Like so many political scandals, the Hillary Clinton e-mail mess has multiple benefits even as it reveals the scabrous underside of the American political culture. Prime among the benefits is that it provides a useful test of who is trustworthy and perceptive, and who is untrustworthy due to an excess of bias, partisan fervor, warped values or just mush-for-brains.
The stunningly cynical and dishonest statement by Clinton communications chief Jennifer Palmieri, dissected in Part One, revealed that the Clinton machine really does have zero respect for the intellect of the American public, that the Clintons still believe that you can lie your way out of anything (even if the lies make no sense), and that a lack of ethics really does eat away at gray matter.
Look: every week, sometimes three times a week, I harangue lawyers about how they are ethically obligated to take careful measures to protect proprietary client information that is stored or communicated through electronic means. They immediately comprehend how it is essential, especially government lawyers. Why? Because the government is the most vulnerable of clients, among those who can be most hurt by careless information technology, and is ahead of much of industry and the private sector in developing policies and methods of keeping information as secure as possible. Hillary Clinton’s casual lies about how her “home-brewed” server was no big deal is literally stunning to these lawyers, because they know that no high ranking government official is as cavalier about official e-mails as Clinton’s repeated statements would suggest she was. As is a pattern among Democrats during the Obama administration, Clinton’s dissembling is designed to fool the ignorant, because the ignorant are many and useful. It is based on the assumption that nobody, certainly not the news media, will enlighten them sufficiently to understand the magnitude of what Clinton did, and the breathtaking audacity of her lies.
The major news organizations are publicizing this story as little as possible. Only Fox thinks it is important, apparently. This is one more example of why objective, truth-seeking liberals should be grateful for Fox.
The Obama administration, contrary to what Clinton’s “this is nonsense” lie would suggest, has prosecuted individuals under the Espionage Act of 1917 for improperly handling classified information more than all previous administrations combined. This is to be expected and and is appropriate, because technology makes it easier to steal secrets than ever before. Some prosecutions may have been over-zealous: NSA whistleblower Tom Drake had his career destroyed when the Department of Justice determined that he mishandled classified information exactly like the documents Clinton’s deceitful excuses argue were safely sent and received on a private server: information that was not formally classified at the time but later determined to be. Less than two weeks ago, Glenn Greenwald notes, “a Naval reservist was convicted and sentenced for mishandling classified military materials despite no evidence he intended to distribute them. Last year, a Naval officer was convicted of mishandling classified information also in the absence of any intent to distribute it.” What Clinton did was deliberate and, as Secretary of State, far more reckless and indefensible than these and other examples during her tenure of which she was well aware.
How do we know that? We know that because she made statements like this:
“I think that in an age where so much information is flying through cyberspace, we all have to be aware of the fact that some information which is sensitive, which does affect the security of individuals and relationships, deserves to be protected and we will continue to take necessary steps to do so.”
She said this knowing as she spoke that she had secretly installed a non-government server and was using it to receive classified and even top-secret information.
It is not just the hypocrisy that is staggering, but the incompetence, recklessness and stupidity. The AP reported, “There is no evidence she used encryption to shield the emails or her personal server from foreign intelligence services or other potentially prying eyes.” By Clinton’s own stated standards, as well as those of the Justice Department, the State Department, the Defense Department and Clinton’s own profession, which is demanding that lawyer take every precaution to protect the secrets of their clients, this is not just a big deal, but an existential deal….and Hillary Clinton knows it.
Yet she has corrupted, intimidated or lobotomized her allies and supporters to the extent that they continue to mouth her lies that what she did just isn’t important, even though, as Greenwald angrily notes, when “low-level government employees with no power” do it, they are punished severely. (Greenwald, recall, has championed the treasonous exposure of secrets by Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, and doesn’t think they should be punished. He is wrong.)
I just heard Geraldo Rivera on Fox call this “the most overblown” news story he can remember. To do this, he is adopting the irresponsible ‘it’s just digital mismanagement, hey, who doesn’t get confused with this stuff?’ rationalization endorsed by Slate writer Jamelle Bouie. It is ignorant and misleading, designed to let Clinton escape accountability and to confuse the public.
