Home » Nooze » About Those E-mails …

About Those E-mails …

Today was a big day for campaign news, in that nothing happened. Clinton was not indicted for her mis-handling of emails, nor did we learn anything new. It’s all over but the ranting, so we’ll pause for a moment so that you can get your share in.

[ shouting, sharing of angry memes, deep sighs, et cetera ]

Feel better? Be sure to wipe off the screen when you’re done. Because whether you believe this was purely one more witch hunt or evidence of a rigged system, you probably are better off getting it off your chest. Better in the sense that you’re probably wrong – there was something to this, but it was never going to end up in an indictment.

FBI DIrector James Comey, addressing the Clinton emails.

FBI DIrector James Comey, addressing the Clinton emails.

FBI Director James Comey was probably the perfect person to handle today’s events, though it’s likely he would have preferred not to. He has long Republican ties and is, if anything, likely to be as hostile to Clinton as anyone. Comey handled it about as straight up as anyone would probably want an FBI director to – full of details and solid on the conclusions.

What it all came down to was this:

Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.

That sounds pretty serious, and it is. They had a standard of “intent”, meaning that the existing regulations, bizarre and complex, were routinely ignored on purpose. However, that’s far from the end of it:

In looking back at our investigations into mishandling or removal of classified information, we cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts. All the cases prosecuted involved some combination of: clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information; or vast quantities of materials exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct; or indications of disloyalty to the United States; or efforts to obstruct justice. We do not see those things here.

Many people feel angry when the world gets away from them constantly.

Many people feel angry when the world gets away from them constantly.

This is the important part. Clinton did not receive any “special treatment” from a “rigged system”. It was handled the way absolutely every other case like this has been – it’s not something that is ever prosecuted.

Through it all, we learned nothing about the emails or the server that we didn’t know a long time ago. As eventful as today was, nothing actually happened.

That’s not to say that it’s dead, of course. This is an election year and Clinton is about to be nominated by the Democratic Party for President. It’s up to public opinion to reflect on the situation and decide whether or not this is serious enough to disqualify Clinton.

There is little doubt that Clinton herself had little knowledge about the workings of email, servers, or internet based security. One thing we still lack are the details of the conversation which led to the creation of a separate server, including who was involved. What Clinton is guilty of is not asking enough questions when told that it was common practice for nearly everyone in the State Department to bypass the clunky, outdated system and simply get their own account somewhere else.

"I got this."

“I got this.”

That is troubling. It suggests that in areas where Clinton has no knowledge of her own she completely trusts other people. Even without any knowledge of the systems involved, it seems that the question should have been asked – “Is this really a secure way to send sensitive, sometimes classified documents?”

She did not do that. In doing so, she continued a practice of openly breaking laws and regulations regarding the handling of important messages. It is very much true that no one asked that question, either before her or under her – Colin Powell apparently used AOL for the same purpose. But it’s also true that when he became Secretary of State, John Kerry did ask these questions and that has a lot to do with the review of the system that got us to where we are today.

There is little doubt that this will be a partisan issue, and it actually should be at this point. While Comey made the right call, which is to say that no one has ever been prosecuted for this, he also noted that punishment for these actions is dealt with by other means. In this case, that is an election.

The question is, “Will anyone remember this come November?” We have the convention cycles ahead of us yet, among many other events. They tend to wash away a lot of sins and give everyone a clean start. Given all the frothing that today’s big nothing set forward, today’s revelations only hardened existing feelings for or against Clinton.

What actually happened today? It’s just about the last time we’ll hear about the emails and the server. There is probably going to be something far more interesting to fight about before November for all the shouting over today’s lack of anything.

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13 thoughts on “About Those E-mails …

  1. I am still trying to percolate both historical items and personal experience to make some sense of the whole mess – all I know was that as a lowly data entry operator for a place that required fairly high security, if I wanted to have my personal cell phone at work, it couldn’t be a new model with email/camera capabilities on it – any time I worked from home, anything I took out or brought back was thoroughly checked, because there wasn’t a ‘secure’ system for me to check out/in digitally (granted, this was years and years ago and only very limited items were allowed to work from home on) – I took it seriously, and because I was new and so low on the totem pole I KNEW I didn’t know the whole picture, I never talked to anyone about anything I was working on – because I didn’t know if it was okay or not – and so, given this, I have to wonder, where do security systems end and personal responsibility begin? 🙂

    I have to believe no matter what side one is on, at some point, we are all asking ourselves this question – not just for this instance but also for many, many others – AND, technology and what ‘we can do’ is racing so quickly ahead, our legal system can’t hope to keep up – just my two cents – 🙂

    • An excellent piece, and I agree with it, too. Leaking for the purpose of informing the public has been raised to the status of selling secrets to the enemy, and that is terrible. I agree with the author that prosecution in this case was not justified, but it’s been justified in far, far too many situations lately. We need a complete re-think about what “classified” is and how we can develop the more open government we need.

    • Mostly, yes. But while prosecution was probably not justified, every similar case was at least investigated by the FBI, meaning Clinton got the treatment that everyone else does. That’s only fair.

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