Hillary Clinton

Why Hillary Clinton Has Privileges That Edward Snowden Doesn't

In the halls of power, how classified information is handled is ultimately less important than who's handling it.

|

Dale Messick

When the feds decided not to prosecute Hillary Clinton for her email scandal, the double standard was obvious: Whistleblowers such as Thomas Drake and Edward Snowden are hounded for how they handle classified information, while powerful people like Clinton skate. The difference isn't just that Clinton has a lot more clout than Drake or Snowden. It's that they were bringing some sunlight to secret activities that their higher-ups did not want exposed. Clinton was not doing anything of the kind, and indeed may have been using a private server precisely to avoid public scrutiny.

But there is an even larger double standard here. The federal government classifies an absurdly large amount of information. Much of this material would harm no one if it were revealed—or, if you prefer, would harm nothing larger than the reputations of the bureaucrats who hid it. The result of this overclassification is a lot like the results of overcriminalization: Whether you're punished or rewarded for revealing something secret depends on the whims of the enforcers and the culture in which they operate.

So on one hand, Washington can react to events like the WikiLeaks affair with a full-fledged Leak Scare, prosecuting more people and instructing employees to watch their coworkers for such supposedly suspicious behavior as "sleeping at the desk" and "expression of bizarre thoughts." Meanwhile, some of the same officials encouraging that crackdown will quietly take a leak into the press sometimes themselves. The targeted transmission of secret information is now a central if unofficial part of the political system, and it has been for a long time; it's been more than half a century since Marshall McLuhan wrote about "government by news leak," that alchemy by which "the magic flexibility of the controlled news leak" can transform a secret into a trial balloon. In the age of overclassification, some of those "controlled" leaks will be technically illegal, but whether they're treated as such will depend on who leaks them and why. "It is now almost routine," the Moynihan Secrecy Commission noted in 1997, "for American officials of unquestioned loyalty to reveal classified information as part of ongoing policy disputes—with one camp 'leaking' information in support of a particular view, or to the detriment of another—or in support of settled administration policy."

Hillary Clinton wasn't leaking anything in her emails—not on purpose, anyway—but she was operating in an environment where how classified information is handled is ultimately less important than who is handling it. When FBI Director James Comey recommended that Clinton not be prosecuted, he declared that "this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences." That may be the most cuttingly accurate assessment of the current political order that you'll hear from any American official this year.

Advertisement

NEXT: Trump Meets with Congressional Republicans, Hilarity Ensues

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Clinton, Obama, Lynch, Comey and everyone else in this corrupt shit show can go eat a bag of dicks. Hell, make it a dick eating contest. The winner gets a bigger dick to eat.

    1. two best comments I have seen today:

      1. The most outrageous lies that can be invented will find believers if a man only tells them with all his might. Mark Twain

      2. Haven’t spoken to all the agents involved?

      You got something more important going on, Comey?

      “I’m too stupid to be dishonest”- gee, where have we heard THIS defense before?

      1. Seinfeld? Seriously, this is getting into Costanza defense territory. “Was that wrong? Should I have not have done that?’

    2. I’m making over $15k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life.
      This is what I do_________ http://www.trends88.com

  2. I just heard a clip of Comey saying the decision was made by people who “don’t give a hoot about politics.”

    Justice is truly blind.

    And deaf.

    And dumb.

    1. Well now we know he’s a liar.

    2. And sure plays a mean pinball.

    3. not to mention too fucking stupid for words

  3. OT: has anybody been watching the comey testimony? Can’t while at work.. Are the republicans doing something approaching a competent job making the point obvious, she is guilty and got away with it or are they just asking idiotic questions towards no real point?

    1. Gowdy went after Comey pretty good, but I didn’t see how it ended.

    2. Sort of, a few of them are doing a decent a job of asking follow-up questions. That said, about 90% of the questions are nonsense, usually just repeats of questions already asked.

      1. Except I watched a bunch of “experienced Ex-AG and lawyers” joust the strawman of INTENT. That has no bearing on the statute being cited and that the government has imprisoned several citizens for this in the last few years. This was FYTW, and if any of you think you can do this, you can’t.

        http://www.washingtontimes.com…..t-keeping/

    3. Not watching… but there’s some stuff showing up on FB about Trey Gowdy’s “absolutely demolishing” Hillary’s talking points during questioning.

    4. I listened to part of it. There were a few points that I found noteworthy:

      1) Comey would not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation including the Clinton Foundation. He clearly stated that emails around the Clinton Foundation were NOT a part of this investigation.

