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Kiriakou writes: "Hillary Clinton should be charged with espionage. Not really. And I don't think she will be. But if the Obama administration is going to be consistent in its treatment of those who leak classified information, Clinton ought to face charges under the Espionage Act."

John Kiriakou in the documentary Silenced. (photo: AFI Docs)
John Kiriakou in the documentary Silenced. (photo: AFI Docs)


Obama Should Charge Clinton With Espionage

By John Kiriakou, Reader Supported News

23 August 15

 

illary Clinton should be charged with espionage. Not really. And I don’t think she will be. But if the Obama administration is going to be consistent in its treatment of those who leak classified information, Clinton ought to face charges under the Espionage Act.

The Espionage Act was written in 1917 to combat German saboteurs during the First World War. Between 1917 and 2008, it was used three times to charge Americans who had passed classified information to the press. Since Barack Obama became president, however, his Justice Department has charged eight Americans with espionage. I know. I’m one of them. And none of us gave classified information to a foreign government. In fact, most of us were whistleblowers, exposing evidence of government waste, fraud, abuse, or illegality.

The Espionage Act is actually pretty simple. It says that a person is guilty of espionage if he provides “national defense information to any person not entitled to receive it.” The problem is that it does not define what “national defense information” is. It doesn’t mention “classified information” because it was written so long ago that the classification system hadn’t even been invented yet.

It also doesn’t address the problem of overclassification. Who classifies federal documents? Everybody. I did during my 15 years at the CIA. If I wanted to meet a colleague for lunch in the CIA cafeteria, for example, I would send him an email and classify it “Secret.” Why? That was standard operating procedure. We all did it. Everything was classified. Even when it wasn’t.

The Espionage Act also doesn’t address the issue of disclosing classified information for the public good. There’s no affirmative defense in an Espionage Act case. For example, Edward Snowden told us that the NSA was spying on Americans, which is against the law and prohibited by the NSA’s charter. Instead of thanking him, the Justice Department charged him with espionage. I blew the whistle on the CIA’s torture program. Torture is against U.S. law and myriad international treaties and conventions to which the U.S. is a signatory. I ended up with three espionage counts. (They were all eventually dropped.)

But if the Obama administration is going to be consistent in its use of the Espionage Act, it will have to charge Hillary Clinton with espionage because of her alleged passage of classified information using an unclassified server. The FBI is currently investigating, and I would bet that it recommends a criminal case against Clinton to the attorney general. A prosecution will never happen, though.

The Obama administration has been highly hypocritical in its use of the Espionage Act. If you’re a friend of the president, like General James Cartwright or former CIA director Leon Panetta, you get a pass. General Cartwright, who has been identified in the press as the president’s favorite general,” allegedly told the New York Times that the U.S. was behind the Stuxnet virus that infected computers being used in the Iranian nuclear program. Director Panetta revealed the name of the Navy Seal who killed Osama bin Laden to an audience that included an uncleared Hollywood producer. And General David Petraeus, who leaked highly-classified information, including the names of undercover CIA operatives, to his girlfriend, got a sweetheart deal that ended up as a misdemeanor, with no espionage charge.

In all of these cases, the FBI reportedly recommended charges of espionage. But the decision to prosecute is political. It’s made by the attorney general and the president. The Espionage Act is a political weapon. If you’re a friend of the president, you don’t have to worry. If you expose wrongdoing, your life will be changed forever. Hillary Clinton doesn’t have anything to worry about.



John Kiriakou is an Associate Fellow with the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington DC. He is a former CIA counterterrorism operations officer and former senior investigator for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

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+30 # Dongi 2015-08-23 08:49
God! What a system. No wonder we are having such trouble in meeting ends and goals. It's all really FUBAR1
 
 
+53 # tedrey 2015-08-23 09:38
It's pretty straightforward . If you commit crimes or stupidities for the military or the executive, you get a free pass. If you let the public know about those crimes or stupidities, you get prosecuted. If your carelessness or stupidity was responsible for the leak being possible in the first place, however, you get a slap on the wrist and a free pass. See?
 
