Jumbo, Ethics Dunce, Kaboom And Unethical Quote Of The Month: Hillary’s Jaw-Dropping Lie To Chris Wallace

hillary and Wallace

“Director Comey said my answers were truthful, and what I’ve said is consistent with what I have told the American people, that there were decisions discussed and made to classify retroactively certain of the emails.”

—-Hillary Clinton to Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, asserting that what was demonstrably false was true, regarding a public statement by Comey that can be Googled and watched on YouTube instantly.

My reaction when I saw that: KABOOM! The top of my head blew right off, bounced off the ceiling and knocked over the lamp. Wallace asked Clinton directly about what she had been saying to the public about her e-mails since May of 2015: that she did nothing wrong, that her private, secret e-mail server was approved by the State Department, that she never received or sent a classified e-mail…okay, that didn’t work, that she never knowingly sent a classified e-mail…wait, wait, that she never sent or received an  e-mail that was marked classified. Comey, in his televised, live statement announcing his decision not to recommend prosecution for Clinton, directly contradicted her.

In his careful statement 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.,,,seven e-mail chains concern matters that were classified at the Top Secret/Special Access Program level when they were sent and received. These chains involved Secretary Clinton both sending e-mails about those matters and receiving e-mails from others about the same matters. …There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position, or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding about these matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation…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.”

There is no way that an individual of normal facility with the English language can listen to or read that statement and conclude that Comey was saying that Hillary’s answers to questions about the e-mails to the American public and the news media–for over a year!–were truthful, as in “full of truth.” A technical argument can be made, if one wishes, that  Comey didn’t say that Clinton lied, because maybe she is an idiot and incompetent, and didn’t know or understand what “any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position” should have known and understood, leading to her factually false (and constantly evolving as more facts where uncovered) explanations over months and months. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Prelude: Intent, Gross Negligence, And ‘Extremely Careless’”

eyes closed driving

Long-time commenter (and blogger) Glenn Logan has authored not one but three COTD-worthy posts of late. I have chosen his commentary on the gross negligence/extremely careless distinction for the honor, but any of them would have been worthy choices. You can find the others in the threads here and here.

Before I get to Glenn, I want to point out that a recent and ridiculous news story illustrated the difficulty of the gross negligence/extreme carelessness distinction perfectly:

A North Florida woman is saying her prayers after running her car into a home — after saying her prayers.

The 28-year-old woman was driving in the tiny town of Mary Esther, located west of Fort Walton Beach in the Florida Panhandle. Deputies from the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office say the driver told them she was praying and had her eyes closed before the incident took place.

According to NWFDailyNews.com, authorities say she ran a stop sign, going through an intersection and into the yard of a home. The driver tried to back out, but her car got stuck in sand and dirt around the home. No one was hurt inside the home and the driver was taken to a nearby hospital for evaluation. She was cited for reckless driving with property damage.

Gross negligence would be praying, driving, and closing her eyes knowing well that it endangered others, and doing it anyway. Extremely careless would be praying, driving, and closing her eyes assuming that no harm would come of it, perhaps because God would be driving the car. “Reckless,” however, may cover both.

Here is Glenn’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Prelude: Intent, Gross Negligence, And ‘Extremely Careless’”: Continue reading

Prelude: Intent, Gross Negligence, And “Extremely Careless”

falling bowling ball

By now I intended to have published a thorough essay deciding the question of whether conservatives, and their claims that James Comey was part of a Justice Department conspiracy to save Hillary from indictment, were more unethical that Clinton supporters in the news media and elsewhere pronouncing her “exonerated” because she’s not facing trial. Alas, pressing matters have intervened, but no matter: I will present it soon. Meanwhile, however, allow me to clean up a relevant controversy.

Much of the mockery of Comey’s explanation of the FBI’s recommendation, since accepted with a big “Whew!” by Loretta Lynch, arises from his assertion that while Hillary’s handling of classified information was “extremely careless,” it did not arise to the standard of “gross negligence” specified in the relevant statute. Too many pundits and commentators to mention have snorted at this, arguing that there is no practical difference. Comey did not help, when he was asked the question in his Congressional testimony, by explaining the difference as one of enforcement: in a century, he said, no conduct similar to Clinton’s has ever been found to meet the “gross negligent” standard sufficiently to warrant prosecution. Attorney General Lynch, when she was asked the same question by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis), just repeated how she accepted the recommendations of Comey not to indict Clinton.

There is a difference, however. I don’t know why neither Comey nor Lynch could articulate it, but it exists, and I will now make it clear.

