For an army of ethically compromised defenders in politics and the media, Hillary Clinton’s email scandal is being framed as little more than a political attack aimed solely at derailing her presidential candidacy. Yet while each new revelation makes it harder to dismiss Hillary and Bill’s seemingly endless effort to monetize the Clinton Foundation by virtually any means possible, most of it is beside the point. What’s not beside the point is the reality that Hillary Clinton is a walking, talking national security disaster.
The Daily Beast’s John R. Schindler, who wonders if other officials in the Obama administration, including the president, will be burned by this scandal, notes that many counterintelligence officials now assume Clinton’s emails have been read by foreign intelligence officials in Russia and China because her server was “wholly unencrypted for months.” A Department of Defense counterintelligence official was so certain of that reality he insisted that anyone working for the Chinese or Russians would be fired if they couldn’t explain why “they didn’t have all of Hillary’s email.”
As if on cue, RadarOnline.com revealed a person claiming to be a computer specialist allegedly has 32,000 emails from Clinton’s private server, and is putting them up for sale for $500,000. “Promising to give the trove of the former Secretary of State’s emails to the highest bidder, the specialist is showing subject lines as proof of what appear to be legitimate messages,” the website states.
At least four of those emails contain subject lines with the word “Sid,” presumably referring to Clinton hatchet man Sidney Blumenthal, whose own AOL account was breached in 2013 by the Romanian hacker known as Guccifer. That hack also revealed Clinton’s @clintonemail.com email address. The website’s source warns that if the 32,000 emails enter the public domain, “not only is Hillary finished as a potential Presidential nominee, she could put our country’s national security at risk.”
She already has, and the National Review’s Stanley Kurtz reveals the unassailable logic behind that assertion. Even if Clinton was extraordinarily lucky, and the Russians and Chinese haven’t accessed some or all of her emails, it is nonetheless incumbent on the nation’s entire security community to behave as if they did. “Doesn’t that mean that we are now making massive changes to the sources and methods of our intelligence?” Kurtz asks. “Are we now withdrawing valuable agents? Are we trying to replace methods that cannot be easily replicated? Are we now forced to rebuild a good deal of our intelligence capabilities from the ground up? Are we not suffering tremendous intelligence damage right now, regardless of what foreign intelligence services did or did not manage to snatch from Hillary’s server—simply because we are forced to assume that they got it all?”
Considering the stakes—as well as the reality there have been massive hacks at Office of Personnel Management, networks of the Department of Defense (DOD), the IRS, the State Department (called the “worst ever”), and the White House, compromising the personal data of million of Americans—the answer is an unequivocal yes.
Yet arrogant as ever, Hillary completely dismisses the possibility her emails were hacked, insisting in March her private system “was set up for President Clinton’s office. And it had numerous safeguards. It was on property guarded by the Secret Service. And there were no security breaches.”
FBI investigators refuse to confirm that assessment, and they will continue to probe for digital traces of cyber-espionage by foreign governments. That probe includes determining how the data on the private server were protected, a forensic analysis of the physical server to ascertain whether traces of code appear that suggest hacking programs, and an effort to reconstruct the logs of any machines that accessed Clinton’s server during her tenure as Secretary of State.
All this was necessitated by the reality that the server turned over to the FBI by Denver-based computer services firm Platte River Networks, who had been hired by the Clintons in 2013 after Hillary had left the State Department, had been wiped clean.
Clinton continues to insist she has done nothing wrong. Yet the trail of lies that attends this scandal says otherwise. At her press conference in March, Clinton claimed she carried “one device for my work.” Two weeks later a freedom of information request by the AP revealed Clinton’s use of multiple electronic devices, including an iPad and a BlackBerry. At the same presser she insisted she was “well aware of classification requirements and did not send classified material.” We now know Clinton wrote and sent at least six e-mails containing classified information using her private server. And the inspector general of 17 spy agencies told Congress a random sample of 40 emails already released contained information labeled “Top Secret.”
