Understanding the difference between grossly negligent and extremely careless

The answer is that there is no difference. James Comey says Hillary Clinton was extremely careless in her handling of top secret information, which is a crime.


WASHINGTON, July 6, 2016 — FBI director James Comey concluded that Hillary Clinton was extremely careless in her handling of classified information.

According to the espionage act, gross negligence in the handling of classified information is a crime. Comey didn’t recommend prosecution of Clinton because she was just extremely careless but not, it seems, grossly negligent.

What’s the difference?

According to the Federal Bar Association, negligence is “An act or the omission to do something which a reasonable and prudent person would, or would not, do under similar circumstances.”

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To the average person this means simply the failure to take proper care. Black’s Law Dictionary’s definition of gross negligence includes the words “extreme carelessness.”

According to Webster’s dictionary careless is simply defined as “the failure to take proper care.” “Grossly” and “extremely” are adjectives that have similar meanings. There is no clear difference between “grossly negligent” and “extremely careless.”

Then why did Comey recommend to not prosecute Clinton?

After his 15-minute press conference to give the American people the results of the FBI criminal investigation, Comey quickly left without taking questions from the press. It is likely that a reporter would have asked the same question.

During the first 12 minutes of his press conference, Comey delivered damning information about Clinton’s behavior. He clearly outlined the extreme carelessness that Clinton used when handling classified information. He said the investigation found that Clinton had been untruthful to the American public.

Even the Washington Post, which has offered numerous editorials defending Clinton wrote, “Comey laid bare a litany of facts that amounted to a stern admonishment of her (Clinton’s) judgment, management and stewardship of state secrets.”

Comey said that at least 113 emails were marked classified at the time they passed through Clinton’s server. In March 2015, Clinton said, “I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified material.” In July 2016, Clinton said, “I never received nor sent any material that was marked classified.”

Comey said, “Even if information is not marked classified in an email, participants who know, or should know, that the subject matter is classified are still obligated to protect it.”

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Comey continued, “several thousand work-related emails … were not in the group of 30,000” that Clinton returned to the state department. Clinton said, “I responded right away and provided all my emails that could possibly be work related.”

The FBI found at least four more statements made by Clinton to be untruthful.  In one instance, she made a statement under oath that was proven to be untrue. That is usually viewed as perjury.

So why did Comey not recommend that the justice department prosecute Clinton?

So far we do not know the answer. Comey will have to testify before Congress, who will want to know the answer. Unbiased legal experts would probably find no difference between extreme carelessness and gross negligence, and would therefore recommend further action against Clinton.

Comey did say that based on precedent, his view was that a prosecutor would not proceed, thus he recommendation that prosecution not move forward. He added that, in the past, individuals who were negligent did suffer a penalty; many lost their access to classified information.

If the same standard is applied to Clinton, she should lose her access to classified information. Without that, she cannot function as president and should be disqualified. Senator Marco Rubio is calling on John Kerry to apply the established rules of the State Department to Clinton and her staff, all who should be disqualified from ever holding another security clearance.

Comey says “bad actors” had access to the email of Clinton and her staff, meaning that all those individuals could be open to blackmail.

The American people deserve to know the truth and they deserve a president who will be honest, open and transparent. After almost eight years of President Obama, voters should and will demand this. Clinton has been untruthful and has acted above the law.

We can’t afford four more years of Obama’s deception.

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