Remember the joke:
“Hey, have you seen my wallet?”
“Was it a black fold-over wallet with a bunch of photos of kids and dogs, some cash, and a gold insignia on it?”
“Yeah! That’s it!”
“No, sorry, never saw it.”
I, like many others, listened to FBI Director James Comey outline all the reasons why presumptive democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton should be indicted over issues regarding her email, server, and improper handling of classified information. It appeared to me the recommendation to indict would be announced as soon as Comey finished setting the stage. It appeared to me he had no choice. Imagine the shock so many others and I felt when Comey recommended no criminal charges be filed. His reason? No indication of criminal intent.
Now, the differences between gross negligence and “extremely careless” are … what, exactly? Well, let’s not get into that now, and let’s not get into whether or not Clinton withheld evidence or misled investigators. Or lied about how many devices she had, or servers. We can go on and on with all that. The conclusions the FBI made about those considerations are curious to say the least, but I just want to deal with the issue of the criminal intent.
In any criminal trial a defendant is not required to stand trial if they are deemed incompetent. We are disgruntled when a murder is committed and the defense puts up the insanity defense – notably that the defendant is not mentally competent enough to stand trial. Isn’t that precisely Comey’s conclusion here?
Director Comey deemed Hillary Clinton to be not fit — either too stupid or not mentally competent enough — to stand trial.
Seriously — what other conclusion can we reach from his statement? He outlined all the statutes that were violated, classified emails that were illegally stored and transmitted, and numerous other security breaches and statute violations. There is no question that violations of the statutes took place and that Mrs. Clinton and her associates were “extremely careless” with classified information. Comey agreed that in other circumstances, people would lose their security clearances and be fired for the same actions that Mrs. Clinton took.
So, here are the appropriate questions to ask:
- Was Mrs. Clinton unable to determine which information was classified and which information was not?
- Did she not understand that classified information was to be handled carefully and with great security?
Given that the director outlined the numerous statutes that have been violated, and that, “any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position… should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation,” the only two possible conclusions here are either that Mrs. Clinton did know the information was classified (and that it was to be treated with great security — in which case she did demonstrate criminal intent for not handling the classified information properly. Or, she did not know the information was classified and that it should be handled carefully. Since director Comey said she did not demonstrate criminal intent, then, by process of elimination, it means she wasn’t competent enough to understand which information is classified and what is not and how to handle it.
In other words, she was deemed unable to distinguish between right and wrong, and therefore unable to stand trial, just as a murder defendant is considered unfit to stand trial if they are deemed unable to determine right from wrong.
So, simply incompetent? Or smart enough to know better? I go with the latter.
Going forward, she needs to answer whether she agrees she is incompetent or believes she should have been charged. Logically there is no other answer.