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“All animals are equal but some are more equal than others.” This brutal quote from George Orwell’s Animal Farm comes to mind instinctively in light of the latest developments around the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of private email servers during her term in office.
A Tuesday statement by FBI’s director James Comey dropped a bombshell: he recommended no charges against Clinton and referred the matter over to the Department of Justice. Many, both critics and supporters of Hillary Clinton, expected this. The anticipation factor, however, does not change the fact that in his statement, Comey made a recommendation that goes against the law.
Here’s what he said. After detailing the actions that the FBI undertook in its investigation and describing the amount and type of email communication they analyzed – identifying eight separate top secret documents and over 100 containing “classified information,” Comey said, “Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”
Now, extreme carelessness is punishable by law, even if it was not committed intentionally, which seems to be the focus of Comey’s recommendation for no charges to be pressed against the former Secretary of State. Zero Hedge, however, quotes the U.S. Penal Code, which specifically states that intent is not a necessary prerequisite for prosecution in case of mishandling of sensitive information.
What’s more alarming, however, is Comey’s admission that, due to a combination of factors, the FBI assessed there had been a possibility for “hostile actors” to gain access to Hillary Clinton’s personal email account. Enter Defense and Foreign Affairs and their report on warnings that Russia has intercepted sensitive information from Clinton’s email communication and is ready to release them as proof of Clinton’s violation of the law.
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Defense and Foreign Affairs quoted sources from the intelligence community that said the decision on whether to release the information will be made by President Putin at a time he considers right and that meanwhile, both he and those around him are getting annoyed with the slow pace at which the investigation into Clinton’s email communication practices is moving.
Hillary Clinton has made no secret of her attitude towards Russia, so Moscow clearly has reasons to worry about further tensions should Clinton become President. In light of this, it’s no surprise that DFA’s sources have suggested that the sensitive information would be released at such a moment as to make a maximum impact on the presidential race.
The question of whether or not the former Secretary of State violated sensitive-information-handling legislation seems to be settled. Since she is who she is – a more equal animal – an indictment remains unlikely. But it’s one thing to talk about 110 emails containing confidential information or eight emails containing top secret info.
This is quite abstract. If Russia, however, decides to wave some specific confidential documents in Washington’s face, things will stop being so abstract.
Of course, there are those who think Russia is bluffing. Yet, Director Comey made it pretty clear in his statement that hacking into a private email server is more or less a piece of cake for some intelligence services. If it was so easy to intercept Clinton’s communication, does anyone doubt that Moscow would hesitate to do it? Stay tuned for more Clinton leaks as November approaches.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.