The Corner

Politics & Policy

Double Standards Revealed: Marine Punished for Less Wrongdoing Than Hillary

It had to happen. As I outlined in my piece last week about the difference in legal treatment between the powerful and the peons, anyone who thinks that Hillary Clinton properly handled classified information should just observe what happens when lower-ranking officials engage in similar — or even lesser — behavior. And lo and behold, along comes the story of Marine Major Jason Brezler:

[A] decorated Marine officer who has deployed four times faces being discharged from the corps he loves because he used his personal email to send a single classified report as an urgent warning when lives were at stake.

The stateside message from Marine Reserves Major Jason Brezler to Forward Operating Base Delhi in Now Zad, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, went unheeded. Three young Marines were shot to death as they worked out in a gym by an Afghan teen brought on the base by the same corrupt and double-dealing pedophile police chief whom Brezler had declared to be an immediate threat.

Yet the only person to be investigated in connection with the killings is Brezler, the Marine who sought to prevent them.

The short version of Major Brezler’s story is that he responded to an urgent request for information about a corrupt Afghan named Sarwar Jan by emailing a report about Jan to a Marine downrange. The report, however, was classified — sent on Brezler’s unclassified system. Brezler reported himself through the chain of command, and he now faces discharge from the Marines. Unfortunately, Brezler’s warnings about Jan went unheeded, and one of Jan’s so-called “chai boys” killed three Marines.

If the reporting is correct, Major Brezler violated the law. The only real question is whether the circumstances — an emergency need to communicate the information — should mitigate his punishment. As for Clinton, what emergency was she responding to that necessitated keeping her private email servers in a bathroom? What emergency required her to send classified information in (at the latest count) hundreds of emails on that unclassified bathroom system? 

Unless the Clinton email issue is resolved justly, the double standard will be an open wound on the rule of law, with every defendant in a case of mishandled classified information able to point to Hillary Clinton as the outstanding example of selective prosecution. Again and again, we’ll see relatively powerless service-members and federal employees terminated and perhaps even prosecuted for conduct less reckless than Hillary Clinton’s. But that’s just fine with Hillary. Will it be acceptable to the Obama administration?

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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