What local Democrats are saying
point and counter-point in Democrats Abroad Panama
Investigation by innuendo
FBI Director James Comey revealed on Wednesday that the Bureau was investigating Hillary Clinton’s ties to Bill Clinton. But there was no way the FBI could divulge the results of its Clinton-Clinton probe before Election Day. “We have reason to believe that the ties between these two individuals go back to the nineteen-seventies,” he said. “This will take some time.”
The New Yorker, November 2
Comey knows better. When an investigation is opened, the FBI must shut up and either indict or drop the probe. That’s been the protocol since J. Edgar Hoover illegally wiretapped Martin Luther King Jr.’s philandering and played the tapes for the amusement of the Kennedys and Hoover’s male cronies. This was followed by an anonymous FBI letter sent to King suggesting he should commit suicide rather than accept the Nobel Peace Prize.
I am in favor of government transparency, but not when it collides with basic human rights, or interferes with an election, a violation of the 1938 Hatch Act. The public announcement of the dropping of the Hillary Clinton emails probe should have been left to the Department of Justice and accompanied by a ‘no comment,’ rather than Comey’s lengthy obiter dictum. As for the Anthony Weiner computer files, Comey had no mandate to disclose the launching of that investigation or to qualify the files as ‘pertinent’ to Clinton but not necessarily ‘significant.’
FBI protocol and government ethics forbid Comey’s showboating described above. It creates a trial by innuendo and can weaken a prosecution via the intimidation of witnesses, destruction of documents, or the disappearance of the defendant. More generically, in A Man for All Seasons, Sir Thomas More responds to the argument that government lawbreaking can be justified for the greater good. More countered: “And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you — where would you hide, the laws all being flat?”
Prediction: Within a few months, no matter who is elected, James Comey will be gone. Ostensibly — ‘for the good of the Bureau.’
Chair, Democrats Abroad Panama
Sunshine’s a good broad-spectrum disinfectant
I am a Democrat and I voted for Hillary Clinton for president. I am also a journalist. I am a believer in freedom of information, open meetings and in general “government in the sunshine.” I have also over the years been an activist for the cause of amnesty for political prisoners, including those in the United States. These things sometimes put me at odds with the Obama administration, with the FBI or with Hillary Clinton.
Did the FBI stumble across new information about an emails investigation that had found only a gaffe but no crime, but determine that the new data needed to be evaluated? I think it was the right of Congress to know, irresponsible purveyors of bad fiction that the institution’s GOP leaders might be. The fanciful and downright paranoiac Republican spins, and the reminder that not only Hillary Clinton’s husband but the estranged husband of her aide Huma Abedin tend to get into problematic situations, do not help the Clinton campaign. However, I think that American voters will understand that the Democratic candidate for president is Hillary Clinton and will make their choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, as it is.
And what about the FBI releasing 16-year-old documents about a presidential pardon? If someone had filed a Freedom of Information Act request for that material, it should have been released. If the FBI director decided without such a request to introduce this stuff into the late stages of an election campaign, that’s obnoxious.
The FBI, like the armed forces, ought to be subject to the control of democratically elected civilians. As an institution, do they dislike the use of the constitutional pardon power? That’s not their decision and if it were the country would have taken a step toward an unchecked police state.
But what’s the best protection against both a police state and corruption in high places? A fully informed public.
Communications Director, Democrats Abroad Panama
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