One of the most important saying passed down to us from the Roman Republic is Julius Caesar’s observation that ‘Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion.’ Caesar meant, I think, that the appearance of impropriety must be avoided as well as actual impropriety. The mere suggestion that something is wrong – that people are behaving badly – is often just as dangerous, perhaps more so, than actual corruption.
This is unfortunately true. Many of my readers will remember the tempest-in-a-teacup over The Great British Bake-Off, where it was suggested that Nadiya Hussain only won because she was a Muslim woman. This sort of suggestion is impossible to disprove – it isn’t as if the average viewer can sample her cooking – and its mere existence calls the whole system into question. Were the contestants judged on their merits or on the colour of their skin?
This leads us, via a somewhat torturous chain of logic, to the decision by the FBI not to push for criminal proceedings against Hilary Clinton.
It looks bad. It looks very bad. It looks like the fix was in from the start.
The statement issued by the FBI can be summarised as follows. “Clinton is guilty – but we’re not going to charge her.”
We now know for sure – going by the statement – that the server held emails that included highly-classified pieces of information, information that was ‘born classified.’
We now know for sure that Hilary Clinton did not hand over all copies of work-related emails to the State Department.
We now know with reasonable certainty (I would say complete certainty) that the server was hacked, repeatedly, by foreign intelligence agencies.
And we now know, with complete certainty, that Hilary Clinton lied, repeatedly, about the whole affair – that her actions, in short, were those of a desperate cover-up, not someone who didn’t see any reason to hide.
The FBI argues that Hilary showed no ‘intent’ to commit an illegal act. But this makes no sense. I am no expert in American law, but I believe that gross negligence is not an excuse in such matters. Hilary did something she should have known was incredibly dangerous, if only through security briefings she would have received when she took office. No, she didn’t pack a briefcase full of secrets and take them to the Russian Embassy. But she did leave those secrets out for Russian spies to steal.
Look at it like this. You have a £20’000 car. You take the car to Crime Alley and park there, leaving the doors unlocked and the keys in the ignition. A carjacker comes along and pinches the car – he might have committed the thief, but you made it possible. And then you lie to the insurance company, insisting that you took every precaution to keep the car safe when you did nothing of the sort. That, in short, is what Hilary did.
We may never know just how much classified data flowed into that server – and then straight to Russia or China. Hilary’s attempts to cover up the whole affair may well have rendered some data beyond recovery. No one – not even Hilary herself – can say with any certainty just how much additional data, beyond that recovered by the FBI, was stolen. God alone knows how many lives might have been put at risk by one woman’s arrogance and carelessness.
There is, quite simply, no defence for any of this. It looks very bad.
At this point, I do not believe that any vetting service worthy of the title would clear Hilary Clinton to hold classified information. And yet, she’s running for President. Will she separate herself from any discussions of sensitive issues? Of course not! Can she be trusted with classified data? Of course not! No one in their right mind would look at her record and grant her a security clearance, yet what if she becomes President? This is a nightmarish can of worms for anyone to consider opening.
But even that is not the worst of it.
The decision by Attorney General Loretta Lynch to meet privately with Bill Clinton, just prior to the FBI’s statement, stinks like limburger. Of course it does – even if they really did stay away from anything sensitive, there’s no way they can prove it. It looks, very much, as though the whole affair was fixed. And realistically, what sort of idiot would allow such a staggering appearance of impropriety even if there was no real impropriety? The Attorney General must be above suspicion. Loretta Lynch has proven, time and time again, that she is nothing of the sort.
I am tempted to conclude that the FBI just handed the election to Donald Trump. As has been pointed out, time and time again, countless Americans have been fired and/or jailed for far lesser offences. General Petraeus is an American hero, yet he was charged with sharing classified information (and rightly so). Why is Hilary spared the consequences of her crimes? Why is a woman who has spent the last eight years playing fast and loose with American security – and lying about it – not in jail? Why is she running for President?
The long-term consequences of this will be disastrous. On one hand, defence lawyers are already scheming how best to use the ‘Clinton Defence’ when their clients are charged with mishandling classified material. On the other hand, people are asking why they should obey the law when Hilary Clinton breaks it with impunity. And really, why should they obey the law?
And, on the gripping hand, we have the sickening prospect of Hilary being elected into office, paving the way for political corruption on a staggering scale, the transformation of the United States into a laughing stock, the loss of American influence and the complete collapse of NATO and the US’s other alliances. What sort of global leader would trust a woman like Hilary? Her record for upholding American alliances is already poor – now, with her loose grip on matters geopolitical, no one will listen to a word she says.
It’s easy to say that charging Hilary would not have been easy. The Clintons are known to be vindictive. Any FBI Director who charged her would be putting his career on the line, if Hilary Clinton took office in 2017. But such considerations should have played no role in the decision. The basic principle of western law is that no one is above the law …
… Unless you happen to be Hilary Clinton.
Hilary may have escaped formal charges, but there is no way to avoid the appearance of impropriety, corruption and political string-pulling. And this will cost her dearly.
The question is just how badly it will cost the United States too.