Two Points About the Hillary Clinton Email Fiasco

October surprise! Hillary’s emails are back in the news, and the FBI is hot on the trail. I don’t think her emails endangered national security. I think the real issue is the way Hillary and her campaign has handled the issue. Instead of being forthcoming and cooperative, they’ve been tight-lipped and secretive. The whole issue is illustrative of an insular, inbred, and incestuous world that is centered on Hillary Clinton, a world of “us” against “them,” a world that reminds me of the Nixon campaign. It doesn’t bode well …

Bracing Views

Hillary in 2013 Hillary in 2013

W.J. Astore

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…

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5 thoughts on “Two Points About the Hillary Clinton Email Fiasco

  1. You often give cogent reasons for your views. “To me, the real issue is not that Hillary endangered national security by sending classified information in the clear.” Care to explain why? People in a much better position than you to know what they are talking about are not quite as sanguine. They also point out that whether or not national security was endangered, what she did was flat-out illegal, and people who have offended much less egregiously have been indicted, convicted, and put in the slammer.
    As for what you ARE concerned about, you should be a lot MORE concerned:


    1. That’s a fair question, and it’s related to the 2nd part of my article. I believe the U.S. government classifies far too much. They do so for many reasons: to obscure transparency, e.g. to hide mistakes, or waste/fraud/abuse; out of laziness (it might be easier to slap a “secret” label on it than determine whether it really needs to be secret); as a way of protecting institutional turf; as a way of heightening the importance of what is otherwise mundane; and so on.

      In other words, what is really “top secret”? And what is truly damaging to national security? Think of the Pentagon Papers: highly classified, but more as a matter of keeping material out of the hands of the American people, who deserved an honest assessment of U.S. policy toward Vietnam, rather than the misinformation they were being fed by the U.S. government abetted by an often compliant and complacent media.

      Obviously, many revelations would be truly damaging to national security. As far as I know, Hillary Clinton isn’t accused (yet) of revealing anything that damaged U.S. security. Perhaps that’s accidental, but it may also be because she was careful, or not entirely careless.

      But to me (as I’ve said) the way she’s handled the incident/controversy, over the last couple of years now, is more indicative of her character and judgment. The stonewalling, the excuses, trying to duck responsibility by implicating Colin Powell, and finally a tepid apology followed by a shoulder shrug: her avoidance of personal responsibility and her studied lack of concern about the truth are indicative of traits I’d rather not see in a leader. This, to me, is far more worrying than if she accidentally sent a message that revealed the location of a classified U.S. drone base or black site.


  2. Thank you for your answer. I will continue to look for enlightenment through your Bracing Views. But, with all due respect, I don’t think that your answer was actually very responsive to my query. Perhaps you should read it again. I agree with you, of course, that the government often overclassifies for the nefarious or irresponsible reasons you mention, but I don’t see the relevance of that to the matter of Hillary’s unprotected email server through which she conducted state business. I thought I had made it clear that the question of whether or not she actually “endangered national security” was not the main point, especially if what you have in mind the specific content of the recovered emails. She communicated business of state over an insecure, private server that could easily be accessed by unauthorised parties; this is, in itself, an offence of the kind for which others have been severely punished. And since she evidently destroyed about 30,000 emails (wasn’t that the estimated number?) and had a couple of computers smashed, we’ll in any case never know about the content. Evidently, the deal that was proposed by State to the F.B.I. for “reclassification”-for-favors (“quid pro quo” in polite language) involved the Bengazi matter, according to a story in the New York Times of 18 October: I should think that that would be compromising enough, even by your tolerant standards, if she was doing that stuff over her private server.
    Your comparison of what Clinton did with whistleblowing (you mention the Pentagon papers; whereas you might also have mentioned Snowden or Wikileaks, whom Clinton would like to kill or throw into a black hole) is not apt. Clinton’s possible “disclosures” – ostensibly unintentional – whatever they might have been, were not done in order to reveal irresponsibility, fraud, corruption, black flag operations, war crimes or other such matters, but precisely to conceal from official or public scrutiny Clinton’s actions as Secretary of State, some of which might well (and some apparently do) fall within the just-mentioned categories. Sorry I can’t just let this go – such was my disappointment.


    1. Yes, I’m certainly not trying to defend Hillary Clinton. What she has displayed (at the very least) is poor judgment combined with evasiveness and equivocation. I’m not sure we’ll ever know what was in those deleted emails, but what we do know is how she’s handled the issue: poorly. Not what I want in a president.


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