With new disclosures in a letter from the Intelligence Community inspector general to the chairmen of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Foreign Relations committee, the Hillary Clinton email scandal has entered a new and precarious phase for the Democratic presidential candidate.
Given the punishments handed out to people like General Petraeus and other high-ranking government officials for disclosing classified information to people without the proper clearance or a need to know, many respected former government officials and legal experts argue the Justice Department must indict her. On the other hand, others say that President Obama, who has shown blatant disrespect for the law, simply won’t indict her; she’d have to commit an axe murder in public before he would allow her to be prosecuted.
For almost any other offense, I would agree with the latter. For this offense, however, I believe the administration has no choice but to indict her. I held a TOP SECRET SENSITIVE COMPARTMENTED INFORMATION (SCI) clearance for 32 years in the department of defense. During much of that time I had access to several special access programs (SAP). Among the most sensitive of them was HUMINT (human intelligence). This is information about clandestine human intelligence collection operations. Disclosure of this information reveals sources and methods which pose not only a grave risk to U.S. national security but puts at risk the lives of foreign agents and U.S. case officers. High-level sources have told FOX News reporter Catherine Herridge that some of those emails referred to in the inspector general’s letter involved HUMINT information. Consider the fuss and the designation of a special prosecutor made over the disclosure of Valerie Plame’s identity, and she no longer was working as a clandestine agent.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ recently stated that, “The odds were pretty high” that governments hostile to the United States accessed Hillary Clinton‘s private server.” This makes Clinton vulnerable. She sent and received classified information thru a personal unclassified email server. According to the law, whether or not it was marked as classified at the time is irrelevant. The secretary of state should be able to recognize classified information when she see’s it. I can tell you from personal experience, recognizing classified information isn’t that hard to do.
Whether or not the Russians, Chinese or Iranians hacked into her email or not, allowing that possibility to exists constitutes gross negligence. Again, under the law [18 U.S.C § 793(f)(1)] such gross negligence is a felony.
I won’t predict that President Obama’s Justice Department will indict Hillary Clinton, but if it doesn’t the damage to our country done by that omission will be greater than the damage Hillary Clinton already has done by her disregard for national security. It would set a precedent that would make it very difficult to prosecute senior officials who commit similar offensives in the future.
To be sure, indicting a former first lade, senator and secretary of State would be unprecedented and would set off a bitter partisan debate. Nevertheless, no American is above the law.