      2) Comey said that people without security clearance were consciously given access to the server. Specifically admins of the server (more than 2, less than 10 individuals) did not have security clearance. Comey also said that Ms Clinton’s attorneys who supposedly went through the emails and deleted them did NOT have clearance. However, Clinton’s staff denies that.

      3) The investigation scope did not include whether or not Clinton lied during testimony to congress, and the GOP has just asked the FBI to open a new investigation into that case.

  4. The proper terminology is apparently “failure to follow e-mail protocol”. now.

    Hillary just used the wrong cover sheet; big deal.

    1. Look, it’s not her fault that technology became so complicated. Let’s be honest. What this is really about is that CIS male shitlords like yourself are afraid of a strong, competent woman like Hillary. GO TEAM GO!!! BLUE TEAM, BABY!!! #I’mWithHer

      /progs

      1. My mom is older than Hillary, and has a basic idea of how servers work. And even she called BS on Clinton’s defense.

    2. Clearly she didn’t get the memo. Let’s send her a copy of the memo.

    3. Hillary just used the wrong cover sheet; big deal.

      “I’ll make sure she gets another copy of the memo, mmm’kay.” /Obama Lumberg

    4. Cover sheet? So now she’s using the TPS defense?

  5. “expression of bizarre thoughts.”

    …Installed under every bureaucrat’s desk

  6. Hillary Clinton wasn’t leaking anything in her emails?not on purpose, anyway?but she was operating in an environment where how classified information is handled is ultimately less important than who is handling it.

    This is the thing. As a Snowden supporter, I wouldn’t characterize what Snowden did as the same or equivalent of what Hillary did.

    Hillary, in an attempt to hide her personal activities– especially where they merged with her position as Secretary of state– from Freedom of Information Act requests, she ended up sending classified material on her personal server.

    Everyone wants to think of Hillary’s issue as a “mishandling of secret shit”. That’s part of it. The real crime was her intentional circumvention of FOIA rules by conducting her public business on a private server, negligently exposing national secrets.

    1. It is noteworthy that whether or not she was circumventing (with intent or not) FOIA requests was not the scope of this investigation. Per Comey, this investigation was just to determine if there was criminal mishandling of secret information.

      Unfortunately, most of the public will accept the talking points that “FBI investigated fully, and Clinton did nothing wrong. Let’s hear nothing more about her emails.” In fact, there are plenty of possible crimes, but they only investigated one.

      1. Yep Comey refused to comment on the investigation of the Clinton Foundation. So, who knows on that one?

        1. Want to make a bet how thorough the investigation is ? Me either.

      2. Which is funny because their take down of Petraeus started in a local field office over a complaint of cyber-harassment. Somehow, this led to a full on investigation of Petraeus’s relationship with his mistress.

      3. Is circumventing FOIA a crime though? If it is, it would seem they would have her since she wrote an email that essentially said exactly that. But as far as I know, it’s not a crime.

        1. The statute says jail/fines are potential punishments.

  7. Wanna try a cool experiment?

    Ask one of your prog friends if Clinton got off easy because she’s a rich, privileged old white person.

    Then the fun begins!

    1. The response I got was, “She’s only being investigated because she’s a woman”

      1. The only proper follow up question, “So is that why she got the Sarah Palin treatment?”

      2. “You’re only saying that because no one will ask to see proof”

        1. that she’s actually a woman?

    1. I think a necessary part of being an artistic type is taking yourself seriously when it is seemingly impossible to do so.

  8. BTW, have you been h4xxed, Reason, why does every article have “meh” in the subhed?

    1. I think you might have an add-on messing with you. I haven’t seen any articles with meh in them.

      1. meh

      2. Being in IT, I don’t run add-ons.

        Reason went down for a few seconds, then came back up and all the ‘meh’ is gone.

        1. and all the ‘meh’ is gone

          I still see Chapman’s article

          1. Robby posted twice.

  9. Principals are more important than principles, duh.

  10. Sadly, this outcome is actually better than a half-assed (or more likely tenth-assed) prosecution designed to get a “not guilty”verdict.

  11. Obstruction of justice
    Destruction of evidence
    Mishandling classified material
    Violations of the FOIA (with confirmed intent)
    Perjury

    5 obvious crimes that I can think of off the top of my head that they already have evidence for. Certainly enough evidence to justify prosecution, at least it would be for you or me or Martha Stewart.

