‘I Still Have Difficulty Understanding How My Mistake Landed Me in Prison’
Exclusive interview: Former Navy sailor was sentenced while Hillary Clinton, others remain free — 'a pardon would restore my faith in gov't'
Kristian Saucier’s story has been written about in detail and discussed on national television and radio regularly for the past year and a half. The former petty officer first class was sentenced in the summer of 2016 to a year in prison for taking six photographs of his workstation inside the USS Alexandria’s propulsion system while he labored in the ship’s engine room as a 22-year-old in 2009.
The pictures surfaced when the discarded phone was found in a dumpster. After authorities were contacted, the case was brought to trial needlessly by a Barack Obama-appointed United States prosecutor, Deirdre M. Daly.
Similar matters are generally handled by the military internally via the nonjudicial punishment (NJP) system, and there had been several instances of offenses equal to the one committed by Saucier (shown above during his Navy days) that resulted in a customary punishment of a reduction in rank and/or a fine equivalent to half a month’s pay.
The case attracted national attention and was mentioned several times on the 2016 campaign trail by then-candidate Donald Trump during the presidential election last year, as he asked the question, “Are certain individuals, namely Hillary Clinton, above the law?”
More recently, the president again referred to the case when pointing out that Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin had been accused of disregarding security protocols. In a tweet on January 2, Trump wrote: “Crooked Hillary Clinton’s top [aide], Huma Abedin, has been accused of disregarding basic security protocols. She put Classified Passwords into the hands of foreign agents. Remember sailor’s pictures on submarine? Jail! Deep State Justice Dept must finally act? Also on Comey & others.”
This writer had the opportunity to interview Saucier by telephone several days ago and to get his thoughts on the president, on Clinton — and on the differences in how Saucier’s case was treated, versus the way the cases of disgraced former service members Bowe Bergdahl and Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning were handled.
Jumping ahead here, I believe a pardon of Saucier by President Donald Trump would remedy the negative effects of an egregious and malicious, politically motivated hit job. Trump would also be sending a message to our beloved heroes in uniform that they will not be sacrificed for political purposes under his watch.
Question: Recently, President Trump brought up in a tweet the disparity in treatment between the way your case was handled and the fact that former Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin ignored basic security protocols — for which she has not yet been charged. He also referenced a “deep state.” Do you feel there is a “deep state” and that certain individuals are protected from prosecution due to their political status?
Answer: Absolutely, I believe there is a deep state. How else would Hillary Clinton, Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin and John Podesta evade prosecution for breaking the law on such an egregious scale?
How is it that [former FBI Director James] Comey drafted an exhortation before conducting interviews and said there was no need to prosecute because there was no intent? I believe that the fix was in early on regardless of the facts. A corrupt DOJ and FBI coordinated to ensure a different standard was applied to the Clinton crimes than would be applied to an average citizen like me.
Q; We all know the outcome of the Bowe Bergdahl case: He was spared a jail sentence for desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. Five soldiers died as a result of his actions. We are also aware of the Chelsea Manning case, in which this individual received a commutation of remaining prison time for leaking classified information, including information that could have compromised the safety of servicemen. Are you surprised by how often Trump has alluded to your case — from the campaign trail last year to this week, and that he has not pardoned you for what amounted to a crime generally prosecuted by nonjudicial punishment?
A: I still have difficulty understanding how my mistake landed me in prison, when others who have done far worse have gotten by with a slap in the wrist or were exonerated by then-President Obama, who called them a hero knowing they were a traitor. Unfortunately, I was used as a pawn by the Obama administration to take heat off someone he touted as “the most qualified” person to ever run for the office of president [Hillary Clinton] — who had mishandled information of the highest levels and knowingly placed the safety of our country at risk.
Q: There was trauma for you associated with your trial — and it put a strain on you and your family. You’ve also endured the ramifications of having received a less than honorable discharge and the worry of what that means for your future employment prospects. What would a pardon from President Trump mean for you at this point, months after completion of your prison sentence?
A: A pardon would do so much more than just restore my good name. It would restore my faith in our system of government that is supposed to protect those who protect the rights of all Americans by risking their lives serving in the military.
“Just because you dedicate your life to defending freedom and the American way of life doesn’t mean that one day you won’t be tossed aside by the very government you served — and used as a political pawn to take the heat off unpatriotic, self-serving elitists like Hillary Clinton.”
Q: If the pardon you seek is never granted, would your perception of the president change, considering the amount of times he’s used your case to make a point? And would you feel as if you had been used as a prop in what amounts to compelling political theater?
A: I am still hopeful President Trump will follow through on his promise to correct the wrongs of the Obama administration. One of those was my excessive punishment for a crime that others were not even considered for prosecution for after far more serious violations of the same law were committed, solely because they were politically connected.
I have accepted the possibility that this may never happen, and that what has happened to me may never be made right. If he chooses not to right this wrong, I am worried about the message he might be sending to all Americans. It’s a message that says, “Just because you dedicate your life to defending freedom and the American way of life doesn’t mean that one day you won’t be tossed aside by the very government you served — and used as a political pawn to take the heat off unpatriotic, self-serving elitists like Hillary Clinton.”
Julio Rivera is editorial director of ReactionaryTimes.com. He’s also a small business consultant and a featured columnist at Newsmax.com; he is based in New York City.
(photo credit, homepage and article images: DailyMail / U.S. District Court of Connecticut)