 
+37 # reiverpacific 2015-08-23 10:00
"But if the Obama administration is going to be consistent in its use of the Espionage Act," (quote).
Aye, just ask Assange, Manning, Snowden, Leonard Peltier or any of the others exiled, in jail or "disappeared" for doing humane and righteous deeds of courage for the larger good, whilst the most venal and murderous war criminals and human rights abusers walk free and prosper.
Compared to these, Clinton's emails are a fart into a gentle wind by comparison, whatever urns out to be the truth.
Democracy is still a distant mountaintop in the US of Armaments.
 
 
+35 # Saberoff 2015-08-23 10:18
The discriminatory application of the Espionage Act is a national disgrace. Another in the nefarious, long list.
 
 
+10 # ericlipps 2015-08-23 16:35
As written, the Espionage Act is so open-ended that it could be used to charge almost anyone with almost anything.

Why is Hillary Clinton not being charged?

Well, just wait--if the Republicans take the White House, she probably will be. Obama won't do it because (1) she's his former Secretary of State, so it would be a huge political embarrassment; (2) it's far from clear what, if anything, was "disclosed" to "anyone not entitled to receive it" (merely having it in her possession, private server or no, wouldn't be enough); and (3) indicting a major presidential candidate of either party looks too much like meddling in the electoral process--in this case, to take Clinton out of the picture in order to clear the way for someone else--perhaps someone in particular-to get the Democratic nomination. (it doesn't matter whether that's what's really going on; the mere appearance would be poisonous.)

Republicans wouldn't care about any of this; they've been trying for twenty years to put Hillary Clinton behind bars, and would jump at the chance to charge her with espionage.
 
 
-7 # moafu@yahoo.com 2015-08-23 10:59
Friend or Foe, once PUTZUS gets out of someone what he wants, he turns on them. that includes this nation.
 
 
-19 # davehaze 2015-08-23 11:02
Remember that the president that we are talking about here is a Democrat and you who voted for him are responsible for his behavior. His misbehavior.

Or are you just going to speculate that Romney would have used the Espionage Act more times?
 
 
+6 # jsluka 2015-08-23 14:16
And if you support Hillary Clinton, you are making the same mistake twice. "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me."
 
 
+18 # reiverpacific 2015-08-23 16:06
Quoting davehaze:
Remember that the president that we are talking about here is a Democrat and you who voted for him are responsible for his behavior. His misbehavior.

Or are you just going to speculate that Romney would have used the Espionage Act more times?


Well, for a start, Twit R' would have been into a war with Iran in a heartbeat with NuttyYahoo cracking' the whip.
Obama certainly aint perfect -even a bit of a Chameleon in some of his moves like the insane approval of Shell drilling in the Arctic -but I don't want to think what a McPain/Palin followed by a Romney/Ryan death wish would have done to the US.
Y'r reasoning is as hazy and irrelevant as y'r name!
 
 
-6 # davehaze 2015-08-24 00:09
rp,
Well, that's original. When you don't like what someone has said you make fun of their name. davehaze is 2/3rds of my real name. A construct and rhyme that I enjoy. Thanks for pointing it out.

Do you have any proof that Romney would have started a war with Iran? Or more to the point do you have any proof that Romney would have used the Espionage Act more than Obama? Do you have any proof that Romney would have approved drilling for oil in the Arctic?

I do think that Romney might have been a corporate shill. I think that Romney might have been for the TPP and fast tracking so-called trade agreements through Congress. Like someone else we know.

But if Romney would have been elected president don't you think that progressives, even Democrats, could have successfully pushed back against him and reduced his damage to the country?
 
 
+6 # Cassandra2012 2015-08-25 15:03
Ridiculous argument. The Tealiban have been grasping at innumerable straws bc of their misogynist hatred for Hillary for years . Nothing new here. She is not my choice as she is too much of a corporate hack. But even she is so much better than any of the 17 in the Repugnican clown car, that should Bernie (the one candidate running who has integrity, smarts, ideas and decency) lose the primary to her, I would vote for her in a second.
 
