The Life and Death of a Public Servant

Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable…
Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle;
the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

When does public service become a life and death proposition?

Two of the main political figures that pushed for and ultimately received UK independence from the European Union were Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson. What fate has befallen them after such a grand and unexpected victory? Within two weeks of the biggest political win of his life, Farage resigned as leader of the rising Ukip party, saying that “During the referendum I said I wanted my country back … now I want my life back.” Some say that the end of his public life comes out of concern for his safety and the safety of his family after years of intensifying death threats.

As for Boris, his downfall comes from a turn of events more reminiscent of Game of Thrones. Johnson’s former Brexit ally, former Oxford schoolmate and friend, and the chairman-in-waiting of Johnson’s campaign to be Prime Minister, Justice Secretary Michael Gove, made a surprise statement on the eve preceding Johnson’s much anticipated campaign announcement. Gove thundered “I have come, reluctantly, to the conclusion that Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead.” That treacherous act was the end of poor old Boris and the political ambitions he carefully crafted since being mayor of London. He was used up as the Brexit posterchild to be backstabbed by his friend and tossed to the bin.

Cameron is toast after his embarrassing miscalculation of calling for an EU referendum proved himself out of touch with the mood of a wide swath of the British public and the true feelings of drunken football hooligans outside of posh London circles. With Cameron, Farage, and Johnson shuffled out of center stage, the UK conservative wing is in complete disarray. Beleaguered Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn is not in any position to capitalize on the chaos of the right wing, himself being on the losing end of a vote of no confidence where 75% of Labour lawmakers voted against him. The entire UK political structure has been rocked by Brexit shockwaves.

On the other side of the pond in the U.S. of A., public servants are also experiencing political upheaval and the threat of death is constantly lingering above their heads as if to suggest one wrong move or one bad day may bring the guillotine crashing down.

FBI Director James Comey made an extraordinarily politically expedient speech last weekend, putting a nice red ribbon to wrap up the FBI’s almost 12 month investigation of Hillary Clinton’s  usage of a private email server at her residence to store classified government communications.While Comey’s final recommendation to the Justice Department was that “no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case,” he went out of his way to say some damning things:
(1) that Secretary Clinton and her colleagues “were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information”
(2) “it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail account”
(3) “It is also likely that there are other work-related e-mails that they did not produce to State… that are now gone because they deleted all e-mails they did not return to State, and the lawyers cleaned their devices in such a way as to preclude complete forensic recovery”
(4) “this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences”

What’s the difference between extreme carelessness and gross negligence you ask? Good question. Even famed legal eagle Alan Dershowitz has trouble parsing out this meaningless, mealy-mouthed language. The answer probably has something to do with whether or not you are a Clinton and a leading contender to be the next President.

As Dershowitz notes, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is supposed to do just that: investigate. The government’s top lawyer, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, is supposed to be the one to choose whether or not a prosecution should be pursued. As it so happens, Lynch’s big break and stepping stone to the Attorney General position came in 1999 when President Bill Clinton nominated her as  U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. Talk about a conflict of interest. You cannot make this stuff up.

The two old pals had a chance encounter on June 28th on the tarmac of the Phoenix Airport, one week before Comey’s statements. What did Bill and Loretta talk about? Lynch told reporters “Our conversation was a great deal about his grandchildren.”

One major reason Comey presented to the public for his decision was that the FBI did not see any “intentional and willful mishandling of classified information.” Of course, even if that is true, it is beside the point: the U.S. criminal code (Code Section 793 (f)) unequivocally says proving intent is not required in order to prosecute the failure to safeguard state secrets.

It’s worth taking a moment to remember the aborted public career of former CIA Director and four-star general David Petraeus who passed on sensitive government secrets to his biographer mistress and who, not having the protection afforded to him of being a presidential nominee, a former Secretary of State, or a Clinton, suffered two year probation and a $100,000 fine to the ire of the FBI who fervently pushed to put their CIA rival behind bars. He had no intent to harm the United States or aid a foreign power.

But to put this all in perspective, dear reader, I ask you this: in the face of overwhelming gross negligence, would you yourself as a public servant recommend the prosecution of a leading presidential candidate, former Secretary of State, wife of a former President, and real-life incarnation of House of Cards’ conniving Claire Underwood? And this within a week of AG Lynch publicly saying she will accept whatever recommendation the FBI makes and the sitting President suddenly comes out to say “I’m with her, I am fired up, and I cannot wait to get out there to campaign for Hillary”? At the end of the day James Comey is a devoted husband and father of five children that would rather sacrifice his reputation than turn over the (rotten) apple cart and put himself and family in harm’s way. But even if Hillary is going to get away with it, Comey should be lauded for his brave remarks.

Conveniently, those remarks and the fruits of the FBI investigation into the biggest political scandal of the year will all be swept under the rug after the events in Dallas on Friday. Down the street from where JFK’s life was taken, a 25-year-old Afghanistan veteran and black militant interrupted a Black Lives Matter protest to ambush on-duty white police officers with a semi-automatic rifle from a parking garage, killing 5 officers and injuring 7 others.

The 24/7 news cycle was reset Friday night. Trump writes “We must restore law and order.” Clinton wants to spend an additional $1 billion on “police training” and she wants to nationalize police standards. Maybe some of that money can be used to train local police on how to better use all the weapons of war that Homeland Security sold to them for pennies on the dollar leftover from imperial adventures overseas.

Meanwhile, America and the West’s corrupt, broken political order inch closer to the dustbin of history.

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