Back in elementary school when I learned the branches of government it was really quite simple. The Legislative Branch made the laws, the Executive Branch enforced the laws and the Judicial Branch interpreted the laws. Of course by high school, we learned there was a little more to it, but it still was not overly complex—in addition to the original equation, the Legislative Branch also allocated funds for the government, the Executive Branch also administered government and the Judicial Branch also made certain everything was constitutional. It never seemed too difficult to understand how it worked
Today, however, it seems it doesn’t matter what laws the Legislative Branch passes (if they get along long enough to pass anything), the Executive Branch can choose not to enforce (or make up their own laws) and in some cases, the Judicial Branch can consider factors outside of the Constitution and current statutes.
Case in point, Tuesday Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey stated with regards to the Clinton email server investigation, “Our investigation looked at whether there is evidence classified information was improperly stored or transmitted on that personal system, in violation of a federal statute making it a felony to mishandle classified information either intentionally or in a grossly negligent way, or a second statute making it a misdemeanor to knowingly remove classified information from appropriate systems or storage facilities.”
He went on to say, “Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.
“Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case...All the cases [previously] prosecuted involved some combination of: clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information; or vast quantities of materials exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct; or indications of disloyalty to the United States; or efforts to obstruct justice.”
So to clarify, the FBI determined that she broke the law by using a private email server for classified information (who couldn’t have foreseen that), but since they could not find that she meant to commit treason (or obstruct justice) she should not be prosecuted because no one has been charged for mishandling classified information in this manner before.
Makes one wonder what other laws are being violated by Washington bureaucrats that are not being enforced or prosecuted.
Although it can be a mitigating factor to punishment, intentions or even ignorance of a law is not an excuse in the eyes of the court. If you break the law, you break the law. Of course our Executive Branch (when held by either party) in recent years has partaken in selective enforcement of American laws—look at immigration or gun control. And then of course our ineffectual Legislative Branch just tries to make more laws to make up for the laws not being enforced. No wonder everything is a convoluted mess!
It is time to pull back government. It is time to go back to the basics—to what we learned in civics.
It is time to demand better results and better accountability. It is time to eliminate career politicians and fat retirement pensions. It’s time to scale back and start paying down our debt. It’s time to start electing statesmen instead of politicians. Because ultimately, we are the ones that will continue paying the price for our dysfunctional government.
Mary Hoisington is the publisher of the Great Bend Tribune. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org