming — such episodes seem never to end — about the issue of the Clintons’ family foundation, repository of millions of dollars worth of “charitable” contributions, some of them from foreign donors. They’re all fast friends now, and it’s not yet clear what all the donors bought with their dollars.
II On Hillary emails, Comey’s evidence clashes with Comey’s conclusions
By Charles Hurt
The Washington Times
July 11, 2016
So it turns out that while you can indict a ham sandwich, indicting our top diplomat for “extremely careless” handling of national secrets at a time of war against the most determined and diabolical enemy we have ever faced — well, that is just a waste of time. Inconvenient. Awkward.
The Democratic National Committee may not have publicly listed FBI Director James B. Comey on the schedule for its upcoming convention in Philadelphia, but the party gave him the highest-profile, prime-time speaking gig of the entire convention.
Heck, his speech Tuesday officially kicking off Hillary Clinton’s campaign for President Obama’s third term was the highest-profile convention speech for either party in modern political history.
What Mr. Comey delivered was stunning in its brassy disdain for justice and for the hard work of his dedicated agents, even as his stated logic behind the decision not to indict was utterly confounding.
Literally, as a drone-like Mr. Comey delivered his mystifying political haiku to reporters, Air Force One was being gassed up and prepared for liftoff, and a fleet of Marine helicopters began revving their rotors to pick up President Obama and ferry him and his hopeful successor — the unindicted Hillary Clinton — to their first joint event of the 2016 campaign.
By his own account, Mr. Comey’s investigation “looked at whether there is evidence classified information was improperly stored or transmitted on” Mrs. Clinton’s illegal bathroom server. Almost immediately, things got complicated when he explained that, in truth, it was “several” illegal servers the FBI had to scour, and most of them had been scuttled or somehow otherwise destroyed.
Still, they were able to determine over 100 emails contained “classified information at the time they were sent of received.” Eight were “Top Secret at the time they were sent.”
Some additional 2,000 were of such a sensitive nature that anyone with then-Secretary of State Clinton’s security clearance should have known that they should not have been sent over an unsecured email system.
“None of these emails should have been on any kind of unclassified system, but their presence is especially concerning because all of these emails were housed on unclassified personal servers not even supported by full-time security staff, like those found at departments and agencies of the US government — or even with a commercial service like Gmail,” Mr. Comey said.
The FBI uncovered even more messages that were clearly marked classified among emails that Mrs. Clinton did not turn over.
And this is where things start to get really strange with Mr. Comey.
The FBI director said there is “no evidence,” however, “that any of the additional work-related emails were intentionally deleted in an effort to conceal them.”
OK, so they were unintentionally deleted, or they were intentionally deleted, but not in an effort to conceal them? They were deleted in an effort to be transparent? Deleted in order to make them public? We are just having a hard time following here, Jimmy.
In addition, Mr. Comey said, there were even more emails that may have contained more secrets that were sent over the illegal bathroom server that FBI agents could not find. Those unseen emails “are now gone” because the Clintons deleted everything and their “lawyers cleaned their devices in such a way as to preclude complete forensic recovery.” Again, all in an effort by the Clintons to be transparent or something.
As for “hostile actors” who spend every second of every day trying to gain access to America’s secrets, Mr. Comey said his agents found no “direct evidence” of a breach but also determined that they would not even be able to detect such a breach at this point. But given Mrs. Clinton’s reckless disregard for email security and flagrant use of unsecured servers even while traveling abroad, “It is possible that hostile actors gained access” to her classified emails.
Yet out of all of this, Mr. Comey found “reasonable confidence” that there was no effort to conceal emails from investigators and determined that that,that, “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring any charges against Mrs. Clinton.
‘I am starting to think that maybe Mr. Comey has a skewed idea of what is “reasonable.” I guess that depends on what the definition of what “is” is.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama arrived in North Carolina, and the president — Mr. Comey’s boss — declared that he was “fired up” and “ready to go.”
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