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Right Opinion

America, Where No One Is Above the Law — Really?

Guest Commentary · Oct. 24, 2019

By Paul S. Gardiner

How can the American people be expected to believe that no one is above the law in America when Hillary Rodham Clinton is a glaring example of exactly the opposite? As described below, the “law” has not equally applied to her — yet.

From time to time, Clinton speaks at public events or makes public statements about different subjects, including repetitive statements about why she lost the 2016 presidential race. She appears convinced that she is in no legal jeopardy whatsoever for any actions she took while serving as secretary of state in the Obama administration.

To review, while serving as secretary of state, Clinton handled and stored several hundred, if not thousands, of highly classified emails on a private, unclassified email server operating in a bathroom at her private residence. Use of a private email server for classified communications permits the material to be removed or abstracted from its proper, secure government file server.  Penalties allowed under the Espionage Act for gross negligence (intentional or not) in handling classified materials include a fine or imprisonment of up to 10 years, or both.

As ex-FBI Director James Comey famously said in July 2016, there is evidence that Secretary Clinton was “extremely careless” in her handling of “very sensitive, highly classified information.” The term “extremely careless” purposely was used to describe her actions rather than the term “grossly negligent,” which if used, would cause Clinton’s actions to be subject to the gross-negligence provisions of the Espionage Act, subsection F, 18 USC 793.

James Comey indicated that there was no evidence that Clinton intended to violate any laws or policies of the U.S. Government regarding the handling and storing of classified materials. But as indicated above, the gross-negligence provisions of the Espionage Act do not require proof of an intent to deceive or perform illegal actions — gross negligence alone is grounds for prosecution. Therefore, Clinton’s actions are clear, flagrant violations of the gross-negligence provisions of the Espionage Act.

Like many millions of my fellow Americans, I was required during my career to safely store and protect classified government documents and communications. This included storing classified documents and correspondence in a safe in a government building and/or ensuring that only a secure government file server was used to send and receive classified emails. I was well aware of the penalties for failing to accomplish all the above.

What Hillary Clinton did regarding her egregiously gross negligence in handling and storing highly classified correspondence on a private, unsecure email server located in her home bathroom is a slap in the face and tremendous disservice to all Americans who consciously obey the nation’s laws. It is a gross injustice and failure of the American justice system not to indict her.

Other Clinton investigations notwithstanding, it truly is time for Hillary to be indicted and charged with violation of the Espionage Act. For the sake of fairness and justice, thereby proving that no one in America is above the law, please take immediate action, Attorney General William Barr.

Paul S. Gardiner is a retired Army officer, Vietnam veteran, and graduate of the Army War College. His civilian career includes positions dealing with highly classified information for the Federal Preparedness Agency, predecessor to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

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