Even Clinton’s supposed rivals for the Presidential nomination are abetting this strategy. Bernie Sanders, an alleged champion of the common man whom one would think would find flaw with a potential President who intentionally breaks the same rules she saw less connected government employees prosecuted for, but no. Bernie doesn’t think fairness, honesty, competence, security, equity and transparency matter, at least not sufficiently to point out that his adversary lacks all of them, by the evidence of this affair. Clinton has seemingly corrupted the field so it has adopted the successful diversion used by her husband during Monica Madness, the repeated mantra that all these character and honesty controversies are distractions, and that only policy matters or should matter to the country and the public. This is Bouie’s argument. It is also Democratic nomination-seeker Martin O’Malley’s, who told MSNBC:
“I think it underscores why we need to have conversations and need to start having our debate within the Democratic Party about the ideas that will actually create jobs, get incomes to go up, make our country safer. All this stuff about the email server and the top secret emails, all of this — these are not the ideas that excite the electorate. These are not the ideas that spark the imagination of the American people or allow them to see their own family’s future in the solutions and the ideas and the broader story that we have to offer as a party.”
This is completely ethically bankrupt, and alarmingly so. This principle-free analysis begins from the gutter philosophy of Clinton operative Paul Begala, who memorably said, “Voters do not give a shit. They do not even give a fart… Find me one persuadable voter who agrees with HRC on the issues but will vote against her because she has a non-archival-compliant email system and I’ll kiss your ass in Macy’s window and say it smells like roses.” This was the Watergate strategy of the Nixon gang too. Voters don’t care, and what voters don’t care about can’t be wrong even if they should care. So make sure they don’t care, and we can do what we want. It didn’t work then, but sometimes it does.
But what does it tell us when an aspiring leader and a political party think such a cynical strategy should be attempted?
Every day, new jaw-dropping information comes out indicating that Clinton treated sensitive communications—like, say, communications to and from the Secretary of State, who was…oh! HER!—at risk by using a private system and and apparently trying to hide the fact. Among today’s revelations, for example:
“Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton entrusted her email server to an IT firm that was not cleared to handle classified materials, according to the chief spokesman for the Defense Security Service.The DSS is an arm of the Defense Department and is the only federal agency authorized to approve private sector company access to sensitive or confidential material. The agency reviews and approves private contractors to assure they have secure facilities and approves security clearances for employees to clear them for access to sensitive or classified materials.”
Now why would she do this? Isn’t it at best reckless and irresponsible, and at worst suspicious? Clinton paid liar Lanny Davis, who is to Clinton Corruption what a sneeze is to spreading a plague, has said, “They’re ignoring what the inspector general said, which is that there was not one single accusation of wrongdoing alleged against Hillary Clinton and her use of email.” This, of course, is a lie unless one’s definition of “wrongdoing” is “Clearly and intentionally violating the law.” Is there any question at all that using a non-compliant IT company was wrong?
Is lying wrong? One of the main ways the Clintons and their Democratic Party and journalism enablers know they must corrupt the nation is to make the public accept lying…serial lying, in Hillary’s case…by leaders as inconsequential except as politically dangerous or inept. Here is the the LA Times editorializing, for example. In many ways it concedes real wrongdoing—not what Lanny Davis would call wrongdoing, but he doesn’t think lying to the public for pay is wrongdoing—but its only concern is evidently that her conduct made Clinton vulnerable to partisan criticism! The framing of the issue is designed to make a gullible reader think, “Oh, so this is just politics. Nothing to be concerned about.” In other words, to corrupt and confuse:
Hillary Rodham Clinton’s decision to use a private email server to transact official business as secretary of State was a serious mistake — even if it didn’t violate the law and even if the vast majority of her official communications were preserved on the government accounts of the people she was communicating with. Using a private account was bad policy and, with the server back in the headlines this week, it is proving to be bad politics as well.
We get a rationalization first: The Compliance Dodge. No law was broken….except the unstated fact that the FBI, which only gets into matters where laws might have been broken, thinks otherwise.
Then we get a minimizing of the vital importance of handling sensitive information carefully and responsibly, which Clinton had acknowledged in the past.
The fact that “vast majority” is pro-Clinton spinning. Why don’t we accept a Secret Service defense that the “vast majority” of threats to the President don’t breach security? Clinton was changed with protecting all communications, not “the vast majority.”
“Clinton has compounded her original error with an overly controlling response to inquiries about what was contained in those messages. Her presidential campaign is paying a predictable price in public confidence for that strategy.”
The “strategy” is called lying one’s fool head off, for months. All the editors care about is that this is “overly controlling,” a euphemism. Should potential Presidents lie all the time? Apparently as long as it doesn’t hurt in the polls.
