Much is being made of Hillary Clinton’s private email server, which she used when she was Secretary of State. To me, the real issue is not that Hillary endangered national security by sending classified information in the clear. No – the real issue is that the Clintons act as if they are above the rules and laws that apply to “the little people.” They are superior and smug, totally devoted to themselves and their pursuit of power and the privileges that come with it. It’s a matter of character, in other words. Hillary’s evasiveness, her lack of transparency, her self-righteousness, her strong sense of her own rectitude, make her a dangerous candidate for the presidency.
My second point is this: The issue of classification should be turned on its head. The real issue is not that Hillary potentially revealed secrets. No – the real issue is that our government keeps far too much from us. Our government uses security classification not so much to keep us safe, but to keep the national security state safe – safe from the eyes of the American people.
As The Guardian reported in 2013:
“A committee established by Congress, the Public Interest Declassification Board, warned in December that rampant over-classification is ‘imped[ing] informed government decisions and an informed public’ and, worse, ‘enabl[ing] corruption and malfeasance’. In one instance it documented, a government agency was found to be classifying one petabyte of new data every 18 months, the equivalent of 20m filing cabinets filled with text.”
Nowadays, seemingly everything is classified. And if it’s classified, if it’s secret, we can’t know about it. Because we can’t be trusted with it. That’s a fine idea for an autocracy or dictatorship, but not so fine for a democracy.
Government of the people, by the people, for the people? Impossible when nearly everything of any importance is classified.
Too bad Hillary didn’t send everything in the clear – what a service she would have done for the American people and for democracy!
William J. Astore is a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF). He taught history for fifteen years at military and civilian schools and blogs at Bracing Views. He can be reached at email@example.com. Reprinted from Bracing Views with the author’s permission.