FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Hillary Clinton’s Wanton Disregard for US Laws and National Security

There is a new poster child for the U.S. government’s double standard in dealing with violations of public policy and public trust—former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, who will receive no punishment for her wanton disregard of U.S. laws and national security.  Clinton merely received a blistering rebuke from FBI director James Comey, who charged her with “extremely careless” behavior in using multiple private email servers to send and received classified information as well as using her personal cellphone in dealing with sensitive materials while traveling outside the United States.  Some of these communications referred to CIA operatives, which is a violation of a 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act to protect those individuals working overseas under cover.

A CIA operative, John Kiriakou, received a thirty-month jail sentence in 2014 for giving two journalists the name of a CIA operative, although the name never appeared in the media.  Kiriakou’s sentence was praised by CIA director David Petraeus, who faced his own charges for providing sensitive materials to his biographer, who was also his mistress. Petraeus lied to FBI investigators, who wanted to confront the general with felony charges.  The Department of Justice reduced the matter to a single misdemeanor, and Petraeus received a modest fine that could be covered with a few of his speaking fees.

The treatment of Clinton is reminiscent of the handling of cases involving former CIA director John Deutch and former national security adviser Samuel Berger.  Deutch placed the most sensitive CIA operational materials on his home computer, which was also used to access pornographic sites.  Deutch was assessed a fine of $5,000, but received a pardon from President Bill Clinton before prosecutors could file the papers in federal court.  Berger stuffed his pants with classified documents from the National Archives, and also received a modest fine.  Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez kept sensitive documents about the NSA’s surveillance program at his home, but received no punishment.

There is a similar double standard in dealing with the writings of CIA officials.  Critical accounts get great scrutiny; praise for CIA actions is rewarded with easy approval.  A classic case involved the memoir of Jose A. Rodriguez, Jr., who destroyed over 90 CIA torture tapes and wrote a book that denied any torture and abuse took place.  The Department of Justice concluded that it would not pursue criminal charges for the destruction of the videotapes, although it was clearly an act to obstruct  justice.  A senior career lawyer at CIA, John Rizzo, who took part in decision making for torture and abuse, received clearance for a book that defended CIA interrogation at its secret prisons or “black sites.”

In addition to the velvet glove approach for Rodriguez and Rizzo, the authors of the torture memoranda at the Department of Justice—John Yoo and Jay Bybee—received no punishment for providing legal cover for some—but not all—of CIA torture techniques.  Even Yoo, now a faculty member at the University of California’s law school in Berkeley, conceded that CIA officers went beyond the letter of the authorization and should be held accountable.  Meanwhile, Kiriakou, the first CIA officer to reveal the torture and abuse program, was convicted and sentenced.

A CIA colleague from the 1970s, Frank Snepp, wrote an important book on the chaotic U.S. withdrawal South Vietnam with unclassified information, detailing the decisions and actions that left behind loyal Vietnamese.  Snepp had to forfeit his considerable royalties because the book wasn’t submitted for the agency’s security review.  More recently, however, former CIA director Leon Panetta presented his memoir to his publisher in 2013 without getting clearance from the CIA, and only at the last minute before the book’s distribution did it receive a cursory review.  Former director George Tenet received special treatment with his memoir, getting deputy director Michael Morell to intervene to reverse Publications Review Board decisions to redact sensitive classified materials from the director’s book.

All of these decisions point to a flawed and corrupt system that permits transgressions at the highest level of government, while the government pursues those at a lower level.  President Barack Obama’s legacy will include the fact that he irresponsibly used the Espionage Act of 1917 more often than all previous presidents over the past 100 years, and contributed to the demise of the Office of the Inspector General throughout the government, particularly at the CIA.  One of the key causes of the current hostility and cynicism toward politicians and the process of politics is the double standard at the highest levels of government.

More articles by:

Melvin A. Goodman is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and a professor of government at Johns Hopkins University.  A former CIA analyst, Goodman is the author of Failure of Intelligence: The Decline and Fall of the CIA, National Insecurity: The Cost of American Militarism, and Whistleblower at the CIA: An Insider’s Account of the Politics of Intelligence.  His forthcoming book is American Carnage: Donald Trump’s War on Intelligence.  Goodman is the national security columnist for counterpunch.org.

July 17, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Trump & The Big Bad Bugs
Robert Hunziker
Trump Kills Science, Nature Strikes Back
John Grant
The Politics of Cruelty
Kenneth Surin
Calculated Buffoonery: Trump in the UK
Binoy Kampmark
Helsinki Theatrics: Trump Meets Putin
Patrick Bond
BRICS From Above, Seen Critically From Below
Jim Kavanagh
Fighting Fake Stories: The New Yorker, Israel and Obama
Daniel Falcone
Chomsky on the Trump NATO Ruse
W. T. Whitney
Oil Underground in Neuquén, Argentina – and a New US Military Base There
Doug Rawlings
Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” was Nominated for an Emmy, Does It Deserve It?
Rajan Menon
The United States of Inequality
Thomas Knapp
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
Cesar Chelala
An Insatiable Salesman
Dean Baker
Truth, Trump and the Washington Post
Mel Gurtov
Human Rights Trumped
Binoy Kampmark
Putin’s Football Gambit: How the World Cup Paid Off
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
Gary Leupp
When Did Russia Become an Adversary?
Uri Avnery
“Not Enough!”
Dave Lindorff
Undermining Trump-Putin Summit Means Promoting War
Manuel E. Yepe
World Trade War Has Begun
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Stomps Britain
Wim Laven
The Best Deals are the Deals that Develop Peace
Kary Love
Can We Learn from Heinrich Himmler’s Daughter? Should We?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Franklin Lamb, Requiescat in Pace
Weekend Edition
July 13, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Brian Cloughley
Lessons That Should Have Been Learned From NATO’s Destruction of Libya
Paul Street
Time to Stop Playing “Simon Says” with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of Formula and Honey
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s Intellectuals Bow to the Queen of Chaos 
Michael Collins
The Affirmative Action Silo
Andrew Levine
Tipping Points
Geoff Dutton
Fair and Balanced Opinion at the New York Times
Ajamu Baraka
Cultural and Ideological Struggle in the US: a Final Comment on Ocasio-Cortez
David Rosen
The New McCarthyism: Is the Electric Chair Next for the Left?
Ken Levy
The McConnell Rule: Nasty, Brutish, and Unconstitutional
George Wuerthner
The Awful Truth About the Hammonds
Robert Fisk
Will Those Killed by NATO 19 Years Ago in Serbia Ever Get Justice?
Robert Hunziker
Three Climatic Monsters with Asteroid Impact
Ramzy Baroud
Europe’s Iron Curtain: The Refugee Crisis is about to Worsen
Nick Pemberton
A Letter For Scarlett JoManDaughter
Marilyn Garson
Netanyahu’s War on Transcendence 
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail