Her Email Games May Have Been Deadly
By Quin Hillyer
Hillary Clinton, currently reeling in the polls, may still skate away from her current scandal involving misuse of a private email server. If she does, it will be because she successfully changed the expectations about what is and isn’t allowable behavior. If she doesn’t, it will be because Americans are figuring out just how serious, even deadly, her transgressions have been.
On the latter point, listen to Andrew McCarthy – an expert on laws relating to national security and the former federal prosecutor responsible for convicting Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the mastermind of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.
“Human lives may be at risk because of what Hillary did,” McCarthy told me in a radio interview on WAVH-FM in Mobile, Ala., on Sept. 4. “In fact, lives already may have been lost.”
McCarthy said that even messages not officially “classified” could still contain information that could have come from only a few possible intelligence sources.
“If you’re ISIS and you know that only three people could possibly have provided this information, then you just kill all three,” he said.
The deadly consequences also could occur indirectly, McCarthy added. The very fact that the Secretary of State was using a less secure server to discuss work-related business may make foreign governments less likely to provide information in the war against terrorists – for fear of their aid being divulged and thus leading to attacks against them. So, for example, a sometimes-helpful, sometimes-not-helpful government such as Pakistan might decide that cooperation with Americans isn’t worth the risk of angering Al Qaeda into another attack against Pakistani targets.
Result: A terrorist leader’s location, known to Pakistan’s government, may go unshared with American contacts; the leader will not be subject to a U.S. drone strike that could otherwise occur; and the terrorist therefore would survive to wreak further havoc on innocents worldwide.
These are just two examples – and, McCarthy said, they aren’t as speculative or hypothetical as they might seem.
“These things really do happen,” he said. “That’s why State Department servers enjoy special security measures that outside servers don’t.”
That’s why, McCarthy said, Secretary Clinton’s self-indulgent actions were so outrageously reckless.
This is also why it is important that Clinton not succeed in “moving the goalposts” regarding what sorts of behavior is acceptable in the first place.
Go back to March, when the existence of her private server first became publicly known. Review the transcript, and you won’t see Clinton make any distinction between classified and unclassified messages. The key consideration, she said, was that she had turned over to the State Department every single email that was work-related at all, while withholding only those that were “about planning Chelsea’s wedding or my mother’s funeral arrangements, condolence notes to friends as well as yoga routines, family vacations, the other things you typically find in inboxes.”
Of course we now know that explanation was long ago made “inoperative.” Plenty of since-recovered emails, as it turns out, involved entirely work-related matters. Some was unclassified; some apparently was classified later; and some contained material that was classified all along even if the whole document was not stamped or marked “classified.” As Secretary of State, Mrs. Clinton darn well knew that to be the case.
And as McCarthy has explained, she also knew that even unclassified information, if hacked, could do serious damage to innocent people or to the national interest. That’s why she originally tried to make the distinction not between classified and unclassified, but between work-related and non-work-related.
It is a horrid thing, both dishonest and reckless, that Clinton used a private server for public business. It is even worse that she tried to hide it by failing to turn over work-related email when asked – thus making it harder to determine if dangerous information was put at risk in the first place.
And it would be unconscionable to let her get away with any of it. Hillary Clinton should withdraw from the presidential race – and be shunned entirely by a justifiably angry public.