Was it wrong for Hillary Clinton to expose national security information to our enemies?
Was it treasonous, at worst, and incredibly stupid, at best, to send 55,000 emails with sensitive content using a non-secure personal computer?
Of course it was wrong and, whether it was treason or merely appalling stupidity and arrogance, it was behavior that clearly demonstrates Hillary Clinton’s unfitness for any office of trust, especially that of President of the United States.
Even Hillary and her own people admit it was a mistake, that she should not have deliberately bypassed State Department procedures for handling such information.
Wrong? A Mistake? There is no rebuttal to the fact that it was very, very wrong and a mistake of astonishing magnitude.
Clinton has argued that intelligence information she handled was not yet classified when she sent it in unsecure emails on her personal server. In essence, the information was so new and raw that it had not yet been classified, which raises further serious doubts about Mrs. Clinton’s judgment. During the past week, it was announced that a couple of dozen of her e-mails carried such dangerous information that they could not even be released to those investigating her misdeeds.
Will the Obama Justice Department indict, prosecute and convict her for thousands of criminal violations of federal statutes pertaining to handling national security information? Probably not.
As of yet, official and public outrage has not been sufficient to cause the Clintons to abandon their ambition for another tenancy of the White House. One is reminded of Joseph Welch’s famous rhetorical question in 1954 to Senator Joseph McCarthy: “Have you no sense of decency?”
Let’s put Mrs. Clinton’s lack of shame in perspective by recalling two instances in which U.S. officials violated national security law, and how those violations were handled. Both cases involved Central Intelligence Agency directors (DCIs).
General Petraeus fired and convicted for security lapses
The most recent involved David Petraeus, a former four-star general, who was made Director of Central Intelligence by President Obama in 2011. After he moved into the DCI suite at Langley, it came out that Petraeus, while serving as commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, had made several thousand printed pages of classified information available to his biographer, who was also his mistress.
The general’s mistress was also a military officer with clearance for classified information, but he had violated the law in making the information available to her. There was no evidence that there was ever any risk that the information the woman saw would fall into the hands of enemies of the United States.
Nevertheless, the Obama Justice Department recommended bringing felony charges against Petraeus, whose lawyers negotiated a plea deal in which he pled guilty to a single charge of mishandling classified information. He paid a fine of $100,000 and was sentenced to two years federal probation. The Department of Defense (DOD) considered further penalties against Petraeus, which would have reduced his rank and, thus, his retirement pay. Only a few days ago, the DOD announced that it would not further punish the CIA director, but his criminal conviction stands.
John Deutch, in and out of favor with the Clintons
The national security crimes of another CIA Director are more interesting than those of General Petraeus for a couple of reasons.
His violations involved, as do Hillary’s, mishandling digitized intelligence information. Even more relevantly, the man was appointed as DCI by Bill Clinton, and it was the Clintons who prosecuted him for mishandling of national security information
The man’s name is John Deutch
John Deutch is one of those guys with a high three-digit IQ and lots of ambition (like George Schultz and Bob Gates), who moved back and forth for several decades from university faculty positions and positions of increasing authority and influence in the U.S. government.
Deutch earned a PhD in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
His first work in the federal government was as one of Bob McNamara’s “whiz kids” at the Defense Department during the Kennedy Administration. Then it was back to MIT as a chemistry professor.
Deutch went back to Washington during the Carter Administration, this time as the Undersecretary of the Department of Energy. Then it was back to Boston, to MIT, this time to serve as Provost and Dean of Science for several years.
Deutch was asked to leave MIT again during the first Clinton Administration, and served as the Deputy Secretary of Defense. After a couple of years at DOD, Deutch was ready to go back to his academic career at MIT. His ambition was to be president of MIT, and he thought he had a good chance of getting that job when Dr. Charles M. Vest retired.
Meanwhile, the worst espionage scandal in the history of the Central Intelligence Agency was exposed early in the Clinton Administration with the arrest of CIA Analyst Aldrich Ames, now still serving a life sentence for spying for the Soviet Union. CIA Director R. James Woolsey was forced to resign in the aftermath of the public outrage over the Ames’ treason.
The Clinton Administration asked Deutch to become Director of Central Intelligence.
Deutch said, “No. Don’t want the job.”
He knew there were strong feelings against the CIA in the academic community and feared serving as DCI would destroy his chances of eventually being made president of MIT.
After Deutch refused, Clinton then appointed a former Air Force general named Michael P. C. Carns to head the CIA.
During the routine FBI investigation of Carns, it was discovered that he had violated both U.S. labor laws and immigration laws by bringing a man from the Philippines into the country to serve as a personal servant in his household. Carns withdrew.
By then, a near emergency situation had developed at CIA, which had been without a Director for three months. Clinton again asked Deutch to become CIA Director, appealing to his sense of patriotic duty. After a good deal of arm twisting, Deutch relented and agreed to take on the top spy job, thus abandoning his long ambition to lead MIT, which is generally considered the top science university in the world.
Deutch was sworn in as CIA Director on May 10, 1995. About a year later in 1996 he was asked to testify before a congressional committee regarding Saddam Hussein’s reign of terror in Iraq. Deutch then gave his opinion as CIA Director that the situation in Iraq was worse than it had been four years earlier, before Clinton was elected. Slick Willie was furious. Telling the truth in public was not necessarily the best way to endear oneself to the 42nd president.
A few weeks after he was elected to a second term, Clinton forced Deutch’s resignation on December 15, 1996. Only a few weeks later, the Clinton Administration announced that Deutch had carried computers with classified information back and forth from CIA headquarters to his home.
An investigation was launched immediately. The computers were CIA-issued Apple laptop computers. Deutch had carried them to his home and back in much the same way earlier executives might have carried a briefcase full of paper. Although it was not routine, as was the case with Secretary of State Clinton, there were apparently a few instances in which Deutch’s CIA-issued computers were hooked up to the Internet at his house. There was no evidence that any classified information was ever actually compromised. Deutch quickly acknowledged that it was a “lapse in judgment” to shuttle classified information by carrying laptops out of the office.
Deutch was, of course, always accompanied by his CIA protective detail while traveling and when at his private residence. He cooperated immediately and fully with investigators.
In an on-again/off-again manner, the Clinton Administration pursued criminal charges against Deutch, but it was a can of worms which Clinton clearly did not want to open up in a criminal trial. A deal was finally reached under which Deutch pled guilty on January 19, 2001, to a single misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified information. The next day, January 20, 2001, his last day as president, Bill Clinton pardoned John Deutch.
How about Hillary?
It is perhaps relevant to note that Deutch’s infractions occurred 20 years ago, in 1995 and 1996, when the Internet was less well-developed and there was far less awareness of the dangers of exposing sensitive information on the World Wide Web. Hillary Clinton, however, cannot claim ignorance of the risks to security during her time as Secretary of State, which ended just three years ago in 2013. Furthermore, she engaged in a rather elaborate scheme to use file servers under her personal control, computers not under the jurisdiction of the State Department or even known to its security personnel. While there is no justification for John Deutch’s carelessness, there is no room to deny that the security abuses of Hillary Clinton were far more egregious.
It was far more than careless. In her case it was coldly deliberate.
It is difficult to see how Obama’s Department of Justice can ignore the findings of its own Inspector General, and hard to imagine how Obama can justify not indicting Mrs. Clinton.
Of course, the matter may have a simple resolution, a happy one for Hillary Clinton.
If she is elected President of the United States, there is nothing to prevent her from pardoning herself.