A former Navy submariner sent to prison for photographing his ship’s classified engine compartments has filed a presidential clemency request, arguing that President-elect Donald Trump should realize the sailor was a “scapegoat” amid the FBI probe into Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified material.
The paperwork was filed Monday with the Justice Department’s office of the pardon attorney, which now will conduct an investigation.
The case of former Machinist Mate 1st Class Kristian Saucier has become a cause celebre for conservatives. They watched the young sailor go to prison for carelessness with classified information while Mrs. Clinton avoided any punishment from the Obama administration.
The inmate’s mother, Kathleen Saucier, became his public advocate in TV interviews during the presidential campaign. She told The Washington Times that her message to Mr. Trump, who takes office Jan. 20, is: “I would like to say to Mr. Trump that I believe that he’s our hope to re-evaluate the way things are done in our government and that we, as American patriots, should never have to be in the position that myself and my family and I am sure many others have been.”
Saucier pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to a charge of unauthorized retention of defense information and was sentenced Aug. 16 to a year in prison. For what he calls a “keepsake,” he took six cellphone pictures of his work area aboard the nuclear attack submarine USS Alexandria in 2009. They remained in his phone.
Saucier now is being represented pro bono by Jeffrey F. Addicott, a retired Army judge advocate who directs the Center for Terrorism Law at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. He seeks to help military service members whom he believes have been treated unfairly by the justice system.
Mr. Addicott told The Times that two other crew members also took prohibited pictures but received light punishment. He argues that Saucier was sent to prison because decisions in his case were made in 2015 and 2016 — at the very time the FBI was investigating Mrs. Clinton’s email use.
“In light of the nonaction by the FBI regarding the mishandling of secret and top-secret materials by Hillary Clinton, it is a gross miscarriage of justice for the federal government to make a scapegoat of Kris Saucier’s minor misconduct in order to demonstrate a deep concern regarding the mishandling of classified information,” Mr. Addicott said.
As secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton conducted her email business on a private server maintained at her New York home. Some of the thousands of emails contained classified information, the FBI determined.
The FBI arrested Saucier in May 2015, two months after Mrs. Clinton’s unauthorized server setup became public. FBI Director James B. Comey announced in July that he would not recommend criminal charges against the Democratic presidential candidate. Saucier was sentenced in August.
Mr. Addicott, who filed the commutation paperwork, is asking for a fast-track investigation so a recommendation on sentence reduction can be made early in the Trump presidency. Saucier is due to be released from prison in October.
The filings include a signed petition from Saucier, who argues that he was subjected to a four-year investigation and “overt harassment” when his misconduct should have been handled in a nonjudicial setting, as are many other military cases.
“The reason for the unjust and disproportionate level of investigation and punishment has nothing to do with the appropriate requirements of justice, but is actually directly tied to a national storm of political hypersensitivity precipitated by the misuse of classified information by former Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton which reached a zenith during the heat of the 2015-2016 presidential election — right at the time that I was being investigated for my misconduct by the FBI and Department of Justice,” Saucier wrote.
‘The clear double standard’
“There can be no doubt that Hillary Clinton’s actions brought considerable scrutiny on the FBI and the Department of Justice to ensure that any other mishandling of sensitive information be met with swift and stringent federal prosecution. Accordingly, there can be no doubt that this caused my case to be pushed up to the extreme levels that it reached. I was a scapegoat.”
The Justice Department public affairs office issued a press release in May announcing that Saucier had pleaded guilty to one count of unauthorized possession and retention of national defense information.
The statement read in part: “On Jan. 19, 2009, Saucier took two photos, one of the auxiliary steam plant panel and the other of the reactor compartment viewed through a portal. On March 22, 2009, Saucier took two photos that, when placed side by side, provided a panoramic array of the maneuvering compartment, the room from which the propulsion system of the boat is operated. On July 15, 2009, Saucier took two photos documenting the reactor head configuration of the nuclear reactor and a view of the reactor compartment from within that compartment.”
The federal probe began in March 2012, when Saucier’s cellphone was found in a waste transfer station in Hampton, Connecticut. The Los Angeles-class USS Alexandria’s home port is Groton.
The press release said that after Saucier was interviewed by the FBI and confronted with the discarded camera, he returned home and destroyed a laptop computer and other devices.
At his sentencing in August, his attorneys told the judge, “Saucier admitted that he knew when he took the pictures in 2009 that they were classified and that he did so out of the misguided desire to keep these pictures in order to one day show his family and his future children what he did while he was in the Navy.”
After 11 years of service, Saucier received a less-than-honorable discharge because of his felony conviction. He was sent to the Federal Medical Center, Devens, a prison near Boston. He has a service disability for an injury he suffered in the engine room that required four surgeries. He also has post-traumatic stress disorder, his mother said.
She said she has spent $70,000 in trial attorneys’ fees and that the FBI falsely accused her of colluding with her son, which forced her to resign from her federal job.
Mrs. Saucier became the public advocate for her son, who has a wife and a 1-year-old child. Once released, Saucier will not be eligible for veterans disability payments because of his conviction.
Mr. Addicott also has asked for a presidential pardon as well as release from incarceration.
“I’m screaming about the clear double standard,” Mrs. Saucier said. “He admitted he took six shots on the submarine that he should not have done. Never transmitting. No intent to harm our country whatsoever. And yet Hillary Clinton during the debates admitted she made a mistake by having a private server in her home and basically just asked us to move on and allow her to run for president of the United States. My son accepts responsibility for six photos at the lowest levels of classification. Hillary Clinton accepts responsibility for thousands of emails, hundreds of emails at high levels of classifications.”
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