With Clinton's Private Server, 'Didn't Break Laws' Doesn't Mean 'Kept Top Secret Emails Safe'

Clinton might have had the legal right to own a private server and unilaterally delete over 30,000 emails, but whether or not the "Top Secret" and "born classified emails" (emails classified from the start, not retroactively) are in the hands of a foreign government is another story.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

One can abide by the law and simultaneously behave in an immoral or unwise manner. For example, it's illegal to wrestle a bear in Alabama; the foolish act was legal before 2006. In 1985, it was legal to drink and drive in 26 states. Similarly, Americans who defend Hillary Clinton's need to own a personal server as Secretary of State focus solely on the legality of such behavior. Absent from any critical thinking involved is the unprecedented act of owning a private server as a government official.

Ultimately, Clinton might have had the legal right to own a private server and unilaterally delete over 30,000 emails, but whether or not the "Top Secret" and "born classified emails" (emails classified from the start, not retroactively) are in the hands of a foreign government is another story. Yes, Clinton's emails had "Top Secret" and classified data, and many believe this intelligence should never have been on a private server; regardless of the legality of such behavior.

Wired already deemed Clinton's email setup a vulnerable "Security Fail," therefore there exist legitimate concerns about how safe a private server is compared to a government server.

I can hear the indignation from some people as I write the words, but "legal right" and "no evidence of a leak" doesn't mean "Clinton's email server was safer than a government server." Risky behavior is sometimes legal (there's no ban on texting while driving in Arizona), but the consequences of such behavior might not always amount to legal repercussions, which is why the FBI now has possession of Clinton's email server and thumb drive. Nobody wants nuclear launch codes on President Donald Trump's private server while he downloads files from last season's The Apprentice.

Since I never swore an oath of loyalty to Hillary Clinton, and since CNN reports that 57 percent of Americans find Clinton "not honest and trustworthy" (Yahoo writes that "More Americans distrust Hillary Clinton than trust her"), it's important to see beyond vapid excuses and conspiracy theories. Furthermore, Democrats already have a candidate in Bernie Sanders who can win the Democratic nomination and general election (just look at Bernie's polling trajectory and Hillary's plummeting favorability ratings). Sanders can win and beat any GOP challenger without scandal, therefore why would Democrats choose a person embroiled in what James Carville refers to as a surreal "witch hunt"?

Honest critique of Clinton shouldn't be met with the accusation, "You sound like a Republican!"

Therefore, below are 10 questions that need to be addressed before America puts this latest email controversy to rest. Once these questions are answered, the email saga will end.

1.Why did Clinton need a private server in the first place and was there a political motive?

Thus far, owning a private server hasn't been very "convenient."

So, was there political utility in ensuring that fellow State Department colleagues or other government employees didn't have access to Clinton's emails?

Yes, it was legal to do so and yes, Republicans have used private emails (but not a private server). But I don't live my life based on what Republicans do and neither should our next president.

Until people know the true reasons for acting in such a bizarre manner, swing states will continue to find Clinton untrustworthy.

2.Was Clinton's email server better protected than the U.S. government's server?

This is a simple question.

Freedom of Information Act expert Dan Metcalfe calls Clinton's email defense "laughable." Edward Snowden says it's "ridiculous" to think intelligence wasn't compromised. The FBI is investigating her server and thumb drive. Five U.S. intelligence agencies thus far are involved in this high tech drama.

Therefore, the view expressed by Wired that Clinton's email setup was a "Security Fail" will continue to be the general consensus by skeptics until this question is adequately answered by the Clinton campaign.

3.Is there "Top Secret" or "born classified" data in the 31,830 emails Clinton's team unilaterally deleted?

Imagine if Dick Cheney had deleted over 30,000 emails from a private server? Yes, Republicans deleted emails and this is wrong; the private server issue makes this story unique.

4.Are five U.S. security agencies truly fighting over the definitions of classified information and can all of them be part of a conspiracy?

Hillary Clinton says there is "disagreement between agencies" pertaining to classified data.

Therefore, Americans should know the specifics of this disagreement. According to Vice, the National Security Agency, CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency, Office of Director of National Intelligence and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency are currently investigating Clinton's emails for classified information.

Therefore, which one of these agencies feels Clinton is absolved from sending or receiving classified intelligence?

Thus far, we know that the CIA and National Geospatial Agency agree with one another. Clinton's server housed "highly classified" and "Top Secret" emails according to a New York Times article titled Second Review Says Classified Information Was in Hillary Clinton's Email:

WASHINGTON -- A special intelligence review of two emails that Hillary Rodham Clinton received as secretary of state on her personal account -- including one about North Korea's nuclear weapons program -- has endorsed a finding by the inspector general for the intelligence agencies that the emails contained highly classified information when Mrs. Clinton received them, senior intelligence officials said.

...But the special review -- by the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Geospatial ¬Intelligence Agency -- concluded that the emails were "Top Secret," the highest classification of government intelligence, when they were sent to Mrs. Clinton in 2009 and 2011.

Clinton might claim not to have sent or received classified information, however The New York Times reports that both the CIA and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency reported that her emails contained "highly classified" and "Top Secret" (one regarding North Korea's nuclear program) information.

So, which agencies have the correct definition of "classified" and "Top Secret"? Are the CIA and National Geospatial Agency wrong in their assessment of "Top Secret" and "highly classified" intelligence?

5.Does "legal" mean "Clinton kept Top Secret and Classified intelligence safe"?

Clinton didn't break any laws, but then again, this doesn't mean her server was safe from hackers, necessary, or good for national security.

6.Who gave Bryan Pagliano the security clearance to manage Clinton's email server?

A recent CNN article is titled "Clintons paid State staffer to manage private email server." If Pagliano was paid to manage the server of America's Secretary of State, he too was given access to the server now held by the FBI. Clinton supporters trust Hillary Clinton completely, but do they also trust the person she paid to manage her server?

7.If 100 of Clinton's emails were classified retroactively, why is this not still considered classified information by the Clinton campaign?

The nature of intelligence constantly changes; what is classified tomorrow might not be classified today for various reasons. Therefore, if many emails found in Clinton's server have been retroactively classified, and Reuters claims that many emails were "classified from the start," the issue of classified information at any point in time (found in Clinton's server) becomes relevant.

8.Is Judge Emmet Sullivan correct in stating Clinton's emails violated policy?

Is a U.S. District Judge part of what James Carville calls a surreal "witch hunt"? Is he right to contradict the State Department?

9.Is Classified Information on Google Servers?

This is an issue according to POLITICO.

10.If Clinton can win the presidency with an ongoing FBI investigation pertaining to email protocol (it's doubtful this saga will end before Election Day), then why must a whistleblower named Edward Snowden be forced to live abroad?

If a presidential candidate can have five intelligence agencies scurrying over emails and still win the White House, then the goal post has been moved out into the bleachers pertaining to security threats. Furthermore, there's difficulty in claiming Snowden harmed national security or that he was a traitor.

We're having a national discussion about domestic spying and the Bill of Rights because of Snowden. In contrast, no good has resulted from Clinton's emails.

These are fair questions, not rooted in a conspiracy linked to Rush Limbaugh, and they correlate to simple logic that seems to be missing from the Clinton campaign's defense of the former Secretary of State's email practices. Democrats can't win in 2016 with a candidate battling five intelligence agencies or the FBI as a running mate. Yes, apparently Clinton's email practices were legal, but then again, so was wrestling a bear in Alabama before 2006.

Before You Go

Popular in the Community