 
-4 # mmcmanus 2015-08-24 08:16
you are from on a faraway planet--go back and leave us alone.
 
 
+29 # Radscal 2015-08-23 11:17
Meanwhile, the Feds are setting free Jonathan Pollard, the Jewish-American who sold nuclear secrets to Israel. Apparently, he is being released to assuage Netanyahu's butt-hurt over the Iran deal.
 
 
+14 # progressiveguy 2015-08-23 11:34
John Kiriakou makes some good points here. There seems to be 2 standards of justice in this country. One for the average citizen and one for the wealthy or politically connected. Hillary is first of all a wealthy neo-con. I doubt that she will be charged with a crime but I believe she should drop out of the presidential race. She has already cost the Democrats the white house in the 2016 election. She should step aside for another candidate that is more responsible. The smirk on her face makes my blood boil. Their is no one else to blame, she had a great opportunity to be president but she blew it.
 
 
+11 # Radscal 2015-08-23 12:16
We already have a genuinely progressive "responsible" candidate running for the Democratic nomination.

The DLC will likely try to push some other corporatist/Wal l Street shill on us if Clinton keeps dropping in the polls.

They will do anything they can to keep Sanders from winning the nomination, and likely the Presidency.
 
 
+14 # davehaze 2015-08-23 13:34
The DNC is touting Biden which means they are worried about Hillarys negatives and chances of being indicted. A week before Hillary bows out "Tail Gunner Joe" Biden will be presented as the new best hope and only hope for the Democratic Party. Sanders will be ignored and eventually demonized for being a spoiler. He will be attacked viciously by the Democratic Party. He will be pushed aside. Any progressive or RSN follower who does not pledge to vote for Biden in the general election will be demonized.

Let the thumbs down begin.
 
 
+7 # jsluka 2015-08-23 14:17
Sounds about right to me.
 
 
+1 # fletch1165 2015-08-23 14:59
Don't worry, Sheldon Anderson will make this go away.
 
 
0 # Caliban 2015-08-24 09:36
Sheldon Adelson only helps Republicans, although in his case "help" equals "buy".
 
 
+8 # ericlipps 2015-08-23 16:43
Quoting davehaze:
The DNC is touting Biden which means they are worried about Hillarys negatives and chances of being indicted. A week before Hillary bows out "Tail Gunner Joe" Biden will be presented as the new best hope and only hope for the Democratic Party. Sanders will be ignored and eventually demonized for being a spoiler. He will be attacked viciously by the Democratic Party. He will be pushed aside. Any progressive or RSN follower who does not pledge to vote for Biden in the general election will be demonized.

Let the thumbs down begin.

Hillary Clinton bows out? You mean as she did in 2008?

That election shows that Hillary won't cave. She won't "bow out" unless she's hopelessly behind, and despite all the people praying to Bernie Sanders right now, I suspect that won't happen. The Democrats will come to their convention divided right down the middle, just as in '08.

Fortunately, it looks as though the GOP will too, with Jeb Bush and Donald Trump battling it out--the heir apparent vs. the hair apparent, so to speak.
 
 
+5 # davehaze 2015-08-23 19:10
Yeah, you may be right, but anyway we have 14 more months to go of this and the media will probably explode if they cover Trump for 14 more months. Or the electorate wil explode with screams of uugggghhhh!!

I mean how much more boring can MSMBC possibly become? Rachel Maddow has become a parody of Rachel Maddow. Soon Lockup will have a higher rating. And CNN, Wolf Blitzer is scarier then the proverbial wolf at the door.
 
 
0 # mmcmanus 2015-08-24 08:24
what crap.
 
 
0 # Caliban 2015-08-24 09:46
I'm sure you are right that the DNC would like Biden to run if Hillary falters (as I believe she will), but they can't just undo the results of primary voting. If Sanders wins the delegates, he'll get the nomination.
 