…investigators concluded some messages should have been marked and handled as classified. The server should have been turned over long ago. That said, it’s not clear that additional emails might be retrieved. When Clinton turned over more than 30,000 emails to the department in December, she said that she had deleted an equal number that were personal, including messages about the planning of her daughter’s wedding and her mother’s funeral. The problem was that it was Clinton who decided which emails would be preserved and handed over, an arrangement that Republicans (and others) were bound to see as suspicious.
Bound to see as suspicious? Why doesn’t the LA Times see it as suspicious? Why don’t they explain to their readers why it is suspicious? No, it’s only those mean Republicans who are saying it is suspicious.
“Equally unsurprising, Republicans are rushing to judgment about the latest developments in the controversy. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) asserted that “Secretary Clinton’s previous statements that she possessed no classified information were patently untrue,” and he demanded an investigation of her “mishandling of classified information.”
What Boehner said, dozens of less corrupt sources than the LA Times have concluded, is accurate. Clinton undeniably mishandled classified information, indeed top secret information. Again, all the editorial’s focus is on the partisan dispute and the scandal’s political impact. The intent is to signal that one only has to take sides by partisan preference, not that the conduct being described and the character of the individual responsible are not a partisan issues, but factual and ethical.
“In fact, it hasn’t been established that Clinton sent or received emails containing information that was marked classified or top secret. As the Clinton campaign pointed out Wednesday, when previously unclassified information is reviewed for public release, it is sometimes classified retroactively. Unfortunately, such nuances are likely to be lost in the heat of a presidential campaign.”
As I explained in Part I, the Times is endorsing deceit along with the circular argument Clinton has been using. If Clinton had not wrongfully, incompetently, and recklessly handled her communications through the private server, the information would have been classified. She is using the wrongdoing itself to excuse the results of the wrongdoing, and the Times (and others), are reporting this absurdity as if it makes sense. But this—“…such nuances are likely to be lost in the heat of a presidential campaign”-–made my head explode. These “nuances” are Clintonisms, like “I did not have sex with that woman.” There the “nuance” was that Bill Clinton was using a narrow definition of sex that excluded oral sex in order to mislead. The circular argument that the classified information wasn’t classified yet (because Clinton’s mishandling of it prevented timely classification) isn’t a nuance. It’s deception. Clinton-style.
Reason just did a useful compendium of Clinton’s lies in this matter. Read it.
This is simple, really. Do we accept blatant lying from our leaders? Does lying matter? Can a democracy function properly if the public cannot trust its leader to tell the truth?
Reason’s Peter Suderman obviously answers these questions “No, we shouldn’t;” “Yes, a lot;” and “No.” Hillary and Hillary enabling Democrats, progressives, feminists and journalists are working hard to convince you the answers should be..
…Sure, if their ideas are exciting.
…No, not if its a Democrat, progressive, or feminists who is doing the lying, and…
…Sure. A democracy is functioning well if the things we want to be done are done..
To do that, they have to corrupt you.
UPDATE (8/15)–Ethics Alarms wants to sincerely than Hillary Clinton, who was kind enough to validate every word of this post by really and truly uttering this garbage in Iowa yesterday:
“It’s not about Benghazi. And you know what, it’s not about e-mails or servers either. It’s about politics. I won’t get down in the mud with them. I won’t play politics with national security or dishonor the memory of those we lost. I won’t pretend this is anything other than what it is: the same old partisan games we’ve seen so many times before. I don’t care how many super PACs and Republicans pile on. I’ve been fighting for families and underdogs my entire life and I’m not going to stop now.”
Wow. If I had wanted to write a hypothetical Hillary statement to illustrate the analysis in this post, I could not have done better.
Sources:Reason, First Look, Washington Times, Daily Caller, LA Times
31 thoughts on “The Clinton E-Mail Scandal, Part Two: The Corrupter, The Corrupt And The Corrupted”
I quit reading the LA Times for this very reason. They did have a good political cartoonist for awhile Michael Ramírez, but he’s gone to townhall.com Maybe they should hire Geraldo to write a column for them. He would fit in nicely.
Really? This is typical? Because it’s embarrassing and sinister.
I’d love it if Geraldo were deemed unhireable and I never had to see or hear him again. I suppose that adds to his charm for networks. Like Trump no one has a neutral reaction to Geraldo, or Hillary, or Obama. Ethics corrupters all.