Clinton also insisted there was no law or regulation preventing her from having “the full authority to decide how I was going to communicate.” Yet in 2009, shortly after Clinton became Secretary of State, the U.S. Code of federal regulations on handling electronic records was updated. It stated that “Agencies that allow employees to send and receive official electronic mail messages using a system not operated by the agency must ensure that Federal records sent or received on such systems are preserved in the appropriate agency record-keeping system.” Responsibility for adhering to that law was the responsibility of “the head of each federal agency.” Furthermore, a cable bearing Clinton’s signature warned department employees to “avoid conducting official Department business from your personal e-mail accounts.”
Apparently Clinton’s inner circle, which includes former Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills, Deputy Chief of Staff Jacob Sullivan, and personal aide Huma Abedin, never got the memo. Every one of them sent or received classified emails from Clinton. And Abedin also had a private account on the server that is now in FBI custody.
And staying true to Clinton form, Hillary’s defense of her actions is “evolving.” When the scandal first saw the light of day, Clinton insisted there was “no classified material” in her possession. Now she claims “I did not send nor did I receive material marked classified.” The Washington Times’ Monica Crowley notes the change is due to the reality some of the documents involved have been “manipulated.” “Their classified markings have been removed or changed, which would explain why she has changed her public statements about what was in her possession — and when,” she writes. Crowley also notes that even if a document isn’t specifically marked as classified, certain information, such as exchanges with a foreign government, are automatically assumed to be secret.
Since Clinton has already stated she was aware of classification requirements, her supporters face an unenviable dilemma: while they wait for the FBI to determine whether Clinton broke any laws, they must still come to grips with the gargantuan level of incompetence and contempt for national security Hillary has already demonstrated.
And what little credibility she has left will be taking another hit next week. That’s when Bryan Pagliano, a former presidential campaign aide who set up Clinton’s home server is 2009, has been subpoenaed to testify before Congress. Yet he made it known to the House Select Committee on Benghazi, the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the Senate Homeland Security Committee that he will invoke his Fifth Amendment rights to avoid testifying against the former Secretary of State. “In response to questions . . . Mr. Pagliano’s legal counsel told the committee yesterday that he would plead the Fifth to any and all questions if he were compelled to testify,” a spokesperson for committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-IA) said in a statement released Wednesday.
Unsurprisingly, the House Benghazi Committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), leaped to Clinton’s defense. He insisted the subpoena issued by Committee Chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) was an effort to smear her. “Although multiple legal experts agree there is no evidence of criminal activity, it is certainly understandable that this witness’s attorneys advised him to assert his Fifth Amendment rights, especially given the onslaught of wild and unsubstantiated accusations by Republican presidential candidates, members of Congress and others based on false leaks about the investigation,” Cummings declared. “Their insatiable desire to derail Secretary Clinton’s presidential campaign at all costs has real consequences for any serious congressional effort.”
Regardless, the sludge continues to pile up. As Breitbart News reveals Clinton paid to hide the identity of people who ran her private email server, allowing “another faceless company access to her classified email information, while doing little to nothing to secure that information from hackers.” They further note she shared a server with the Clinton Foundation, as well as Bill and Chelsea Clinton, raising the possibility that employees unaffiliated with the State Department had access to it. The server also had a webmail subdomain called webmail.clintonemail.com that enables web traffic to bypass hardware and software firewalls, allowing unrestricted access by hackers. Moreover the encryption used was so weak, companies have been phasing it out for the last decade.
“Of course (Clinton and her staff) knew what they were doing, it’s as clear as day from the emails,” one senior official who is close to the investigation told the Daily Beast. “I’m a Democrat and this makes me sick. They were fully aware of what they were up to, and the Bureau knows it.”
What the FBI knows and what the FBI does may or may not coincide. And while Clinton supporters and their media enablers have long been able to stomach a trail of sleaze, from lucrative cattle futures and missing Whitewater and Rose Law firm records, to foreign cash donations for Russian uranium mines and other dubious deals reeking of quid pro quo that emanate from the swamp known as the Clinton Foundation, it remains to be seen if they’ll countenance a national security disaster precipitated by nothing more than Hillary’s Clinton’s penchant for self-protection. It is one thing to elect a president and subsequently discover his or her flaws. It is quite another to knowingly place a congenital liar in the White House. One who has undoubtedly placed this nation’s security at considerable risk. Rabid partisanship is one thing. Intellectual and moral bankruptcy is quite another.