For this analogy I owe thanks to a D.C. lawyer, ethics expert and law professor friend of long-standing with whom I was recently discussing the Clinton matter. He has a gift for  analogies, and said this…

“Intent, is when you drop a bowling ball out of an office building window, aiming so that it will kill somebody by falling on the victim’s  head.”

“Gross negligence is when you toss a bowling ball out of an office building window without looking in order to get rid of it, knowing full well that it is mid-day and very likely to fall on someone’s head.”

“AH HA!” I interrupted. “Then ‘extreme  carelessness’ is when you toss the bowling ball out of an office building window without looking, in order to get rid of it, because it’s 3 AM and you mistakenly/ignorantly/ stupidly  assume nobody will be walking on the sidewalk at that time of night!”

“Exactly!” he said.

More to come…

Ethics Observations On FBI Director Comey’s Statement Regarding The Clinton Investigation

James Comey

The transcript of FBI Director James Comey’s full remarks on the Clinton e-mail probe follow. I will highlight important sections in bold, and in some cases, bold and red. My  observations will follow.

Good morning. I’m here to give you an update on the FBI’s investigation of Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail system during her time as Secretary of State.

After a tremendous amount of work over the last year, the FBI is completing its investigation and referring the case to the Department of Justice for a prosecutive decision. What I would like to do today is tell you three things: what we did; what we found; and what we are recommending to the Department of Justice.

This will be an unusual statement in at least a couple ways. First, I am going to include more detail about our process than I ordinarily would, because I think the American people deserve those details in a case of intense public interest. Second, I have not coordinated or reviewed this statement in any way with the Department of Justice or any other part of the government. They do not know what I am about to say.

I want to start by thanking the FBI employees who did remarkable work in this case. Once you have a better sense of how much we have done, you will understand why I am so grateful and proud of their efforts.

So, first, what we have done:

The investigation began as a referral from the Intelligence Community Inspector General in connection with Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail server during her time as Secretary of State. The referral focused on whether classified information was transmitted on that personal system.

Our investigation looked at whether there is evidence classified information was improperly stored or transmitted on that personal system, in violation of a federal statute making it a felony to mishandle classified information either intentionally or in a grossly negligent way, or a second statute making it a misdemeanor to knowingly remove classified information from appropriate systems or storage facilities.

Consistent with our counterintelligence responsibilities, we have also investigated to determine whether there is evidence of computer intrusion in connection with the personal e-mail server by any foreign power, or other hostile actors.

I have so far used the singular term, “e-mail server,” in describing the referral that began our investigation. It turns out to have been more complicated than that. Secretary Clinton used several different servers and administrators of those servers during her four years at the State Department, and used numerous mobile devices to view and send e-mail on that personal domain. As new servers and equipment were employed, older servers were taken out of service, stored, and decommissioned in various ways. Piecing all of that back together — to gain as full an understanding as possible of the ways in which personal e-mail was used for government work — has been a painstaking undertaking, requiring thousands of hours of effort.

For example, when one of Secretary Clinton’s original personal servers was decommissioned in 2013, the e-mail software was removed. Doing that didn’t remove the e-mail content, but it was like removing the frame from a huge finished jigsaw puzzle and dumping the pieces on the floor. The effect was that millions of e-mail fragments end up unsorted in the server’s unused — or “slack”— space. We searched through all of it to see what was there, and what parts of the puzzle could be put back together.

FBI investigators have also read all of the approximately 30,000 e-mails provided by Secretary Clinton to the State Department in December 2014. Where an e-mail was assessed as possibly containing classified information, the FBI referred the e-mail to any U.S. government agency that was a likely “owner” of information in the e-mail, so that agency could make a determination as to whether the e-mail contained classified information at the time it was sent or received, or whether there was reason to classify the e-mail now, even if its content was not classified at the time it was sent (that is the process sometimes referred to as “up-classifying”).

From the group of 30,000 e-mails returned to the State Department, 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. Separate from those, about 2,000 additional e-mails were “up-classified” to make them Confidential; the information in those had not been classified at the time the e-mails were sent.

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Observations On The Redacted Orlando Terrorist’s 911 Call Transcript Fiasco

Lynch white House

Polls show that as citizens consider the horrors of Clinton and Trump, Obama’s approval numbers are going up. This makes sense, of course: competence and virtue are relative. I haven’t seen a poll but it would not surprise me if, after almost 8 years of Obama, Jimmy Carter’s poll numbers have risen too, as well as Herbert Hoover’s and, across the pond, maybe even Neville Chamberlain’s.