I’ve had to re-evaluate my blog and news site reading since Trump came along. The number of conservatives who defend him is sickening.
I suppose that’s a small example of what Hillary’s defenders/enablers experience. Except, I now know who to quit trusting and I will. They just can’t seem to.
She’s still a better choice than Jeb Bush or any of the qualified republican candidates.
Yeah, I’m still reeling from that.
Wait, who said THAT? I just assumed Tex was having an episode.
One of my “episodes”?
No you’re right. It is a lot like watching an episode…
… Of the Twilight Zone.
We all have “episodes.”
I must have been way too vague. It was a reference to a choice made by the esteemed representative of self-deluded Leftopia.
That link doesn’t work, are you referring to the choice I gave Charles in part 1?
Ah dang it! I wonder how I miffed the formatting.
Good catch and yes, your choice given to charles…I’m usually a religious re-reader of my own posts to criticize my misspellings, poor grammar and poor formatting…ugh, but not that time.
Here’s the fixed link charles’ choice
Bernie Sanders isn’t pressing Clinton on this one because he’s not in it to win it. He’s in it to force Hillary to lean more left of center. By being openly socialist, he puts pressure on Clinton to be more socialist as well in order to appeal to her progressive base, as opposed to trying to be centrist in order to appeal to swing voters.
Bernie wants a progressive in the White House, and Clinton’s his only hope this round, so he’s not going to do anything to sabotage her campaign. Even though he could (he’s got the moral high ground compared to Hillary) and even though he should (is it worth supporting a liar and a hypocrite to get a “progressive” president? I don’t think so), he won’t.
But Hillary isn’t really a progressive. She’s a Machiavellian…she’d be anything at all to hold power and make money. If he wants a progressive, he would help knock out Hillary and force Sen. Warren—ACK!!! GAG!!!—-to run.
She’s a Machiavellian who leans a little more to the left than the right. For most liberals, she’s too moderate, but we’ll still vote for her in the main election over a Republican who will push for policy positions that we are against. I don’t care if (for e.g.) Rand Paul gets elected Eagle Scout Emeritus or something along those lines. I cannot vote for someone who I think will lead the country in the wrong direction. I would rather vote for a Borgia who will lead (or at least nudge) the country in the right direction.
And, at the end of the day, Republicans feel the same way. They aren’t going to vote for Bernie Sanders or Jimmy Carter even if they are running against Trump.
This is how Hitler came to power, of course. Hillary isn’t Hitler, but it’s true nonetheless. Ignore the fact that leaders must be ethical, and you are playing Russian Roullette (I know, this mixing cultural metaphors.) The fact that intelligent, rational people like you sill still risk putting her in power is why she cannot be permitted to get the nomination.
This is how Hitler came to power, of course. Hillary isn’t Hitler, but it’s true nonetheless. Ignore the fact that leaders must be ethical, and you are playing Russian Roullette (I know, this is criminally mixing cultural metaphors, but I haven’t had any coffee…) The fact that intelligent, rational people like you sill still risk putting her in power is why she cannot be permitted to get the nomination.
I just based a whole post on this comment. I hope you don’t mind—I assume not. It’s a compliment, really. Also Charles won’t feel alone…
1) comparing Hillary to Trump, polls (which are temporary and transient) aside, is nonsense. Hillary IS a good representation of mainstream Democrat ideals. Trump is not the same for republicans. His appeal is purely his aggressiveness. His “ideas” are just spouting buzz words.
2) nonsense comparison for selection. I’d pick pre-election Carter any day over Trump.
This nonsense of course is the inevitable result of a culture that increasingly sees the Chief Executive as just a Prime Legislator or really just an older brother law maker.
It doesn’t help either that so much power and authority has been legislated away from Congress into the hands of President either…
From a CNN report on an HRC speech in Iowa:
-Clinton also addressed the controversy surrounding her use of a personal email address on a private server during her tenure as secretary of state, joking with the friendly crowd that she likes the popular picture messaging app Snapchat: “All those messages disappear all by themselves.”
Brazen or idiotic. Not sure which.
Well the arrogant side of Hillary and “the rules don’t apply to special people like myself” rears it’s ugly head again. She well probably go down defiant to the last and possibly write another book with the same old mantras and lies “vast right wing conspiracy”, “everybody in government has a private server” ad nausea.
