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ICYMI: Will Hillary Clinton Benefit From An ‘Un-American Double Standard’?

- September 29, 2015

Excerpts from McClatchy

By: Greg Gordon
Tuesday, September 29, 2015

"More than a year after an earthquake and 49-foot-high tsunami caused a nuclear meltdown at Japan’s giant Fukushima Daiichi power plant, Lawrence Criscione and a fellow Nuclear Regulatory Commission engineer sought to ensure such a catastrophe couldn’t happen to U.S. reactors...

"What happened next echoes the experiences of so many Washington whistleblowers and exemplifies a disparity that could haunt former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as she tries to withstand disclosures that her private email server transmitted classified information.
 
"The nuclear agency’s internal watchdog sought Criscione’s criminal prosecution.
 
"Clinton appears unlikely to face similar peril, though published reports that the FBI has recovered some of the 31,000-plus personal emails that she had deleted from her private account could add uncertainty to the matter. Even so, if she comes out no worse than did three ex-CIA directors and other former top government officials accused of mishandling classified information, she won’t have to worry about jail time.
 
"But what if voters in next year’s presidential campaign perceive that the scales of justice weigh differently for her and other senior officials than it does for agency grunts like Criscione?...
 
"'If a career civil servant had a server with Top Secret information in his basement,' Criscione said in a phone interview, 'he would without a doubt do time' in prison.
 
"But he said he believes Clinton 'will not be prosecuted because of political reasons.'
 
"Criscione said even if Clinton avoids prosecution over her handling of now-classified material, she deserves to face criminal charges for setting up a private email account to circumvent disclosures under the Freedom of Information Act. The Freedom of Information law, however, doesn’t provide for criminal penalties.
 
"The day after Criscione sent his letter, whose assertions are strongly disputed by Duke Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s inspector general began investigating whether he had illegally made public information marked 'For Official Use Only -- Sensitive Security Information,' he learned later. In the ensuing weeks, he endured tough interrogations...

"Rough treatment of whistleblowers, whose jobs are protected by law, comes as no surprise to Danielle Brian, who has examined their allegations for years as executive director of the Washington-based Project on Government Oversight. She said those who reveal confidential or classified information have 'lost their livelihoods, have been prosecuted, have even had their homes raided for heroically trying to stop wrongdoing.'

"'This is a far cry from how politically connected senior officials who have actually mishandled classified information, either for convenience or for self-aggrandizement, are treated,' she said. 'This double standard is frankly un-American.'
 
"Former CIA directors John Deutch, Leon Panetta and David Petraeus all faced inquiries for alleged mishandling of classified information and all escaped jail. So did President Bill Clinton’s former national security adviser, Sandy Berger, who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor...
 
"William Binney, a former senior National Security Agency employee who blew the whistle on alleged mismanagement in 2002 and soon resigned because he was sure the agency was illegally spying on Americans, doesn’t mince words on this subject.
 
"'These people are above the law,' he said of Hillary Clinton and other present and former national security officials...
 
"He said the gravity of Clinton’s decision to use a private email system should not be underestimated, because the information sent and received related to 'the highest level of foreign policy in the United States,' foreign relationships and U.S. planning.
 
"Further, he contended that Clinton’s email account created 'a prime target for hackers,' including the governments of China and Russia.
 
"Clinton said recently there is 'no evidence' her email server was hacked, but has yet to disclose what was done to prevent it...
 
"Clinton initially said there was no classified information in her emails. In an ongoing review, the State Department and Intelligence Community so far has found classified material in nearly 200 emails, including two labeled Top Secret.
 
"Another whistleblower, Robert MacLean, took a risk two years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks that cost him his job.
 
"In late July 2003, he leaked to a television reporter a budget-driven Transportation Security Administration decision to pull sky marshals who travel armed and incognito off of long-haul flights requiring hotel stays.
 
"MacLean said he acted because, just two days earlier, air marshals were alerted to intelligence indicating al Qaida was plotting new suicide hijacking plots.
 
"Ironically, then-New York Sen. Hillary Clinton was among 11 members of Congress who responded harshly to the disclosure, expressing her 'extreme concern' with the agency’s security cutback, he recalled. The Transportation Security Administration promptly reversed its decision...
 
"As he watches developments surrounding Clinton’s emails, MacLean said he’s sure she’ll face an easier path.
 
"'There’s just a different standard for whistleblowers than for politicians,' he said."

Read the full article here.

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