Ruth Marcus wrote in the Washington Post on 28 July 2015 that there is no scandal in Mrs. Clinton’s use of a non-secure e-mail server to conduct State Department business.
Now this asinine assertion probably should not come as a surprise for a newspaper whose employee Dana Priest won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize (for Treason?) by revealing and thereby compromising an essential and extremely productive CIA covert-action program and endangering the officers involved. But as lawless as Ms. Priest’s and the Post’s actions were in regard to divulging classified intelligence operations, Mrs. Clinton’s are far worse, as is Ruth Marcus’s partisan, lighthearted pooh-poohing of what seems to be Mrs. Clinton’s clear and deliberate criminality.
While I have been out of the CIA since November, 2004, and know nothing about the content of her mails — save for those now published and identified as classified — I do know that Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server to conduct State Department business, and to receive and respond to e-mails from the White House and other government agencies would get any other executive branch employee disciplined or fired, and almost certainly indicted — unless the White House intervened to prevent the enforcement of pertinent laws and regulations.
Why is this case? Well, there are several reasons, none of which are too difficult to understand.
- Mrs. Clinton convicted herself of breaking the law with words from her own mouth. She said that e-mails she turned over to the State Department had to be redacted before they were released. By definition, non-classified e-mails do not need to be redacted because there is nothing classified to remove. Mrs. Clinton’s e-mails may well be politically or personally compromising, but neither is a legal reason for redacting them. Mrs. Clinton chose to put her State Department work on her private e-mail server and if there is no classified material in the e-mails the public that paid her must be allowed see them in their entirety.
- The national government mandates by law that its employees in the military, intelligence, and diplomatic communities use government-secured IT equipment to transact government business. This is not an option; to deliberately do otherwise is a criminal act for which an employee can be severely disciplined, fired, and/or indicted. Mrs. Clinton publicly admitted she chose to ignore the law and use a non-secure e-mail server for the sake of her own personal convenience. Again, she is convicted out of her own mouth, as are those who have publicly admitted they knew of and used her non-government, non-secure e-mail channel and did nothing to stop her activity or to alert security officers to her violations of the law. It is worth recalling that a former CIA director engaged in comparable illegal activity with IT devices and had to be pardoned by Mrs. Clinton’s husband to avoid punishment.
- Mrs. Clinton’s tenure-long use of a private e-mail server coincided with extraordinarily costly hacks of secure U.S. government IT systems by individuals, criminal organizations, and foreign governments Notwithstanding her full awareness of these attacks — and the detailed detailed briefings she likely was given on the damage done by them — she chose to continue to deliberately risk the near-certain exposure of her work as Secretary of State to the nation’s enemies. In publicly commenting, Mrs. Clinton has shown precisely no remorse or even a smidgen of concern for knowingly putting her county and countrymen at risk by using an e-mail server far easier to hack than those of the U.S. government which have been hacked by America’s enemies.
- Mrs. Clinton’s personal and classified e-mails are of top-priority interest to foreign governments and their intelligence services, as are those of the president, vice president, and cabinet members, as well as the department heads, senior-level bureaucrats, and flag officers involved in U.S. defense, intelligence, and diplomatic affairs. Foreign intelligence services surely want to know what policies the U.S. government is planning to adopt and implement and what military activities it is going to take. But almost as important to those services is any unflattering personal information that can be acquired and then be used to leverage — or, more accurately, blackmail — senior elected and appointed U.S. officials into agreeing to deals that are much less than optimal for U.S. economic and national-security interests. Given the Clinton family’s well-documented reputation for making unsavory and even felonious behavior its trademark, Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private server would — to an outside observer — appear to be not only illegal in terms of the conditions of her U.S. government employment, but a case of adolescent and perhaps politically suicidal recklessness in terms of the myriad things the Clintons presumably intend to keep out of the public domain.
These four points, I think, constitute a prima facie justification for an immediate criminal investigation of Mrs. Clinton, as well as a damage assessment conducted by intelligence and law enforcement agencies that will inform the national government and the public of what damage Mrs. Clinton deliberately inflicted on national security by her arrogant refusal to use the government’s secure IT systems.
Any other U.S. government employee whose behavior mirrored that of Mrs. Clinton would already be indicted, awaiting trial, and plea bargaining.