Two Points About the Hillary Clinton Email Fiasco

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 Reprinted from Bracing Views with the author’s permission.

6 thoughts on “Two Points About the Hillary Clinton Email Fiasco”

    1. Yes, interesting that the one criticism of Hillary Clinton that seems to be attracting the most attention is that she didn’t follow the rules.

      1. No. Everyone agrees that by illegally using a private server for government (“the peoples”) business she didn’t follow the “rules” with respect to data retention, and FOIA, (She even said she was “sorry”.) In the course of that action she broke security LAWS and compounded that by obstruction of justice by deleting emails, and destroying mobile devices with hammers. NIXON WAS IMPEACHED FOR LESS.

        BTW, on his way out the White House door, Bill Clinton pardoned J. M Deutch who was being prosecuted for keeping classified information on his personal laptop – far less serious than having it on a public facing email server.

        1. The hypocrisy of the situation is indeed breathtaking, but as the blog post tried to point out, the “rules” in this case are really about keeping secrets from the people the government only pretends to serve. The rules are only about data retention and the FOIA to the minimum degree needed to present a patina of legitimacy to the ruled.

          Hillary Clinton should be in jail for orchestrating the destruction of Libya among many other crimes, not running a home e-mail server. That’s like impeaching Bill Clinton for lying about an extra-marital affair. It wildly misses the forest for the trees, and ultimately throws the game to the rule makers.

  1. I’m obviously not a hillary supporter. But let’s hear the same complaints about all the republicans during GW Bush administration who did the same thing. Not to mention millions of emails that went through the RNC and were destroyed. Check your double standards, please.

    1. Powell had a STATE.GOV account for government business as did Rice. HRC never even set up a GOV account preferring to illegaly do ALL business on a private server – away from FOIA requests. When it came to light she deleted emails rather than subject them to review as called for by Records Law and in the face of investigation. IT IS AS IF NIXON ERASED ALL HIS TAPES rather than turn them over to Congress.

      As for the RNC, they are probably no more moral than the DNC, but they were not able to cheat Trump (the anti-establishment Republican) the way the DNC cheated Bernie Sanders. They also have no where near the collusion with corporate media that the DNC, and the HRC campaign does, as shown in the wikileaks emails.

      The “they all do it” excuse doesn’t hold in this case.

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