In a move that just drips with irony, President Obama’s Department of Sometimes-There's-Justice has filed a criminal complaint against a Maryland-based NSA contractor who allegedly kept classified government documents at his home, including hard copies of several documents with Top Secret information as well as “digital copies” of plenty of other files. And if that's already giving you one head-spinning case of deja vu, it gets better.
From a DOJ press release:
According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Martin was a contractor with the federal government and had a top secret national security clearance. Martin was arrested late on Aug. 27, 2016. The complaint was filed on Aug. 29, 2016 and unsealed today.
On Aug. 27, 2016, search warrants were executed at Martin’s residence in Glen Burnie, Maryland, including two storage sheds, as well as upon his vehicle and person. During execution of the warrants, investigators located hard-copy documents and digital information stored on various devices and removable digital media. A large percentage of the materials recovered from Martin’s residence and vehicle bore markings indicating that they were property of the U.S. government and contained highly classified information, including Top Secret and Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI). In addition, investigators located property of the U.S. government with an aggregate value in excess of $1,000, which Martin allegedly stole.
The FBI noted that “The documents have been reviewed by a person designated as an original classification authority, and in each instance, the authority has determined that the documents are currently and properly classified as Top Secret, meaning that unauthorized disclosure reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the U.S.”
If he’s convicted, Martin could face a year in prison for keeping unauthorized documents at his house, and up to ten years for stealing government property.
However, one government official involved in the investigation told the New York Times that the incident "did not look like an espionage case," and that Martin's actions are "not politically motivated." Good enough, right?
So if he’s smart, Martin will simply invoke any of the newly-discovered and publicly tested excuses why one should get away with keeping government information in their bedside table. Martin could defend his choice by saying he simply “made a mistake” when he retained and stored the government information at his private residence. He could also offer to simply wipe the digital devices with a cloth, or purge them with BleachBit to make sure all the sensitive government data was removed. He could turn over all the information to the FBI after taking one last gander to make sure nothing personal of his was still on the hard drive, or he could simply smash them with a hammer.
After all, that’s all it took for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to get away with retaining and storing classified government information on her private server at her Chappaqua home, which she held onto for years even after she left the State Department. However, in that particular case, the Justice Department declined to pursue the case or charge Clinton with any crime, brushing off her actions as simply being “extremely careless” with our national security information.
Then again, Martin wasn’t a top contender for the office of president, and his last name isn’t Clinton.