Bryan Nishimura was a Naval reservist, who was deployed to Afghanistan in 2007 and 2008 where he served as a regional engineer. In this capacity, Nishimura had access to classified information.
On July 29, 2015, Nishimura pleaded guilty to the unauthorized removal and retention of classified materials, having transferred classified material to personally owned, unclassified electronic devices.
The reservist eventually admitted to the Navy that he had handled classified materials “inappropriately” and had later destroyed the documents.
Nishimura was sentenced rather lightly to two years probation, he had to pay a $7,500 fine, and he agreed to forfeit his security clearance and never again seek to obtain another one.
Intent was, in this case, irrelevant. FBI investigators did not find any evidence that Nishimura intended to distribute any of the classified information he possessed. The question for this case was whether he violated Section 793(f) of the federal penal code (Title 18), which states:
“Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of [classified material], (1) through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, or (2) having knowledge that the same has been illegally removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of its trust, or lost, or stolen, abstracted, or destroyed … Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.”
Again, intent doesn’t matter. What matters is “gross negligence.”
FBI Director James Comey reiterated this concept: “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….”
Comey then articulated how Hillary Clinton’s private, unsecured email server was found to have more than 110 emails with classified material.
More disturbingly, Comey said, “She also used her personal e-mail extensively while outside the United States, including sending and receiving work-related e-mails in the territory of sophisticated adversaries. Given that combination of factors, we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail account.”
If that isn’t grossly negligent, I don’t know what is.
Yet Comey, in the end, didn’t want to disrupt a U.S. presidential election. “This is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences,” he admitted, but he declined to prosecute.
Fine. I never thought the FBI was ever going to indict her anyway. The Clintons are special people who are above the rules applied to lowly peons like Bryan Nishimura. We already knew that.
But that doesn’t let you, the voter, off the hook from judging her. Her behavior is so reckless, so irresponsible, so paranoid, and so far beyond acceptable that she simply cannot be allowed to be president. And no, your distaste for Donald Trump is not a reason to pull the lever for this woman.
Maybe you think this set of events isn’t a big deal. It is, both legally and ethically.
She lied to you. First, she lied by telling you that she never sent or received any classified information in her email. Then she lied by telling you that she never sent or received any information “marked” classified.
This is also untrue, as the FBI director made clear. She sent and received marked, classified material. And even if she didn’t it doesn’t matter. “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,” Comey said.
But more important than the lies are the destructive repercussions to both national security and the concepts of open government her actions have created.
Clinton set up a private server for one obvious reason. She wanted full, total control of her email as secretary of state so she could selectively release and protect whatever it is she wanted.
In so doing, she exposed national security secrets to the world at large, leaving herself far more vulnerable to hacking by foreign governments as she recklessly trafficked classified information through something she knew to be unsecure.
Why? Because Hillary Clinton’s interests and ambitions, as well as her own political insulation from scrutiny, are more important to her than the national security secrets of this country.
That person as president is a terrifying prospect, and if that doesn’t disturb you to your very core, and you don’t think she should be disqualified from public office as a result, there is very little hope for the future of this country.