While I was proud of Bernie Sanders when he refused to stoop to attacking Hillary Clinton on what I initially believed to be merely another manufactured right wing scandal, I now believe Sanders will have to address Clinton's 'damn emails,' as they do, in fact, damn her.
As a former postal employee, I became quite familiar with the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)--which governs the employees of the federal government--and the United States Code (USC)--which specifies crimes and their penalties. Let's just say there's a valid reason the term 'going postal' has descended into the vernacular, and leave it at that. Upon visiting my old friends CFR and USC, I discovered a number of things about Clinton's 'damn emails' that the mainstream media and the 'legal experts' it has interviewed have been conveniently ignoring in their rush to the coronation. Those things, and the opinions of people who have held high-level security clearances, lead me to believe that an indictment is justified.
First, then, let's review the facts that have been verified as such.
- In her four years as Secretary of State, Clinton never had a .gov email address assigned to her.
- She paid a company outside the government to have a private server installed in her home in Chappaqua NY and used it exclusively for her State Department work.
- Clinton requested an encrypted Blackberry from the NSA, similar to the one President Obama uses. They denied her request, stating it was too expensive to set up, and instructing her to use the server in her designated office, which was already set up with the required encryption, security measures, enhanced controls, and surveillance countermeasures. This required her to leave her smartphone outside the room with its battery removed so it could not be used as a gateway for hackers. She balked and began using a standard Blackberry.
- It is a violation of the National Archives and Records Administration's rules in the CFR to exclusively use personal email for official business, because the code requires federal agencies to make and preserve records to be readily available when needed, such as for congressional inquiries or FOIA requests.
- Though Clinton's stint as Secretary of State ended in January 2012, she did not turn over her server to the State Department until they ordered her to in 2015.
- Prior to doing so, Clinton allowed her lawyers access to the server. They assembled a list of keywords related to her work, then ran a search based on the list. All emails not including a keyword were deleted...more than 30,000 of them.
Next, let's go over what can be logically inferred and what can be derived from federal law.
- As Secretary of State, Clinton had the highest security clearance possible: Special Access Programs (SAP).
- Clinton was authorized to and responsible for classifying information herself, which is reserved for very few people. As such, her public excuse that her emails were 'classified after the fact' does not hold water. She herself was responsible for analyzing the content of documents and judging their classification, not relying on whether others had labeled it 'classified'. Since she only used her private server, she must have sent and received all levels of classified information over it, a fact discovered during the FBI's investigation.
- It is not possible for her private server to have been equipped with legally-required encryption, security measures, enhanced controls, and surveillance countermeasures, because these methods of safeguarding information are, themselves, classified and not available outside the government.
- Clinton's exchanges with Sidney Blumenthal are especially problematic for her (and him) for several reasons. First, nearly all of their emails qualify as 'classified,' since they contain information about foreign governments. Second, Blumenthal was also using a private email address, so was not equipped to receive classified information. Nor did he have a security clearance, since he was not a government employee. Finally, Blumenthal was engaged in espionage as a private citizen, intercepting foreign communications not meant for him, and passing them on to Clinton. Here, we leave the CFR and enter the US Criminal Code (cf. 18 USC 798).
- Also per both USC and CFR, Clinton's deletion of emails gets her into serious trouble for improper declassification, allowing a private citizen access to classified information, and transmitting it over an unsecured server to an unsecured server.
- Last, Clinton's deletion of emails is a criminal offense under the USC.
Now, let's discuss the implications of Clinton's actions in connections with the federal laws referenced, the progression of the FBI's investigation, and the actual content of Clinton's emails, and draw some conclusions.
Given the seriousness with which national security is regarded, and the illegality of endangering it, what motivated Clinton to take such a risk? The answer is most likely in one or more of the 30,000+ deleted emails. Unfortunately for Clinton, neither she nor her lawyers understand how computers work. Unless the exact segments of the hard drive where those emails were stored was written over with new information, or the drive was physically destroyed, those emails can and will be reconstructed. The very fact that she deleted them is a crime, as I mentioned, that carries a penalty of fines, imprisonment, and prohibition from ever holding office in the United States. 18 USC 1519 mandates 'not more than 20 years,' while 18 USC 2071 mandates 'not more than 3 years.' A maximum sentence of 23 years multiplied by 30,000 emails? Bye, Felicia.
Clinton's exchanges with Blumenthal also carry criminal penalties of fines and imprisonment. 18 USC 798 mandates 'not more than 10 years.' Multiply that by the number of emails violating this statute, and Clinton will be wearing orange in the very prison system she and Bill created for the rest of her natural born life.
The FBI granted Bryan Pagliano immunity, which tells us four things: (1) A Grand Jury has been selected for this case; (2) Pagliano committed one or more federal crimes; (3) He has information crucial to the case against Clinton; and, (4) He chose not to take the fall for Clinton (which may mean he's a dead man walking). Currently, the FBI has issued subpoenas to Clinton's aides. That means that the preliminary investigation is finished; they've read all her emails, including the deleted ones, and determined that sufficient evidence exists to continue. Clinton's aides have all retained the same counsel, indicating that they intend to present a united front. Whether they intend to unite with her or against her is presently unknown. According to judicial ethics, Attorney General Loretta Lynch must appoint an impartial Special Counsel to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. Lynch is in an unenviable position, and that's the only way out of it. If FBI Director James Comey presents her with evidence that supports an indictment, and she issues one, Democrats will (pardon the pun) lynch her. If she doesn't, her career will be over.
UPDATE: The FBI has extradited Romanian hacker "Guccifer," whose real name is Marcel Lehel Lazar. Lazar allegedly hacked into Blumenthal's private email account and read his and Clinton's exchanges. It was through Lazar's hacks that the existence of Clinton's private server first came to light. The extradition request was made in December 2015, just after the revelation that there was unsecured Top Secret information on Clinton's private server.
If we, as private citizens not privy to Clinton's emails in their entirety, working only with what's been released to the public, along with the USC and CFR, can clearly see that Clinton has committed crimes through her deliberate dereliction of duty as Secretary of State, then the FBI should certainly come to the same conclusion. Let's hope they do so sooner rather than later, because the clock is rapidly ticking toward the Democratic convention.