Hamilton: Hillary’s server: What difference does it make?
The decision by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to use her own non-secure, email server for the transmission of her email traffic while Secretary of State rather than use the official, encrypted Department of State email system may come back to haunt her.
Initially, Mrs. Clinton said none of her email traffic dealt with classified information. Most recently, Mrs. Clinton says if her email traffic did deal with classified information, then she was not aware that it was classified information.
But, on July 24, The New York Times reported, “Government investigators said Friday that they had discovered classified information on the private email account that Hillary Rodham Clinton used while secretary of state, stating unequivocally that those secrets never should have been stored outside of secure government computer systems.” On July 31, State Department officials announced the discovery of 41 classified Clinton emails and they are still counting.
Recall that TOP SECRET is information the unauthorized disclosure of which could be expected to cause “exceptionally grave damage” to national security. SECRET is information the unauthorized disclosure of which could be expected to cause “serious damage” to national security. The loss of CONFIDENTIAL information could be expected to cause “damage” to national security. In addition, almost all Department of State message traffic is marked: NOFORN, meaning the information is not to be released to nor discussed with foreign nationals; however, exceptions are sometimes made for allies. For example: SECRET NOFORN, except UK.
We leave it to readers to decide if any Secretary of State could conduct the business of her or his high office via email without a certain volume of highly classified or at least NOFORN information being involved. But, while deciding take into account this next fact: On December 29, 2009, President Obama signed Executive Order 13527, subject: Original Classification Authority. That Executive Order gave then-Secretary Clinton and 28 Executive Branch Department or Agency heads the authority to decide which information in their possession should be classified TOP SECRET or SECRET.
If you are doing State Department business via your own non-secure email server with as many as 28 other Departments or Agencies all of which have Original Classification Authority, what are the Las Vegas odds that you won’t be receiving from them some TOP SECRET, SECRET, or CONFIDENTIAL emails? What are the odds that the Russians, the Iranians, the Red Chinese, or even Edward Snowden have not been reading your non-secured emails in real time? Could that be why the U.S. suffered an almost unmitigated string of foreign-policy disasters? Again, you decide.
Meanwhile, none of these national security concerns are likely to resonate negatively with Mrs. Clinton’s core base of: Labor Unions, African-Americans, gays, Latinos, Environmentalists, Parlor Pinks, and single women, pro-choice, Planned Parenthood Feminists. As long as Mrs. Clinton’s poll numbers do not sink below 39 percent, political pundit Dick Morris thinks Mrs. Bill Clinton is still likely to be the Democrat’s presidential nominee.
But, if Mrs. Bill Clinton sinks below 39 percent, look for Vice President Biden and, perhaps, some prominent Democrat governors or senators to vie for the Democratic presidential nomination. Then, of course, there is still Benghazi and the desire of the defense and intelligence community to know how and why Benghazi went so horribly wrong.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame, and is a recipient of the University of Nebraska 2015 Alumni Achievement Award. He was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.
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