Thursday, July 07, 2016

One Lawman's Idea of Due Process

The head of the FBI was on television the other day and he accomplished a remarkable thing. He made both political parties angry. He announced the FBI was not recommending the DOJ file criminal charges against Hillary Clinton because there was no evidence of a crime. But he expanded into a long dissertation on what he, as a lawman, saw as Hillary Clinton's misdeeds. Law officers are not supposed to announce that a person is not being prosecuted and then explain why they wish they could go ahead and hang the accused. How, if this were a properly run country, they'd be able to do just that.

The Washington Post published a pretty fair explanation of how FBI Director Comey's performance was unprofessional.

The FBI Director's press conference did not unfold in this way. But the message was a bit like this.

“We are not pressing charges,” the lawman said. “But that doesn’t mean this person isn’t a lowdown, dirty skunk who should be strung up by the nearest lamppost. We found no evidence of wrongdoing, but we’re pretty sure there was plenty. Just by looking at her we figure that she’s guilty as sin. She’s just lucky we didn’t find anything. This time. What I mean to say is she’s probably a serious criminal, or at the very least recklessly incompetent while being simultaneously devilishly cunning in the way she covers up her wrongdoing, which must be why we didn’t find any evidence of any crime. Still, since I still have a microphone, we’re pretty sure there was some sort of crime committed here and we wouldn’t be doing our job if we ignored Congressman Issa’s and Congressman Malfoy’s hunches and admitted there wasn’t. Just because we didn’t find any crime doesn’t mean there wasn’t one, and probably lots of ‘em. I suspect the defendant would probably have gone on a terrific crime spree if thousands of lawmen with reliably conservative hunches hadn’t spent the past 30 years investigating every part of her public and private life."

“Sometimes you got to be a little cute, a little smarter than they are, to catch these folks, especially when it’s a criminal thing other people do all the time without being arrested or “nailed” as we lawmen like to say. What we have to do in these gray areas,” said the lawman, “is to say it’s OK to talk about stuff, and then after certain people have talked about it to then go in and make it Top Secret at this point. Then we got ‘em. We've got them red handed for committing a crime but only because it wasn’t actually a crime when they did it. Again, I am a lawman and know how this works: it doesn’t matter that it happened before it was a crime. For all we know they were plotting to wait until it was criminal and then commit the crime. We kind of know which people are criminals, that’s why we’re professionals. But we have to be quick enough to catch them, which means jumping in before the thing is actually a crime. We did this by having the crime in our pocket, ready made, to fix them up with. For instance, that’s how we catch traitors. Because traitors are especially cunning about this, pretending to be just as patriotic as you or me. Sometimes if we can’t do it this way, it can work just as well to go in and stamp random shit Top Secret. The folks we want to nail are bound to say something or other and then we can tie them in to the stuff that’s been made Top Secret Ex Post Facto.”

Reporter: “Wouldn’t that make a lot of innocent people into criminals?”

“No, sir. Not everybody. Not people we like. Just the ones we got our eyes on. Regular folks don’t need to worry. That is unless they do something we don’t like, in which case they have only themselves to blame. What this method allows us to do is keep a huge log of crimes in our inventory that we can pull off the rack, so to speak, and fix on people if and when the need arises. So those of you out there who feel worried about being caught. Well, that’s good. You should be worried. Everybody should watch their step at all times because we’re always hunting for people to lock up. That’s called doing our job. How do we know someone is guilty? Here’s how you tell. You accuse them of a crime and if they look guilty they definitely are. We could probably lock up two thirds of the U.S. population if we wanted to. Actually we’d like to but we’re undermanned and underfunded, mostly because of Democrats who criminally refuse to raise our budgets the way we ask. Fortunately lawmen and prosecutors are given a great deal of discretion about who to go after and who to let alone. All you got to do is look at which political party they belong to.”

Which is apparently what goes on in some law enforcement circles. It was more egregious during the Bush years, when the Bush White House fired a number of federal prosecutors for not being team players, for being insufficiently zealous in going after Democrats.

Remember: FBI Director Comey is a Republican. He was appointed by a Democratic president to show that law enforcement in this administration would be impartial, would keep out of partisan witch hunting. (And in the grim aftermath of a disastrous Republican eight years there were a lot of witches to be hunted.) Comey's performance rubbishing Clinton must have been done to save his Republican reputation for team play, which, on that side of the aisle, means his highest priority is scoring points for the Republican team. Justice is a low priority. Due process is not a priority at all, more of an inconvenience, an embarrassment.

Various political analysts have done their work and explained why this firestorm about Hillary Clinton's emails is bullshit because the guidelines she followed were the guidelines followed by her Republican predecessors.

Most notably in Newsweek.

And the New York Times.

It's also been pointed out that the Bush administration deleted many thousands of emails. No uproar over that. Deleting emails only became a sin on the inauguration of Barack Obama.

And isn't it ironic: the thousands of Bush White House emails were deleted during their coverup of the political firings of U.S. Attorneys...

Also, there's evidence that the classified labels stamped on Secretary Clinton's cellphone and email utterances were done so in error.

The lawman finished up his candid off-the-record remarks by saying it’s been a very tough eight years. He came close to tears enumerating the difficulties law officers have had to deal with. "Having to follow the letter of the law has caused law officers a great deal of unnecessary stress. They’ve felt inhibited in the exercise of their duties. Having to always be worrying about this guy’s rights and that guy’s rights has taken their eye off the ball and tied their hands. That will change, hopefully, after this year’s election, if we get a president who’s serious about good old fashioned law and order. A guy who'll let the police and the FBI off the leash so they can do their jobs. So they can bust heads the way they like to. So they can shoot first and ask questions later. So they can cook up good persuasive evidence when they really want a conviction. So they can fit people up and jail them and throw away the key, without the Bill of Rights getting in their way. We’d like a president who restores our God-given right to use thumbscrews and water torture and old fashioned beatings when guilty parties lie and tell us they’re innocent. We’d like a president who’ll give us back the death penalty, because the only thing that makes our convictions safe is when a convicted man is dead and gone. Then you’d start seeing a 100% conviction rate like you used to see in the former East Germany and Iraq, and you still see in well-run countries like Russia and Kazakstan and North Korea and Syria.”

The lawman's wish list for Dear Leader of this country has one name on it right now. Donald Trump.

Of course when the lawman assumes the role of judge and prosecutor, this happens.

And America becomes a police state. It already feels like a police state to some people.

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