Just so we don’t get carried away with nostalgia for an arrogant and incompetent leader as we anticipate his corrupt or unhinged successor, I feel obligated to use Bon Jovi’s “turn back time” device to return to last weekend, when Obama gave us perhaps the most damning evidence yet of how cynical, dishonest, contemptuous and inept his”transparent” leadership has become. Mea culpa: I passed over it last week in my concentration on the mad flare-up of anti-gun hysteria.

As all but the most denial prone Democrats will acknowledge, President Obama has gone to ridiculous and dangerous lengths to avoid formally citing radical Islam as a terror threat, because it requires acknowledging that a large (okay, large enough) component of the Muslim population abroad and maybe here as well wants to kill us. Truth is the enemy to liars, frauds, totalitarians and the deluded: take your pick here. Either way, for Attorney General Loretta Lynch to say of Omar Mateen in a press conference, as she did Tuesday, that “I cannot tell you definitively that we will ever narrow it down to one motivation. People often act out of more than one motivation,” is an insult. This is blatant equivocation. Yes, I’m sure Mateen may have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed, and maybe there were some people among the hundred or so he shot that he didn’t like, but he was a Muslim, his father was an anti-American, pro-Taliban zealot, he had pledged himself to ISIS, he launched a one -man terrorist attack, and his religion persecutes gays. Gee, what could his motive have been? I’m stumped. Are you stumped? Loretta is stumped.

No, Loretta has been told to be officially stumped.

Just two days before her transparently dishonest statement (Maybe this was the kind of transparency Obama promised in 2008?), Lynch toured all five Sunday talking head shows (ABC, Fox, CBS, NBC, CNN) to lie about the transcripts of Orlando terrorist Omar Mateen’s calls. This is known at Ethics Alarms and elsewhere as “doing a Susan Rice.[It’s fun to go back to that 2012 post and read the comments from the denial brigade, like now-self exiled far-left blogger Ampersand, who defended Rice and the administration. “For your statements to make sense,” Barry wrote, “we’d have to believe that US Intelligence had determined with certainty what had happened either while the attack was ongoing or within hours afterward, neither of which is true.” We now know both are true. Thus Hillary told her daughter shortly after the attack that it was an organized terrorist plan. Later, with the election in mind, the YouTube video cover-story was concocted, and Rice was dispatched to spread it.]

President Obama wanted to make the Orlando massacre about gun control rather than Islamic terrorism. His post attack speech did not mention ISIS or Islamic terrorism at all, but quickly pivoted into exploiting the tragedy to call for gun controls, knowing that his lap-dog, gun-hating allies in the mainstream media would let him get away with it. There was a problem, however: Mateen’s phone calls made it clear to anyone paying attention that this was an ISIS-related terrorist attack (not just an “act of terror”—the same equivocation used after Benghazi.)

Here were the redactions:

Mateen: “I pledge of allegiance to [omitted]. “I pledge allegiance to [omitted] may God protect him [in Arabic], on behalf of [omitted].”

The dumbest Wheel of Fortune contestant in the world could fill in those blanks, especially after many of the news reports.

Nevertheless, our Attorney General was willing to humiliate herself trying to justify the withholding of facts from the public, saying on ABC’s “This Week”: “What we’re not going to do is further proclaim this man’s pledges of allegiance to terrorist groups, and further his propaganda.” How lame is THAT? Not as lame as the excuse she gave the same day on CNN’s State of the Union,  where Lynch said:“The reason why we’re going to limit these transcripts is to avoid re-victimizing those people that went through this horror.” What? I’m sure that blatantly censoring information that the public has a right to know will make the victims’ families feel much better. How do the facts that our government thinks the public is made up of gullible idiots, that the President is in denial over Islamic terrorism, that the Attorney General is willing to lie repeatedly on national television and act as a political tool, and that the administration is as transparent as slate make the victims’ families feel? It sure scares the hell out of me.

Occasionally the news media declares, as a friend of mine is fond of saying, “There is some shit I won’t eat,” or at least eat and say “Yum-yum!,” so the censorship of the obvious was roundly mocked and condemned by both the media and Republican leadership. (Oddly, no Democrats stood up for transparency. Democrats: please explain, and explain why this is fine with you.)

So the Obama Administration and the Justice Department caved the next day,  and released a full, uncensored transcript of tMateen’s 911 call on the night of the massacre, and referred to the controversy over omissions in the document “an unnecessary distraction.” (And whose fault was that?)

Omar Mateen made the 50-second 911 call in which he claimed responsibility for the terror attack and pledged allegiance to the Islamic State’s leader at 2:35 a.m., about  a half hour into the June 12 murder spree. Now, with the blanks filled in, the transcript read…

“I pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may God protect him [in Arabic], on behalf of the Islamic State.”

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