Hillary Clinton will never “face the dock,” as lawyers are prone to say. But Harold T. Martin III will.
On Thursday, when federal prosecutors announced charges against Martin under the Espionage Act for mishandling classified documents, people wondered, “but what about Hillary Clinton?”
In principle, both did the same thing. Martin, as a National Security Agency contractor, stored classified documents in his home, which was unauthorized. Clinton, as Secretary of State, stored classified documents on her personal server in her home. Again, unauthorized. On its face, it seems pretty much the same.
Legally, the big difference is this: Martin admitted he knew the documents were classified and admitted that what he did was wrong and illegal. Game over.
He should have “lawyered up” before opening his mouth. Or consulted Clinton.
Clinton admitted nothing. She insisted she did what she did for convenience, that she did not know she was breaking the law, and did not recognize that the documents as classified.
Many believe she was lying, but it is always difficult to disprove intent. Martin admitted his intent. Bad move.
Comparing the Quantity
The amount of classified materials found at Martin’s home was “astonishing,” according to federal prosecutors. And that is a major factor in charging him with violating the Espionage Act.
Martin had 2 decades worth of classified materials in his possession. His digital archive alone may reach 500 million pages. The sheer breadth, volume and length of his alleged crimes influenced the decision to prosecute.
However, the number of documents in Clinton’s possession were not insignificant. FBI Director James Comey revealed that more than 2,000 of her emails contained classified information and some of them “bore markings indicating the presence of classified information.”
His finding put a direct lie to Clinton’s repeated claims that she did not send or receive any information that was marked classified in her personal emails.
Her excuse that she did not recognize them for what they were… was especially vacuous since, under the law, markings are irrelevant.
Comparing the Content
Was the content in Martin’s possession any more damaging to the nation’s national security than what Clinton had in her emails? Not hardly.
Both possessed “top secret” documents that could harm America if stolen or otherwise exposed. For example, Martin kept at his home “specific operational plans against a known enemy of the U.S.”, say prosecutors. But so did Clinton.
She kept on her home server the location of planned drone strikes on enemies overseas and several other operational plans that were supposed to be kept top secret.
Her emails contained the location of North Korea’s nuclear facilities, transcripts of conversations between foreign intelligence agents, and the names of undercover CIA operatives whose lives could be endangered if revealed.
So both Clinton and Martin are guilty of jeopardizing national security, but only Martin will be prosecuted.
So far, there is no evidence that Martin gave classified documents to anyone who was unauthorized. But Clinton apparently did… by delivering national defense information to her pal, Sidney Blumenthal, who did not have security clearance.
Who knows whether Russia, China or other adversaries were accessing his emails.
One can argue that Clinton’s actions were more egregious and potentially damaging than Martin’s.
Why Charge Martin, But Not Clinton?
In a phrase, it’s a mystery. In his news briefing, Director Comey laid out a case of how Clinton was “grossly negligent” under the Espionage Act in her handling of classified material, then chose to ignore the law. As Fox News has reported, a “vast majority” of the career FBI agents and attorneys who dedicated themselves to the year-long investigation believed she should have been criminally charged and were stunned when they watched Comey’s announcement.
Perhaps there is a double standard when it comes to crimes and interpreting the law.
One for Hillary Clinton… and another for everyone else.