By Pam Martens: March 3, 2016
The Washington Post is reporting this morning that the FBI is conducting a criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton’s handling of emails during her tenure as Secretary of State. Clinton substituted her own private server in place of the government’s secure system. The Post also reports that the FBI has “secured the cooperation of Bryan Pagliano, who worked on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign before setting up the server in her New York home in 2009.” According to the article, Pagliano has been given a grant of immunity by the Justice Department.
While Hillary Clinton has said that none of the emails were classified at the time they were sent, the Post notes that “I. Charles McCullough III, the inspector general of the intelligence community, has indicated that some of the material intelligence officials have reviewed contained information that was classified at the time it was sent.”
Another deeply troubling element in the story is that material now ruled to have been classified was authored by Clinton as well as by top aides, including Jacob Sullivan, who is “now advising Clinton’s campaign on foreign policy and is thought to be a likely candidate for national security adviser if she is elected president.” (That sentence is likely sparking more outrage throughout the U.S. intelligence community today, raising further fears about Hillary Clinton as Commander in Chief.) A total of 22 emails that were transmitted over Clinton’s private server have now been ruled to be “Top Secret” and cannot be released to the public, even in redacted form.
As someone who previously handled classified material for our government, which invariably involves protecting the lives of fellow Americans, I can find no possible excuse for the cavalier attitude that Hillary Clinton demonstrated as Secretary of State.
In my early twenties, after passing multiple background checks, I became part of a group of editors for a subcontractor to the Navy to edit the equipment manuals for the Polaris and Poseidon nuclear missile class of submarines. The manuals did not have the highest security classification, “Top Secret,” but one below that, “Secret.”
While many paragraphs in the manuals were not classified, when there was even one page or paragraph or sentence that was classified, the entire manual became classified. In other words, the document takes on the classification of its most sensitive part. That is how Mrs. Clinton should have thought about the tens of thousands of State Department emails going over a private server from her home.
My experience was that even those in the lowly trenches took national security seriously. Our pencils were stamped with “Loose lips sink ships.” Overlooking even a small typo in the text of the manuals was grounds for termination. When we left for the day, the manuals were locked in file cabinets with heavy steel bars across the front and impregnable locks. The facility itself was under round-the-clock security.
The idea that a Yale Law School graduate and two-term Senator like Hillary Clinton would not understand the gross negligence involved in transmitting tens of thousands of, at the very least, highly sensitive government communications from a household server raises a host of concerns about what was really going on. These are the same concerns that have dogged Hillary and Bill Clinton throughout their government careers: that there is one set of rules for the little people and effectively no rules for the Clintons. From the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act to deregulating derivatives to destabilizing Libya, they break a lot of stuff then walk away, leaving the U.S. taxpayer to clean up the mess. And in the process, they become worth over $100 million – a significant part of which comes from speaking fees from the very Wall Street firms that benefited from Bill Clinton’s mass financial deregulation.
Hillary Clinton’s current lead in the Democratic primary is just as deeply a crisis as Donald Trump’s lead is in the Republican primary. This is what years of tolerating voting for the lesser evil has delivered voters in the United States. The leader in the Democratic primary for U.S. President is under a criminal investigation while the Republican leader is being called a fraud and a con man by his own party. The New York Times editorial board on Tuesday called Trump “a shady, bombastic liar” while the Los Angeles Times editorial board wrote yesterday that Trump is “not fit” to be President, calling him “a racist and a bully, a demagogue,” while noting that “He has proposed killing the families of terrorists, a violation of international law so blatant that a former CIA director predicted that U.S. troops would refuse to carry out such an order.”
But no one should view Hillary Clinton as the lesser evil. At this point we don’t know the full range of the FBI’s criminal investigation. Should Hillary become the nominee at the Democratic National Convention in July and then be charged by the FBI before the November election, potentially throwing the election to Trump, that could well render her the greater evil.
This is not a political season to take casually.