What makes us any different from Venezuela now?
It’s a matter or record. Americans now populate the largest, wealthiest and most powerful banana republic in the world. The differences between Obama’s America and Maduro’s Venezuela are defined only by degree.
The defining characteristics of banana republics are a matter of history. First, the law is not enforced against a chosen class in a banana republic, usually the allies of the autocrat in charge. Second, foreign policy is always performed in the autocrat’s interests and often in disregard of the nation’s actual interests. This describes how America functions in the era of President Obama.
The newly-released FBI documents on the investigation of Hillary Clinton make it clear beyond argument that the fix was in and that the FBI never had any intention of recommending that she should be prosecuted for her crimes.
That is very hard to write. I have had very good friends among the agents of the FBI, men of unshakeable dedication to the fair enforcement of the law. But that is no longer the FBI’s goal, as just a few references to the documents published last week reveal.
First, you had to notice that the FBI agreed that there would be no videotape of its interview of Clinton. Not only would there not be a videotape, but no court reporter would be present to record a transcript. That itself is highly unusual, but there is far more, and far worse.
Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff at the State Department, had to have participated in sending classified material to Clinton on her private and unsecured “clintonemail.com” email system. Yet when the FBI questioned Clinton, Mills was permitted to attend as one of Clinton’s lawyers. That is not only unethical under the Bar’s unenforced ethics standards, but obviously a huge violation of the most elementary of FBI procedures that requires witnesses — and possible suspects — to be questioned separately in isolation from one another.
Clinton told the FBI that she relied on others’ judgment in sending her sensitive information on the unsecured email system. She also claimed that as a result of a head injury she didn’t recall key events such as being trained by the State Department on handing classified information or retaining records in accordance with federal law.
Clinton, as a U.S. senator, served on the Armed Services Committee from 2003 to 2009. She was a member of three subcommittees, including the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities. In that capacity, she would have been instructed on how to handle highly-classified information and a great deal of it would have passed through her hands. She would have had many occasions to handle it and to transmit it among her colleagues and staff and executive branch officials. Further training by the State Department would have been unnecessary for her to know how such information had to be protected against disclosure.
Clinton’s obvious lie was one of many she told the FBI. Let’s remember that on at least one occasion, she told her State Department staff to remove the classified markings on some material and send it “in the clear” on an unsecured channel — her private email system.
The FBI found that Clinton had used a multitude of Blackberry and other personal devices while she was secretary of state. Thirteen of them are missing and have never been recovered. Anyone who has used a Blackberry or other personal email device can testify that they last for years. Clinton, while she was secretary of state, apparently got a new one every six or eight weeks. All of those devices, given the frequency of her communications, would have had classified information on them.
How could anyone of sound mind be so careless? Was her 2012 concussion so severe as to cause frequent memory loss? Writing about Clinton’s health is verboten. Why, if it was so severe that it caused her to work part time as secretary of state, as she told the FBI?
(At least two devices are said to have been destroyed by her staff. Two others (an Apple iPad and a thumb drive) each of which reportedly contained a complete archive of her emails, were sent by a staffer to a person at Platte River Networks, the company Clinton hired to maintain her system, but may never have arrived.)
Let’s also remember that in his July statement, FBI director Comey said that of Clinton’s State Department emails, “…110 e-mails in 52 e-mail chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received. Eight of those chains contained information that was Top Secret at the time they were sent; 36 chains contained Secret information at the time; and eight contained Confidential information, which is the lowest level of classification. “
Comey’s statement included the fact that, “Only a very small number of the e-mails containing classified information bore markings indicating the presence of classified information. But even if information is not marked ‘classified’ in an e-mail, participants who know or should know that the subject matter is classified are still obligated to protect it.” Clinton knew or should have known that the subject matter of those emails was classified because, for example, some discussed coming drone strikes against terrorists.
For all of Clinton’s lies, and there are far too many to recount, the worst lie of all was Comey’s. He said that there was no precedent for a prosecution of someone who had behaved as Clinton had and that no responsible prosecutor would bring charges. (Former CIA directors John Deutch and David Petraeus each pled guilty to mishandling classified information. Deutch was pardoned in 2001 by Bill Clinton.)
Comey also said that there was evidence that Clinton and her staff had handled classified information in an “extremely careless” way. Title 18 Section 793(f) says that anyone who is “grossly negligent” in handling classified information is guilty of a federal felony.
If we cannot trust the FBI to enforce the law, and we cannot, America is now characterized by one of the two facts defining a banana republic.
As a parting shot, the FBI also found that several email accounts that Clinton had communicated with while secretary of state had been intercepted (hacked) by hostile foreign actors, but that they couldn’t determine if Clinton’s email was hacked.
Russia, China, Iran and al-Qaida will have intercepted Clinton’s emails as a matter of policy. If she isn’t guilty of the federal felony described by Title 18 U.S. Code Section 793(f), I’ll eat her classified emails.
And, oh, by the way, Clinton sent classified information on her private email system after she left the secretary of state job. (That’s a separate crime, but who’s counting?) The bad guys surely have those emails as well.
The other revelation last week was David Albright’s report on President Obama’s nuclear deal.
Mr. Albright’s Institute for Science and International Security (not to be confused with the other ISIS) reported that the international commission running Obama’s nuclear weapons deal with Iran has, in secret, allowed Iran to pretend to obey the deal’s conditions while violating them.
Albright’s report says that by the deal’s effective date, Iran was obligated to perform certain tasks in order to qualify for relief from the international sanctions that had been imposed. Among them was the disposal of low-enriched uranium (LEU), a limitation on its “hot cells,” and the shipment out of Iran of “heavy water” (deuterium oxide).
Iran didn’t dispose of, by shipment to another nation or otherwise, the required amount of LEU, leaving it more than enough to further enrich it to produce nuclear weapons. The “hot cells” — which can be used to produce plutonium, another key ingredient of some nuclear weapons — hadn’t been reduced in size to prevent the plutonium production. And the heavy water had been shipped to Yemen, where it remains under Iranian control.
Under the awful Corker Amendment (more fully discussed here) all side agreements, secret or not, were required to be disclosed to the senate. As a couple of senators have said publicly — and one to told me directly but privately — they weren’t.
Over the weekend, Obama signed the latest economy-killing global warming deal. Both the BBC and the Washington Post reported the event as U.S. ratification of the deal. Article 2, Section 2 of the Constitution provides that only the Senate can ratify a treaty.
Which results in the definition of Obama’s Iran deal being precisely concurrent with the other factor defining a banana republic. Obama’s autocratic foreign policy has been conducted in secret, and in opposition to our national security interests.
You may forgive me, dear reader, if I feel as if I were John Adams in a memorable scene from the musical “1776.” In that scene, Adams sings and shouts to heaven, “Is anybody there? Does anybody care?”
The Senate and the FBI don’t care. I do.
Sarah Burris/Flickr-Creative Commons