Monday, August 17, 2015

Excessive Eagerness Can Compromise Credibility

     Via Doug Ross’s site comes a RedState article that must be read very carefully to avoid a potentially damaging leap to conclusions.

     Please read the following as carefully as possible:

     While the media is focusing your attention on the shiny object that is her email server, the real story is not being told. The circumstantial evidence indicates that Hillary Clinton, or members of her inner circle with her connivance, purloined highly classified US intelligence and either sold it, traded it, or used it for personal gain. This is not a conspiracy theory and it is not hyperbole.

     This statement is quite definite. It contains no conditionals and ends with a reinforcing sentence that exhorts the reader to take it literally.

     This is evidenced by the fact that it appears someone stripped classifications from documents:

     How are we to interpret the phrase “the fact that it appears” -- ? To say something “appears” is to say “this is prima facie stuff;” it is not conclusive. This is especially the case when “someone” is cited, rather than a particular perpetrator. Note that the Fox News article linked in the above is headlined with the word “may:”

Official: Clinton ‘inner circle’ may have stripped email classification markings
     We know at least two Clinton cronies followed her to State: Cheryl Mills (Chief of Staff) and sweet Huma Abedin (Deputy Chief of Staff). They also had Clinton foundation email addresses.....We don’t know their security access but it would be safe to say they saw everything Hillary did.

     “It would be safe to say” is a paraphrase for “I assume.”

     To lead off with so definite an accusation and to follow with possibilities and conditionals is unsatisfactory. At best, it’s misleadingly written.

     A few words on the handling of classified data would be in order here.

     The National Security Act of 1947, stiffened by a brace of executive orders, does make it a criminal offense to mishandle classified information. However, there are conditions:

  1. The offender must be a signatory to an explicit agreement by which he freely accepts the strictures of the classification regime under penalty of imprisonment, a fine, or both.
  2. There must be at least a possibility that the offender has damaged the national security to some degree. In other words, there must be a plausible pathway – something short of telepathy or magic – by which persons hostile to the United States could have got their hands on the mishandled information.
  3. The offender must have violated the terms of that agreement knowingly: that is, in full cognizance that the mishandled information is classified and that his action does constitute mishandling according to the classification level it has been assigned.

     Thus, a signatory of that sort may mishandle classified information without criminal penalties if he did so unknowingly, or if the mishandling could not possibly have compromised the national security.

     Hillary Clinton, as the Secretary of State, did satisfy conditions 1 and 2 by allowing email containing classified information to be stored on a private server. Her defense to this point has been to deny the allegations completely. Even now that Inspector Generals are involved and competent authorities are ringing in on the classified nature of material found in her email, she can retreat to a condition 3 defense that she didn’t know -- that she wasn’t aware the data in her outgoing email were classified, or that any unmarked classified data in her incoming email were put there by someone whose competence and knowledge of the law she trusted.

     It would require the refutation of such a claim in explicit statements, probably by two or more persons of the appropriate clearance level who are verifiably knowledgeable about Clinton’s words and deeds, to defeat it in court. This is not impossible, but it has yet to occur.

     It’s quite plausible that the ClintonMail affair is indeed part of a massive scheme of corruption intended to bring benefits to that notoriously corrupt duo. However, we must tread cautiously, for we who detest the Clintons want to believe the worst of Hillary. In leveling accusations of conduct that approaches treason, one must be as careful and specific as humanly possible. Until the alternative explanations proffered by the Clintonistas have been definitively excluded as contradicting the objective evidence, “may” and “it appears” are what we have. Many a jury would deem that short of the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard.

     Now that Hillary Clinton is a candidate for the presidency, and appears not to face significant opposition within the Democrat Party, the Right’s desire to see her brought down is at its maximum. As understandable as that is, it should also be a warning to us not to be too quick to believe the accusations against her even if we are convinced of their accuracy. Should she be acquitted, or perhaps never formally charged, we’d wind up with a lot of egg on our faces – and Hillary would make significant political capital out of having “triumphed” over her critics.


Eskyman said...

Re: "It would require the refutation of such a claim in explicit statements,..." Trey Gowdy was just on Fox saying that negligence is all that is required, not specific statements of her guilt. All that is required is for classified material to be on her server, or on her phone. How it got there is what the lesser crooks, who assisted her in this conspiracy, are sweating about.

No mens rea was necessary for Gen. Petraeus to have committed a much less serious crime, but he faced a great many sanctions. It's only justice- or is it karma?- for Clintoon to face the same.

I'm hoping some justice does occur this time around, but it's actually only happening because Obama wants to derail Hillary. I'd be greatly surprised if anything actually happens to her though- because we no longer have a Rule of Law that can be relied upon.

Which is why I'm for Trump, even though I realize and recognize that he isn't a Conservative. We need a large, caustic scrub-brush, ruthlessly applied, before any meaningful disinfecting and healing can occur. Otherwise I'd be for Cruz; trying hard to ignore that he's not a natural born citizen, but after Obama... it's more critical than ever, sadly. Still, if by some miracle (and that's what it would take) he becomes the R candidate- yes, I'd vote for him in a NY minute!

Francis W. Porretto said...

Negligence is predicated on knowing that you're handling classified data. You cannot be negligent without that knowledge.

Reg T said...

I have to take issue with your last sentence, Fran. "Egg on our faces" is the least of our worries. Considering that the rule of law has not applied to the elite such as Hillary for lo, these many years, being acquitted when obviously guilty is such a common occurrence with politicians that it would not reflect negatively on us, beyond the expected gloating by the Left. And they _will_ gloat, whether we try and fail or simply fail to try.

Never formally charged is even more common, as the same group of elite so often escape even that consequence for their misdeeds - including treason. Such as Obama and Kerry actually aiding our enemy Iran - which has called and continues to call for the death and destruction of America - in developing nuclear weapons, which I would think meets the criteria for treasonous behavior.

Such as failing to act, failing to provide succor to an ambassador and the men trying to protect him and themselves against a terrorist attack, when it was both possible and the right, the moral, thing to do. Such as when Bill Clinton provided the Chinese, the PRC, with the technology our subs use to produce near-silent propulsion (propellor design and manufacture, IIRC). Such as someone in the Obama administration (and likely with his connivance) giving Iran secret information concerning Israel's nuclear arsenal and it's specifications, its capabilities.

I am cynical (realistic?) enough to believe that there is nothing, including the discovery that her "pillow talk" with Huma about classified information was immediately passed on to either the Muslim Brotherhood or Iran, that would result in any censure or jail time for Hillary.

Should we take a page from the Left's playbook (or Alinsky's Rules) and accuse her of things impossible to prove or convict for, simply to attempt to sabotage her candidacy? Of course not. But, given that the Left does those very things themselves, I don't believe we should shy from trying to prove what is quite likely the truth, even though we might fail.

Again, I believe it is better to try and to fail than to fail to try. The Left will condemn us either way, and who knows - we might get lucky and wake up a few Americans to the obscenity that is Hillary Clinton.