Hillary Clinton may not get punished for trafficking in classified information in an unsecure setting, but others certainly do. The latest example is Army Staff Sgt. Ricardo Branch, 34, who is stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas. He is facing discharge from the Army stemming from an e-mail he sent regarding info about the 2011 raid that killed Osama Bin Laden. The full story is detailed in a recent Washington Times article.
Branch, who was working in public relations for the special operations unit involved in the Bin Laden raid, was concerned about the clearance of some info in an article submitted for Boeing's news service, so he notified his superiors in an e-mail. Since his e-mail also contained the info, he was punished. Branch is now facing discharge because of the ensuing negative mark that was placed on his record. "This sergeant got an Article 15 for basically saying something that was already out in the public square," says Jeffrey Addicott, Terrorism Law Professor at St. Mary's University in San Antonio.
Addicott, who is representing Sgt. Branch on a pro bono basis, does not believe the info in Branch's e-mail rose to the level of classified or sensitive. "The irony is that information was released in 2011 by President Obama very publicly when he went out and thanked that special operations group," says Addicott. Furthermore, the info appeared in an article about the raid on the Army's own website.
Addicott and Branch have now appealed his discharge to the Pentagon, and are hoping for a positive outcome that will save Branch's military career. In the meantime, Addicott can't help but notice the government's double standard when it comes to the handling of classified information. "Staff Sergeant Branch was actually protecting classified information, doing his job, and he loses all his retirement benefits and gets put out of the military that he loves....Hillary Clinton gets nothing," he says.