Northern lights on US election IV : history will not be kind to FBI’s last-minute Orwellian intervention in 2016

Oct 31st, 2016 | By | Category: In Brief

FBI Director James Comey’s last-minute intervention in the 2016 US election – regarding certain freshly discovered “emails of longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin that were found on a device seized during an unrelated sexting investigation of Anthony Weiner” – has cast a dark Orwellian shadow over democracy in America in the early 21st century.

According to a Sunday, October 30 report from the Associated Press : “Dozens of former federal prosecutors, including former Attorney General Eric Holder, have signed a letter critical of Comey’s decision. Among them were Donald B. Ayer, Larry D. Thompson and Lourdes Baird, who were appointed by Republican presidents.”

Moreover : “US Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid sent a letter to Comey on Sunday suggesting he violated the Hatch Act, which bars the use of a federal government position to influence an election … ‘Through your partisan actions, you may have broken the law,’ he said.”

The mindless right-wing argument that Hillary Clinton has brought this all on herself by not releasing all her emails for investigation much earlier is bizarre at best. It is even more incredible when, as the AP has also reported, “the device that appears to be at the centre of the new review was a computer that belonged only” to Anthony Weiner.

Whatever history may in the future decide about the depths behind this particular “October Surprise,” right now it certainly looks a lot like a partisan effort by Republican sympathizers in the FBI to slow down the momentum Hillary Clinton and the Democrats have seemed to be developing over the past few weeks.

(And note, again according to the recent AP report, “another law enforcement official said FBI investigators in the Weiner sexting probe knew for weeks about the existence of the emails potentially related to the probe of Clinton’s server.”)

A law enforcement agency seriously concerned about its proper role in a real democracy would not have ventured onto ground of this sort. Hillary Clinton’s handling of so-called classified documents in all this clamor about emails is not a remotely serious enough issue to justify the (Republican-appointed) FBI Director’s intervention in the election campaign.

Reputable poll aggregators like Nate Silver’s Five Thirty Eight, Real Clear Politics, and Eric Grenier’s CBC poll tracker up here in the true north also suggest the Orwellian intervention is already in some degree pushing support away from Clinton and the Democrats and towards Trump and the Republicans.

At the moment the prospect of Comey’s intervention actually giving the election to Donald Trump still seems nowhere near as great as the prospect of its cutting down the kind of down-ticket Democratic strength, that might give a Hillary Clinton presidency a chance of actually doing something about the problems of democracy in America today that do need real attention.

The good news is that, judging from the TV clips, Ms Clinton herself is standing up to the latest burst of the longstanding right-wing conspiracy against her very well indeed. (“I’m not stopping … we’re just getting warmed up … We’re not going to be distracted, no matter what our opponents throw at us.”) She just looks more and more like the kind of leader the USA needs right now – even in the eyes of Donald Trump. (And meanwhile we should all remember the recent words of that great conservative Max Boot : “The essence of democracy is not to criminalize political differences.”)

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