    1. As noted above, those crimes were not the scope of this investigation. As near as I could tell from Comey’s parsing, the investigation was limited to “Mishandling sensitive documents”.

  12. Excellent photo choice and alt text.

  13. If she knew any information on her server had been illlegally removed from its proper place of custody and not reported it she is guilty under Title 18 Section 793 (f)(2). Is a private email server the proper place of custody for SAP info?

    1. Is a private email server the proper place of custody for SAP info?

      No. Not that it matters.

    2. It doesn’t matter because Comey is clinging to the notion that people who did similar things weren’t prosecuted. It isn’t that the law doesn’t apply or it wasn’t broken, but that Comey claims such breaches haven’t been prosecuted.

      So the gross negligence statute has only been applied once in a case that involved espionage. Applying it to Clinton would have been “star hunting.” This from the guy who charged Martha Stewart for lying to federal agents.

      Problem here – the Obama administration has already routinely set new lower standards for what is or isn’t prosecuted under the Espionage Act. People already prosecuted by after FBI investigations were done so using new standards gladly set for those new cases.

      But they won’t do that for Hillary.

      1. The only issue with that is no one ever came close to having as much classified information on the computer. For a normal person after two or three they would be counselled. After 10 they would probably be suspended without pay. After 11 they would lose their clearance.

        So pretty much the only job Hillary can do involving classified material is be President. She would not get a clearance through normal channels.

        Personally, I think Hillary believes there are two types of information, what she wants to know and what she doesn’t want you to know. National security concerns don’t matter. If she wants to reveal the name of an undercover agent to her hairdresser, she is going to and if you disagree, go insert yourself into the business end of the nearest wood chipper.

  14. One almost is left to wonder if Snowden’s actions a few years ago ends up being a POSITIVE to Hillary, as far as intent, as Snowden is a case in point of INTENDING on disseminating classified information, and since Hillary wasn’t doing THAT, that that’s the comparable standard. So, Hillary was just trying to have one place to clear her emails, and instead of mingling her private emails – like setting up pussy parties and selling access to the Chinese – she mingled her business stuff on her own private system. So, no intent to Snowden shows she was mostly just harmless. Of course, the poor sap who left a scrap of paper on a desk overnight making big ones into little ones in Kansas has little comfort, but it seems that since Hillary was not intending on exposition, she is supposed to get off and it can sell on the street.

    1. If the FBI got a hold of Snowden, a shooting in the interview room when he went after the agent’s fire-arms would be a very mild shock to my sensibilities.

  15. From the alt-text:

    This picture represents the concept of ‘throwing the book’ at someone, in this case Mr. Drake or Snowden. Thanks for asking!

    See, I thought it might represent Hillary Clinton perpetrating domestic violence against her husband–as has been reported:

    “Hillary Clinton hit Bill in the head with a book after Monica affair”

    “During the height of President Bill Clinton’s Monica Lewinsky scandal, a White House maid entered the bedroom to clean and was shocked to find the president and first lady’s bed covered in blood.”

    http://tinyurl.com/jsgfhpr

    Maybe there’s another kind of privilege that Hillary enjoys–the privilege of spousal abuse.

  16. RE: Why Hillary Clinton Has Privileges That Edward Snowden Doesn’t
    In the halls of power, how classified information is handled is ultimately less important than who’s handling it.

    Well, duh!
    Heil Hitlary is one of the ruling elitist filth who enslave us all.
    She is entitled to all our private information for the sake and security of The State and to satisfy her own itching curiousity.
    Snowden is nothing more than a low level apparatchik who foolishly believed we live in a free country.
    Who would you rather doing their job?
    I think we all know the answer to that one.

  17. The greatest threat to America is not ISIS, or Russia, or China, but Hillary Clinton as president of the USA.

    1. You left out “president of the USA with an unsecured server.”

  18. Lynch Obama and Clinton.

    See how damaging leaving out a comma can be? Grammar, live and die by it.

    1. I can only think of two people that would be damaging to…

  19. State dept reopens email probe

    http://m.newser.com/article/39…..ified.html

  20. uptil I saw the receipt which was of $4452 , I accept …that…my mom in-law woz like truley bringing home money part time from their laptop. . there neighbour haz done this for only 9 months and resantly paid the loans on there condo and purchased a gorgeous Cadillac . go to this site …..

    CLICK THIS LINK=====>> http://www.earnmax6.com/

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.