Friday, July 1, 2016
HILLARY CLINTON, A COUNTERFEIT SUPERFICIAL PERSONALITY. - BRIAN BROWNE
Hillary Clinton’s words profess compassion. Her long resume pretends competence. Her deeds are the problem. Her accomplishments are more hollow than she would rather they be. This relegates her to argue the mere holding of office is sufficient accomplishment regardless of what occurred while there.
Because she has been around so long and has held many posts, we have been induced to believe her and believe in her. Yet, to believe in her is to believe she is what she is not. Secretary of State was the last major office she held. She turned the State Department into a place of erroneous policy as in Libya, Syrian and Ukraine. She treated the august department as her personal fiefdom. She proved to be a sly manager who mishandled sensitive public resources as if they were her own and treated the public trust as if nonexistent.
While Trump is a daylight assault with an axe, Clinton is a nocturnal bacillus whose attack comes subtly from within while our defenses are down and slumbering.
Hillary Clinton’s run for office has now become a moral dilemma for her allies. One cannot back her yet support good governance and the rule of law at the same time. In clinching the Democratic Party nomination, Clinton has achieved two firsts. She is the first woman to clinch the nomination of one of the two major parties. That a woman has done so is long overdue. That it is Clinton will be recorded as one of America’s bittersweet occurrences. It is to bestow a true honor on one of the most counterfeit personalities of this or any era.
She is also the first presidential candidate of any major party to enter the election race under criminal investigation for serious breaches of national security. As to which ‘’first’’ will history lay her greater remembrance looms as an open question.
For those unversed in diplomacy and national security matters, the storm about her use of a private email account and server seems unintelligible or petty. For those knowledgeable about American national security matters, what she did is of utmost seriousness; it was criminal in nature and should disqualify her for office. It reveals a frightening disdain for the rule of law and the intelligence of the people, both warning signs that democratic good governance may not be Clinton’s strong suit. I consider myself in this latter group.
This is important to all. If she can be so callous regarding the nation and the constitution she professes to love, grave dangers lurk for those nations that win her ire. Remember Clinton publicly joked about how Qaddafi was tortured and killed as if sodomizing then illegally executing an opposing leader is the stuff of jokes instead of the crime that it was. Such dark levity is unbefitting a world leader. In Libya, she pushed the Obama Administration to work in concert with regional terrorists to upend a secular leader who had long ago ceased being a threat to any measurable American interests. She championed this avenue more as a function of pique than of sage policy. After witnessing and joking about the destruction she, Clinton turned her back and left that nation to rot and ruin. If indicative of her purported competence, then we are in palpable trouble for the Libyan caper is a picture book example of foreign policy by guttural impulse.
Clinton has never encountered a war she did not like yet she has proven to be a truant housekeeper after the damage has been wrought. She has thirsted for every American war in the past twenty years. If she had her way, what happened in Libya would have repeated itself in Syria. Judging by her published emails, she pines for an excuse to war against Iran. Russian and American military might would be in nose-to-nose proximity on the steppes of the Ukraine due to her lack of geopolitical prudence and blind arrogance. A Clinton presidency is like to cart the world closer to a major war of untold consequence.
Because of the leadership and personality flaws the scandal reveals, perhaps a bit of explanation about the national security and legal implications underlying her email scandal may help the reader understand the gravity of Clinton’s derelictions. For this is not an artificial fuzz over the sloppy handling of inconsequential emails such as what friends exchange between themselves. This concerns the wanton and perhaps willful misuse of emails that contained some the nation’s most closely guarded national security considerations.
As Secretary of State, her official communications belong to the people and to the United States government, not to her. They were meant to be restricted to encrypted official channels for archival purposes and, more importantly, to safeguard information from foreign snooping. The use of a private server trashed both goals.
Clinton acted as if her want to control access to her official communications was of greater weight than the true ownership rights and national security concerns of the government that employed her. She acted as if the government was her agent and servant instead of the other way around. In treating sensitive government documents and work product as belonging exclusively to her, she behaved imperiously, like spoiled royalty doing the nation a favor rather than a citizen grateful for the privilege to serve her country. The lack of character which she has exhibited in the matter is revealed in a quick examination of the claims she has made to dance around her culpability.
Claim 1: The State Department approved the private setup. This claim has proven bogus. In an official report, the Department claimed it never was asked to approve the private server and if so would not have done so. Clinton lied.
Claim 2: Her private arrangement was consistent with those of her predecessors. The only other Secretary to use a private email account was Colin Powell. However, he never contemplated a private server and did not exclusively use the private email account for official business. He also had the imprimatur of the Department for his limited use of private email. His rather limited official use of that account came during a completely different era regarding the use of emails for government business. At that time, the Department did not have an unclassified email system as during Clinton’s tenure. Again, she lied.
Claim 3: The private server and account were done merely for convenience purposes.She did not want to have to constantly flip between a government and a private system. This does not wash. If she did not want to operate two systems, the wisest route would have been to opt for the government device solely.
