Among the many famous monuments and important offices that populate Washington, D.C., my favorite has always been the Supreme Court Building.
There’s nothing actually impressive about the structure itself. It’s just another of the city’s many examples of neoclassical architecture. It even lacks the crowds and commotion that accompany most others, probably because there’s nothing to see inside but an ornate chamber and nine rather unimpressive looking chairs.
Still, whenever I walked passed the building during my years working for then-Congressman Bob Riley on Capitol Hill, I’d always pause, look up, and pay a moment’s homage to the four words inscribed above the building’s main entrance:
“Equal Justice Under Law.”
They were written in letters as tall as a man, and though it may sound exaggerated, my heart would swell a bit whenever I read them. To me, those words meant that it didn’t matter who you were, where you came from, who your father was or wasn’t, whether you were rich or poor, illiterate or educated, powerful or weak, or even right or wrong. In America, it meant that you’d be treated equally before the law. Whatever may happen in our political system, we had that belief, and it was something to cherish, and protect.
Yesterday, those words were made a mockery of.
Hillary Clinton steadfastly maintained that she “did not email any classified material to anyone” after she sought to hide official communication from public records requests by using a personal email account for state business.
Yet the FBI reviewed some of those emails, and its director, James Comey, just told us that “110 emails in 52 email chains have been determined … to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received.” He added that “eight of those chains contained information that was ‘top secret’ at the time they were sent” and that “36 of those chains contained ‘secret’ information at the time they were sent.”
No reasonable person believes that Hillary Clinton didn’t break several laws when she did this, yet Comey concluded that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring charges.
Tell that to retired General David Petraeus. He took classified papers home to aid his memory while discussing parts of his career with a biographer, and lover. The fact that he was a national hero whose vision and leadership saved countless lives in Iraq didn’t matter. If we truly believe in “Equal Justice Under Law,” then the general had to pay the price. And pay, he did.
Tell that to former CIA director John Deutch. In the mid-1990s it was learned that he kept classified information on his home computer. President Bill Clinton pardoned Deutch shortly before the Justice Department could file charges for mishandling government secrets. Did it matter that he was our nation’s top spy and that he surely didn’t “intend” to put any of that information at risk? If we truly believe in “Equal Justice Under Law,” then no, it doesn’t matter.
Tell that to Sandy Berger, who served as Bill Clinton’s national security adviser in the late 1990s. He pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge for sneaking classified documents from the National Archives, then later destroying them. Did it matter that Berger said he was only trying to fact check something prior to testifying before the 9/11 commission? Not if we believe in “Equal Justice Under Law.”
Finally, tell that to former Navy reservist Bryan Nishimura. After serving from 2007-2008 in Afghanistan, he downloaded classified information and took it home. Did it matter that Nishimura said he didn’t intend to break the law, and was only, as his lawyer put it, a “pack rat.” Again, “Equal Justice Under Law.”
So what do Petraeus, Deutch, Berger, and Nishimura all have in common?
Besides the fact that they were all held accountable for their mistakes, none are fortunate enough to have the last name of “Clinton.”
“Equal Justice Under Law?”
Meanwhile, now that our nation’s top law enforcement officials have spectacularly failed to discharge their constitutional duties, it’s left to the American people to hold Hillary Clinton accountable by the only means we have left – the ballot box.