Lesser men have been aggressively prosecuted for lesser offenses. Bryan Nishumura, a Navy reservist who served in Afghanistan as an engineer in 2007 and 2008 was found guilty of downloading “classified briefings” to his personal laptop. The FBI discovered no evidence that he had planned to distribute the information either maliciously or for profit. He was subsequently given two years probation and fined $7,500. His security clearance was permanently discontinued.
The pilfered information may have been mission critical. But within the scope of the universe of classified information, it would have been a relatively compartmentalized pimple..
With this simple template so freshly minted, one would need to wonder how James Comey, Director of the FBI, might possibly have concluded that the comparatively gigantic trove of information that Hillary Clinton flagrantly mislaid and negligently misused might not also have fallen into the category of similarly prosecutable. Given the size and depth of the breach, there is no way that Comey’s decision will not make future enforcement close to impossible. As in Nishumura’s case he may not have found intent to distribute but the temerity with which the act was carried out, in conjunction with high level a of government at which the breach occurred, will set a pardonable benchmark that Comey had to have known will be substantially injurious to future enforcement.
This brings me to my point. Or perhaps I should call it my hope, that Comey intentionally hit the mat with good intent. I am praying that Comey understood that regardless of the grievous and inexcusable nature of Clinton’s indiscretions, that the nation would be cynically manipulated into labelling a criminal indictment as a political maneuver. Such a “top down” imposition would have fit neatly into Clinton’s often resorted to narrative of the “vast Right Wing Conspiracy”. And there is a substantial market that would be primed to willingly digest that distorted narrative. To this day the “chad incident” of 2000, continues to occupy a special place in the hearts of most progressives. Did Comey perceive a fragility or an unfittness of the collective American will to have absorbed the intense allegations of corruption and injustice that would have otherwise been hurled without mercy?
My hope is that James Comey sees that the only way to move an indictment through the system, or to force Hillary to the sidelines, without rendering serious structural damage to the national character, would be for the indictment to be universally viewed as the will of the majority. Such a debate would be intense and in the short term accentuate our national divide. But what a bottom up surge of resolve will not do, is, it will not leave an indelible black smudge of alleged unaccountability and corruption that would for the foreseeable future have to compete with an American narrative that has over the previous decade been under intense assault.
Perhaps Director Comey possesses some sort of Lincoln-like vision that has caused him to wisely hand the decision off to the rest of us. On the other hand, maybe I am wishing too hard that Comey has not caved in to political influence. Either way, Hillary has certainly made us blink but the rule of law and our tarnished narrative actually stands to benefit greatly if the American people proactively act on conscience.