TOM PLATE WRITES: A long time ago, it seems like a thousand years now, I worked in the State Department, however briefly, with the honor of a formal security clearance. In that role, as a backup speechwriter (I was quite young, but loved the experience, totally respected the careerists there), hundreds of so-named CLASSIFIED documents would wing in and out of my In Box every day.
Loving everything about the State Dept. job, I read as many of them as I could. Most of them were bland and barely informative and you often had to wonder why the document originator had even bothered (perhaps just to remind his or her bosses in Washington of their existence in the field?). Even docs stamped SECRET would rarely offer enough sexy heft to lift an eyebrow. And as the volume of classified documents back then was daunting, I cannot imagine what the sum of the average daily document dosage might total today. Logically, how can any State Department official not drown in such bureaucratic busy-work who has not endured serious professional training in speed reading?
FBI Director James Comey today (7 July) offered us an impressive and convincing account of his Bureau’s work on the Hillary Clinton email case. Many of the critical questions from the Congressional Committee seemed – to me at least – lame, contentious, conspiratorial, sometimes, sadly, silly. A few decent points were scored. Maybe I am way off on this, but it does seem to me that the Pope would have been an easier target for the Committee than Comey. A lot of people in this country (and in many others) actually respect the Federal Bureau of Investigation (and respect it a lot more than Congress, for sure).
Yes, Mrs. Hillary Clinton should have been more careful – even near-impeccable – even with the avalanche aimed at her daily during the four years the former First Lady and U.S. senator was America’s top diplomat. But she wasn’t. Surprise? No. She is far from perfect, grown too comfortable with power at the top table, and in some serious sense oddly dismissive of the normal rules of political gravity.
In the end, the FBI concluded she was guilty of no crime, and I believe in the integrity and common sense of that judgment. But I also believe Mrs. Clinton was guilty of a serious political crime – exposing herself to the suspicion that she would be miscast as president. Personally, I think there is still a good distance to go before we get to that definitive conclusion. And of course let us hope such a tragic destination never arrives. For all her faults, Mrs. Clinton is the more qualified candidate for the top job vacant in January than the other presumptive party nominee. And at this moment, this is no close call. So, my fellow Americans, keep your fingers crossed that much more of this kind of mess is not in the immediate campaign future. But we certainly should not hang her out to dry politically on her email cock-up. It was not, as the FBI says, a serious crime.