 
0 # Cassandra2012 2015-08-25 15:05
The DNC wants one of its corporate own.... hence the push for the same old, same old (however pleasant) Biden ... instead of focusing on Bernie!

Only Bernie has integrity, ideas, and consistency!
 
 
+5 # Charles3000 2015-08-23 15:05
It is a matter of authority. Clinton had the authority to classify or declassify any document issued by the Department of State. If she said it was unclassified then it was unclassified. Period. Only POTUS could overrule her. Documents do not classify themselves; people do it.
The entire affair is a big stack of baloney.
 
 
-2 # davehaze 2015-08-23 15:33
And if Clinton was emailed a document that was classified secret by the CIA could she declassify that document simply because she received it?

And were the 30,000 emails that she deleted simply grocery lists from Bill (Honey, pick up a big stack of baloney on your way home and dont say it is for me since I'm a vegan thse days) or perhaps just her Netflix choices?
 
 
0 # mmcmanus 2015-08-24 08:22
Amen!
 
 
+19 # Trish42 2015-08-23 15:09
I attended a Bernie rally this past Friday, and I can tell you that this is one Democrat who's not going to go gently into that good night!! If Americans will pull their heads out of their asses long enough to listen and hear what he's saying, we could make country a democracy again! I don't care how many friends tell me mine will be a wasted vote because "he can't win!" I'm sick of holding my nose and voting for the lesser evil. If Biden thinks he can win the presidency, he's crazy: all he'll do is split the Dem vote 3 ways!!! This could open the gate for Trump in which case I'll have to renew my passport for my move to Germany....
 
 
+9 # Vegan_Girl 2015-08-23 20:02
Yupp! This is the only way we can win. If Bernie doesn't get the nomination, I will vote for Bernie as a write-in candidate.

Voting for Bernie is not a waste. It is a waste to vote for the corporate status quo, which is a vote for pretty much any establishment candidate.

I suspect the corporate owned media and the rest of the establishment is more afrais of Bernie than they let on.
 
 
+3 # CTPatriot 2015-08-24 04:12
If Biden enters the race it's a great thing for Bernie. The votes that Biden splits will primarily come from Hillary. I would venture a guess that Bernie supporters are not likely to abandon him for ANY establishment candidate, no matter how nice a guy he is.
 
 
+4 # davehaze 2015-08-23 19:25
To get back to the article, arresting the whistleblower on torture rather than the torturers and Bush and Chaney is not the worst thing Obama has done but it ranks up there with murdering people with drones. And using the Espionage Act which is equating whistle blowing with treason is just disgusting. Obama may as well have resurrected Jim Crow laws and prevent certain government employees -- those with a conscience -- from using water fountains and bathrooms. Oh, that's for folks with special Rights Only. Officials and generals in favor with the Whitehouse.
 
 
+7 # Vegan_Girl 2015-08-23 20:00
Any discussion like that is besides the point as long as the war criminals (W, Angler, Rummy and company) are walking free.
 
 
+3 # mmcmanus 2015-08-24 08:21
This article is overly simplistic, and misstates many issues. Mrs. Clinton did not "leak" classified information to anyone. This whole "issue" is all the republicans have because their 17 candidates are the most pathetic bunch of morons to ever run for office, following big mouthed empty headed Trump like puppies. There isn't a leader among them.
 
 
0 # John Escher 2015-08-24 14:02
The behavior of Hillary Clinton and her minions Victoria Nuland of the CIA and Samantha Power, Ambassador to the U.N., seems much more important than anything having to do with Hillary's emails. Here's the question, legitimately gleaned from the articles of Robert Parry, and I hope someone who gets listened to will ask it somewhere in the media or in a press conference: "Mrs. Clinton, did you start the war in the Ukraine?"
 
 
0 # Cassandra2012 2015-08-25 15:07
Note: John apparently believes gender implies minions...... misogyny raises its ugly head, again.
 

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