Remember John Deutch? He had secrets on a home computer:
Former CIA director John M. Deutch publicly apologized yesterday for mishandling top-secret information on unsecure home computers, saying he never intended to violate security rules and believes none of the information was compromised.
“The director of central intelligence is not above the rules,” a contrite Deutch told reporters after testifying behind closed doors for 2 1/2 hours before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. “I very much regret my errors.”
Deutch was about to be prosecuted by DoJ when Bubba Clinton pardoned him.
This guy was prosecuted and was not pardoned (i.e. he is a little, unimportant guy) for keeping classified information on a home computer:
Bryan H. Nishimura, 50, of Folsom, pleaded guilty today to unauthorized removal and retention of classified materials, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Kendall J. Newman immediately sentenced Nishimura to two years of probation, a $7,500 fine, and forfeiture of personal media containing classified materials. Nishimura was further ordered to surrender any currently held security clearance and to never again seek such a clearance.
According to court documents, Nishimura was a Naval reservist deployed in Afghanistan in 2007 and 2008. In his role as a Regional Engineer for the U.S. military in Afghanistan, Nishimura had access to classified briefings and digital records that could only be retained and viewed on authorized government computers. Nishimura, however, caused the materials to be downloaded and stored on his personal, unclassified electronic devices and storage media. He carried such classified materials on his unauthorized media when he traveled off-base in Afghanistan and, ultimately, carried those materials back to the United States at the end of his deployment. In the United States, Nishimura continued to maintain the information on unclassified systems in unauthorized locations, and copied the materials onto at least one additional unauthorized and unclassified system.
The press release says: “The investigation did not reveal evidence that Nishimura intended to distribute classified information to unauthorized personnel.”
One rule for the little guy, another for the Important People.
I’m still confused about how deliberately setting up a private system for communication, including routinely sending and receiving classified information up to and including top secret information, is not “intent” to move that information from its proper place of custody. I’m also baffled as to when gross negligence was written out of the statute, or how “extremely careless” is different from being grossly negligent.
Ultimately, Comey’s inaction is the criminal referral analogue to John Roberts’s decision upholding ObamaCare. Someone with a reputation as a good guy had a failure of nerve when it mattered most, and elevated their judgment about the practical consequences to their institution over the rule of law. Weak people act differently when their actions are the subject of intense public scrutiny. They cave, and find ways to rationalize actions that minimize criticism rather than vindicate principles.
I think a central question in any job interview should be: when have you ever taken a large risk or sacrificed something for a principle?
But then, people like that don’t tend to rise to the top.