What is Gross Negligence?
Gross negligence is essentially an extreme (or a high degree of) carelessness. It is also clearly associated with a wanton neglect to exercise reasonable care under certain circumstances.
In the case of classified defense information, gross negligence refers to a failure to carry out a special obligation to care for national defense secrets.
What’s the Issue with Clinton’s Personal Email Servers and Gross Negligence?
Simply put. Was Clinton grossly negligent in her handling of national security secrets? It would sound from FBI Director James Comey’s statement this week that Clinton’s actions were grossly negligent. Comey went so far as to use the words “reckless” and “extremely careless” with regard to Clinton and her staff’s actions. That seems to be the very definition of “gross negligence.”
Yet, Comey indicated they thought “no reasonable proscutor would bring such a case.” Was that a carefully-worded observation of the likely outcome, or an actual recommendation to not prosecute?
What are the Facts?
A quick overview of some key Clinton facts, gleaned from Comey’s statement:
- Clinton used multiple servers and multiple administrators over her 4 years at the State Department
- Clinton only supplied about 30,000 emails to the State Department in 2014
- 110 emails in 52 email chains were found to be classified by the owning agency at the time they were sent or received
- 8 email chains were determined to be Top Secret at the time they were sent
- 36 email chains were Secret
- 8 email chains were Confidential
- 2,000 additional emails were up-classified to Confidential
- FBI found several thousand work-related emails that were not part of the 30,000 emails
- No direct evidence of computer intrusion by “hostile actors”
- Didn’t think they would see such direct evidence of hostile actors
- No clear evidence of “intent” to violate the laws.
What’s the Issue about Clinton’s Intent vs. Gross Negligence?
Although I’m not a lawyer, my understanding is that Section 793(f) of Title 18 is that gross negligence does not require “intent.” It seems possible that a person who acts recklessly or with extreme carelessness can be held liable for violating the law, even without intent.
What Does All this Mean? For Example, Does This Mean that a Presidential Candidate is above the Law?
It appears that this is a matter for the people. Clinton’s future is ultimately in the hands of the American voters.
For More Information on This Year’s Presidential Election plus All of My Ten Surprising Predictions
Please read my new book Great News for America. In it, I make ten surprising predictions that will probably come true before, during, and after the 2016 presidential election. I also discuss in Chapters 5, 6 and 7 the political party realignments of the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, and a possible new third party. It’s available in a print edition from Amazon and other book sellers. It’s also available on Kindle and other e-book devices.