Two things: 1) Any competent I.T. Security guy can recover those e-mails she deleted, if all she did was delete them (note that there are some extraordinary measures that can be taken to prevent them or anything else from being recovered) and 2) the American public is as ignorant about computers, iPads, cell phones etc. and how they work as they are about nuclear physics. This includes the members of the various committees that are investigating her and her e-mails. Not only are they ignorant, but they are arrogant in their ignorance, preferring to defer to people that they hire to do the actual investigating. If Hillary actually wanted a defense (she actually doesn’t; she doesn’t actually care), this would be the one she should use: “I did not know enough about it to do it right”, because people can relate to that. She is dropping in the polls not because people don’t trust her but because they can’t identify with her. She is being too arrogantly know-it-all.
The issue of classified stuff in Hillary Clinton’s personal mail has some subtle twists because there are several types of email involved.
First of all, everyone’s on the public internet. The servers may be in some government data center, but they can communicate by regular email like everyone else. (E.g. If you’re a citizen and you have some questions about services provided by the U.S. embassy in Kuala Lumpur, send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.) This is basically the government equivalent of corporate email, and you can access it from your desk at work, your computer at home, your laptop, and your smartphone. It’s not intended for classified information.
Then there are the classified networks. SIPRnet, for example, is a whole separate high-security internet that is isolated from the public internet. In order to send and receive classified SIPRnet traffic, you have to be at a SIPRnet endpoint, which is typically a dedicated computer locked in a secure facility. I understand there are some specialized mobile devices available, but you can’t just access SIPRnet on a consumer smartphone. So when you see Clinton on her iPhone (or whatever) she’s not reading SIPRnet traffic.
As near as I can tell from news reports, Clinton’s private server was connected to the public internet, and as such it was not approved for classified information and couldn’t connect to a secure network like SIPRnet. I seriously doubt she could receive classified message traffic on it.
So what’s all this about classified stuff in the news? Well, the boundaries around classified information are always kind of leaky. People read classified documents or attend classified meetings, and then they accidentally use some bit of classified information in an unclassified message. Or, in places like the State Department, they my directly observe and report something that’s later classified, leaving unclassified version of it floating around the unclassified net. And sometimes people cut corners and find a way to copy some data between the networks because it makes their job easier and it doesn’t seem like a very important secret. (A lot of classified stuff is overclassified or just automatically classified without much thought,)
So Clinton sort of has a point, because this server wasn’t on the classified net, so anything classified on it was because someone — someone other than Clinton herself — sent something they weren’t supposed to.
The problem is, this sort of thing happens all the time, and everyone knows it. There are something like 4 million people with access to Secret messages, so it’s pretty much guaranteed that a steady stream of classified information will always be leaking into the unclassified email system. And when Secretary Clinton decided to receive departmental email on her own private server, she pretty much guaranteed that it too would receive classified information that had leaked over, and Clinton would have known this.
When that happens in the State Department’s own non-secure email network, then at least it’s still on the Department’s internal intranet, which is much better than having it go public. This sort of damage limitation is referred to as defense-in-depth, and it’s part of any good security plan. By running a private server, Clinton increased attack surface available to hackers and made it more likely that classified information was exposed. Depending on how much attention was paid to security, it could have been a lot more exposed.
Furthermore, it sounds as if Clinton sent some emails herself that contained information derived from classified sources — I assume it’s things she had learned from classified material. This is potentially more serious, although not terribly uncommon.
Personally, unless there’s something really damaging that got exposed, I’m less concerned about the classified stuff and much more concerned that Clinton is the type of person who would want to hide the things she was doing as Secretary of State.
Your last paragraph is almost enough, but thanks, you also helped to explain why this is not “nonsense” and substantive.
Oh…I should emphasize that whether there was actual harm from Hillary’s breach is consequentialism and moral luck. It’s enough that her tactics could have been harmful, and there was no justification for it.
And the ridiculous and continuing lying, spin and deceit, of course…
Yeah, I was kind of just trying to give some background about the classified email issue, because in theory her private server should never be in a position to expose classified information, but in practice, yes it was.
If Ms. Clinton drowned a litter of puppies on national TV. It would be seen by her followers as a good!!!
No, that, or shooting a lion, would be a deal-breaker.
The thing is… she hasn’t been SEEN doing anything wrong, yet. What we have are connections to disasters that are intangible and vague to voters, they’re able to forgive her because they don’t understand, they don’t understand because understanding would be difficult and uncomfortable and they choose not to.