For instance, she was prohibited from using her private device in her office because that office was considered highly classified space. Whenever she wanted to deal with emails during office hours, she had to leave her office suite. Thus, we are left with the incongruous sight of the Secretary walking about the building, followed by security and other officers, as she went to another room or floor to treat emails. This might have happened several times a day. This does not seem convenient. It does not even make sense. A government devise usable in the comfort of her office and at home would have been inherently easier and wiser.
Her staff even refused Department attempts to give her a government-issued secured device because they wanted to maintain Clinton’s privacy. The position is as indefensible as it is corrupt. She has no privacy right to hide official communications from the very government that employed her to handle those communications.
Even if she opted for the private route, convenience would have pointed to only the creation of a private account. Setting up a private server in her residence is actually significant extra work. There is only one plausible reason to resort to a private server: to control access to the material, in effect obscuring from government what belonged only to it. On this point, either she lied or her judgment is so obtuse that she should not be trusted again with high public office.
Claim 4: The server was secure because armed Secret Service men guarded the residence. Having an armed guard standing on the porch might prevent a physical assault against the location. Yet, it is beyond explanation how a gun at the front door deters a computer hacker who can accomplish his theft from the other side of the planet. A gun at the porch was no more a defense to hacking the infernal machine than putting an oar in the car helps a person drive cross a bridge over a wide river.
Sadly, her personal server was extremely vulnerable. Her network lacked encryption. For a brief period, it lacked even the firewall and other lower-level security features employed by medium and small private businesses that do not handle sensitive documents. Establishing her server in order to avoid government retention of her records seemed to be her sole concern. Her obligation to safeguard important information was treated as a damnable nuisance. Again, she has lied or exposed herself as a supreme dunce.
Claim 5: No wrong was committed because no document was marked classified. This is as disingenuous as an argument can get. When she became Secretary she underwent training about classified information. She signed a formal oath that classified information could be marked or unmarked and that the mishandling of such is a criminal violation. She went into the job with eyes open. She cannot now profess a dumb blindness.
What makes information classified are not the markings but the content. Documents are not classified just because they are marked so. They are marked so because they are classified. The classification arises from their substance. The markers just acknowledge what already exists.
Over 1000 emails she returned have been found to be classified. Refuting her claim that the documents were “retroactively classified,” there is no reasonable explanation that can be offered how such documents would be classified now but were not when initially transmitted. Sensitivity of a message generally moves in inverse relationship to the passage of time. The older the message, the less sensitive. For her to argue the emails were not then classified but now are lacks credence. She knows better than to make this argument but she makes it anyway.
Claim 6: She is innocent because she bore no criminal intent. Neither fact nor law gives her succor. Under the several applicable criminal statutes, she can be held feloniously liable for the wrongful and willful transmission of classified material or for being grossly negligent in the handling and storage of the same. There is ample intent of willful violations. Roughly 20 emails have a classification of top secret or higher and over 60 as secret. Unless all of these 20 documents fit into a mitigating narrow exception that grave emergency dictated the use of the unclassified system, then at least two people committed a crime, the sender and serial receiver thereof, the latter being Clinton.
The sender would have to deliberately transfer information from a secured device to put on Clinton’s unsecured private network. Such a deliberate trespass has almost no defense and is clearly punishable. Clinton would have known this criminal process was being done for her benefit if not at her explicit behest. She condoned the misdeed over the course of her tenure. This is an intentional breach of national security, a felony. The penalty for this is a fine or up to 10 years imprisonment for each violation.
She also kept these emails on her unsecure private server for several years. By any objective legal measure, this would have to constitute the grossly negligent storage of classified material. To compound this, she placed the material on an unsecure thumb drive which is another violation. She then gave the server and thumb drive to her attorney who lacked any security clearance. This comprises another set of violations. Worse, it seems that she also used two companies to monitor her server. These companies had no clearance, another set of violations. One of the companies made back-up copies of the emails and stored them in an unsecured location, two more sets of violations. Keep in mind that every email, ranging from the 20 top secret to the over 1000 classified, is a distinct violation that carries a potential prison term of 10 years. You can figure the potential maximum time behind bars. My calculator does not count that high.
If America seeks to continue to portray itself before the world as the land of the rule of law, then it must apply the law fairly and equally even against its most favored and privileged citizens. The Clinton national security scandal will test the legal system in an open and blatant way. If she is allowed to walk, penalty free from her misconduct, then you should realize that the American legal system is an object of barter and that justice is considered a rare but not a valuable commodity. Already the major media outlets have been found out. They downplay the scandal because they work for the same big money, vast military establishment that brings us the Clintons. If Clinton is called to answer for what she has done, perhaps just perhaps the United States would have taken an important step in reasserting the destiny its noble documents and republican doctrines claim for the nation. Next week, we explore how all of this may undermine President Obama’s legacy if he fails to exercise judgment.