As the last column noted, Comey is an honorable man, no matter who’s biting his tail. He promised Congress, hence the American people, he’d keep them in the e-gate loop. He did and, now, it’s Republicans, not Democrats, who are saying things are mighty “suspicious.” Regardless of who’s saying what, the law is not “suspicious,” nor is Comey. He followed the law and did the job he swore he would, no matter whom it angered. That’s almost everyone, now, and that’s a pity.
But let’s back up a minute and look at what this November surprise was all about. Use of a private email server by Hillary Clinton was plain ole’ dumb and proved, if anything, she was clueless about “Secret Stuff.” She has apologized for that, even if she isn’t alone on the Hogwarts Express.
The Russians have been reading our secrets all along, as Julian Assange, recipient of Russian hacking largess, has proven, more than once, in his Wikileaks. It’s not just the government, however, that rode a barrel over Niagara. The Democratic National Committee Party is clueless about security, too. Maybe George W. Bush got it right when 22 million of his administration's records disappeared. That’s called preventative medicine.
Republicans, however, stretched the rubber band of safety farther than Clinton ever did. Their favored candidate, Trump, actually asked the Russians to release stolen State Department documents. He did so, without any particular subtlety, at a boisterous rally. Donald Trump, naturally, now, denies ties to Russia though he has promoted developments there and his ex-campaign chair, Paul Manafort, frequently, worked for Russian sympathizers and organizations.
During this campaign Trump has described, in glowing terms, how wonderful his Russian tenants are. You know, the oligarchs who can afford to buy units in his buildings. Suffice it to say, you don’t get that rich in Russia if Putin doesn’t like you. In Trumpland all Russians are O.K., because his Russian tenants they pay their rent. Forget the nuisance that Russia is backing Assad in Syria.
The email fight, it turns out, wasn’t really about secrets. It was a political calculus. U.S. Government servers are no more secure than Clinton’s basement operation. This is proven by the passels of “leaks” out of the government that named our spies, spilled federal employees’ social security numbers and addresses, and whatever else the government won’t tell us about.
What people damned Clinton for--was her, purported, loose electronic lips. A “Need to Know” is a common phrase in industry parlance. Those with a “need” get access to secure information. The problem is that classification designations can be fluid. What’s classified for one purpose, now, may not be classified, for another, later on.
Another problem is that so much classified material is generated daily, especially in the “Confidential” category, that it’s hard to handle. There is no Secrets Czar, something Clinton may rectify now that she’s been burned.
Was the country endangered by Hillary? Probably not. We’d have seen its effects by now. It can be expected, too, that the Russians, already, knew what was in the volumes of emails Clinton’s staff generated during her time as Secretary of State.
The Russians were brazen enough, within recent memory, to fill our old Moscow Embassy with so many bugs that even Orkin couldn’t get them all out of the walls and the building had to be demolished.
Time matters, too. Information ages poorly. James Bond takes breaks, but rarely, a vacation, because secret stuff happens daily, even hourly, or less. Occasionally, classifications are raised, though that happens infrequently. Mostly, they move down and out.
If Donald Trump, knew more about the rules governing classified information, and not just the Alger Hiss and Ethyl and Julius Rosenberg types, perhaps, he might have perceived Director Comey’s look-see in a different light. Examination of political components in the conduct of national security affairs is commendable if exercised fairly. That should, always, be encouraged. It’s democracy.
Certainly, Comey’s now-infamous letter announcing further scrutiny of a Clinton aide’s computer helped Republican candidates. The unknown contents of Huma Abedin’s computer fueled a spate of incendiary Trump ads and speeches. In them, the Republican candidate alleged, incorrectly, that Mrs. Clinton was guilty of something like imputed treason.
As in so many other things, Trump has been proven wrong, again, but in all likelihood, that will be immaterial come Wednesday.
Mike Malak is an attorney, writer, and photographer. He lives in California.