Barack Obama’s Justice Department has prosecuted more government officials for alleged leaks of information under the World War I era Espionage Act than all his predecessors combined — yet Hillary Clinton managed to avoid becoming part of that statistic Tuesday morning.
FBI Director James Comey decided the bureau would urge that charges not be brought against former Secretary of State Clinton for her mishandling of classified information on her private email servers.
“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 information that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information,” Comey told reporters, adding that the investigation found that Clinton used numerous email servers and several devices during her tenure at the State Department.
The FBI announcement came on the heels of former President Bill Clinton’s meeting with U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch last month. Other government officials were not so fortunate with the Obama Justice Department.
The Justice Department swiftly prosecuted six federal government officials between 2009 and 2012 under the Espionage Act, Bloomberg News first reported noting the administration’s number of record-high prosecutions under the law. By 2014, nine people were prosecuted under the spy law. Four others were prosecuted under Nixon, Reagan, and George W. Bush. One of those four cases, under Nixon, was dismissed two years later.
One of the five who was convicted was Stephen Kim, a former State Department contractor who served a 13-month prison sentence for violating the spy act. The case lasted for five years until he pleaded guilty to leaking information about North Korea’s nuclear program to Fox News reporter James Rosen.
International Business Times’ David Sirota noted the case of Navy sailor Bryan H. Nishimura on Tuesday, who pleaded guilty to unauthorized removal and retention of classified materials.
A yr ago, Comey’s FBI went after Navy guy for removing classified info, even tho FBI found no evidence of intent https://t.co/V7jabxmVwJ
— David Sirota (@davidsirota) July 5, 2016
According to the FBI, Nishimura “caused the materials to be downloaded and stored on his personal, unclassified electronic devices and storage media. He carried such classified materials on his unauthorized media when he traveled off-base in Afghanistan and, ultimately, carried those materials back to the United States at the end of his deployment. In the United States, Nishimura continued to maintain the information on unclassified systems in unauthorized locations, and copied the materials onto at least one additional unauthorized and unclassified system.”
Another government official sentenced to prison for three-and-a-half years for violating the Espionage Act is former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling. Sterling eventually pled guilty to leaking information regarding an undercover effort to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program to New York Times reporter James Risen.
“There’s a problem with prosecutions that don’t distinguish between bad people — people who spy for other governments, people who sell secrets for money — and people who are accused of having conversations and discussions,” explained Abbe Lowell, attorney for Kim, to Bloomberg News.
The DOJ “does not target whistle-blowers in leak cases or any other cases,” Dean Boyd, a department spokesman, told Bloomberg News of the cases it prosecuted.
Boyd added, “An individual in authorized possession of classified information has no authority or right to unilaterally determine that it should be made public or otherwise disclose it.”