In an article for the Washington Post column “The Plum line,” Paul Waldman wrote, after noting that reports on the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified materials suggest that the F.B.I. has found no intent on her part to violate classification rules,
“That point about her intending to break classification rules is important, because in order to have broken the law, it isn’t enough for Clinton to have had classified information in a place where it was possible for it to be hacked. She would have had to intentionally given classified information to someone without authorization to have it, like David Petraeus did when he showed classified documents to his mistress (and then lied to the FBI about it, by the way). Despite the enormous manpower and time the Justice Department has devoted to this case, there has never been even a suggestion, let alone any evidence, that Clinton did any such thing.”
This continued a process, begun and fed by Clinton herself, to mislead the public about the investigation, the law, and Clinton’s conduct. It is the insidious “narrative” tactic again, and it apparently almost impossible to fight. For example, an old friend, a smart and informed former journalist, recently posted on Facebook to the effect that he wondered if the F.B.I. would investigate Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice, since they also used personal e-mail for official business while Secretary of State. He wrote this in good faith, because this has been a central defense from Clinton for more than a year. It is harder to kill than the Hydra, despite the fact that it is pure deceit, for two reasons.
The first is that what was considered responsible and acceptable use of technology nine years ago is not responsible and acceptable use of technology now. What was considered responsible and acceptable use of technology nine weeks ago is often not responsible and acceptable use of technology now. The acceleration of technology development was well underway when Clinton was appointed, and new security measures and best practices at all the major agencies reflected that. If she intentionally ignored this, she was irresponsible and reckless; if she negligently failed to follow them, she was incompetent. No matter how Rice and Powell handled their e-mail, it was a different time, and the comparison is invalid and misleading. No one who understands technology and the speed with which it evolves, with accepted practices becoming dangerous and incompetent virtually over-nigh, could hear Clinton’s “They did it too!” excuse without rolling their eyes. But of course, this spin isn’t intended for those who understand the issues involved. They are designed for people like my friend, who are relatively uninformed regarding technology, and can be converted into an effective disinformation agent without his consent or knowledge. Continue reading