Top Secret

Standard

The bloviators of the email questions surrounding presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – pro and con – have kept a key question out of the focus of the public eye: How did Mrs. Clinton do her job then if she neither received nor sent any emails classified within the various  “top secret” denominations?

We must be open to the possibility that there was a way to do it. Government has its intricacies. In light of the revelation that Mrs. Clinton merged her personal and government email accounts and stored both on her own, personal server, the question deserves impartial investigation.

As a voting public, we have to be critical and discerning of our government employees, especially those who seek elected office, so the answer or answers to that question deserve to be discovered. As partisans, we don’t always ask the same questions, and we may disagree on what constitutes a satisfactory answer. In the case of national security, however, we do have laws that govern its maintenance and we do expect our leaders – they are, after all, “leading” – to use common sense to protect our vital secrets. When they fail on either account, we should take such failure into reckoning before casting our votes.

My viewpoint is that Mrs. Clinton already has two strikes against her in this matter. As someone who has used personal and professional email accounts, it makes no sense to me to merge them, especially if the professional account is one subject to public record.

First, I want to watch what I say on my professional account, even if I am not involved in national security. I am involved in the company’s well-being and its secrets, or I am involved in the matters of a government body, which often has rules and regulations to protect the citizens it serves in its communications. So I don’t want to have my personal matters – Johnny’s drinking problem, a child’s poor grade in a subject, my disagreement with my wife over what church we should attend – to become fodder for my co-workers, managers, agency heads, owner, etc. Even benign concerns, like a wedding dress or a grocery list, aren’t proper subjects for commingling with emails on professional purposes.

Plus, the converse is true: professional emails should not be commingled with personal emails. I know I don’t want the two to mix. My business communications require a formality and gravity that my personal communications do not. While there may be occasions when one must use one’s personal account, by and large, I think most people will avoid that, unless it is a small business or one with contract employees. After a day of stuffy, serious emails, I usually let loose with what I really think or feel or with some levity in my personal emails! That’s the place for such expression.

Again, I understand that some people may have commingled their personal and professional emails under one account. I believe that generally that is not the rule, and especially so at mid and high levels. If you work for a corporation or company of medium to large size, or a government body, ask whether your bosses want, or the policy is, to keep professional and personal matters separate or joined.

That Mrs. Clinton chose to commingle her personal and private emails on one account is the first strike for me. Doesn’t make sense, is a violation of state department and executive policy and, in the case of top secret information, may have been illegal in its operation.

The second strike is Mrs. Clinton’s choice to put her personal and professional emails on the same server. While the owner of a business, company, or corporation would have the right to do that, a public officeholder – hired, appointed, or elected – would not. Personal email accounts are so easy to access in this day and age, even multiple accounts, and their information can be store on one computer, online on a server, in a cloud, or some combination of them. But why would you shift your personal account to a server, if that is what Mrs. Clinton did? Worse, why would you shift your professional email account, which does not belong to you but to the government and, hence, to the American people, and put it on your own server? By what right? And why would the American people want Mrs. Clinton’s personal emails kept with the emails of their government?

It is here in particular that the greatest suspicion arises, in particular because of the security issues. Would not the state department’s own servers be more secure than a personal server operated by Mrs. Clinton? If they are not, then we ought to hire Mrs. Clinton to provide security for the governments insecure servers! (I am not saying here that the government’s servers are as secure as they should be; maybe they need improvement.)

At the least, Mrs. Clinton’s assertion does not make sense. And whether any politician has done so previously and gotten away with it is not a reason to allow it at all, but especially with national security information. At the worst, her assertion masks a serious national security violation and a serious flaw in government oversight.

I find Mrs. Clinton’s explanations at her campaign events to be little more than bloviating. To be sure, politicians will make hay out of everything. We, however, are the voting public. To utter astonishingly disingenuous statements like, “I’m not going to get down in the mud [with her critics]” only appears to prove the case. Mrs. Clinton has the obligation to answer questions because we the people deserve to know what happened.

It is not our job to put Mrs. Clinton in office. It is her job to prove to us she is worthy and capable of performing the high duties to which she aspires. She must earn our votes. Failing to answer questions, retreating from past statements made in defense of her actions, and using her own, personal server for our business instead of a more secure government server all cast doubts on her worthiness.

Democrats need not fear that the 2016 presidential election is lost if Mrs. Clinton must abandon her campaign, or if, as it seems may be happening, she erodes her campaign’s credibility and viability herself. Waiting in the wings is the fiery and genuine Elizabeth Warren and the veteran Joe Biden, a loyal and qualified party member and our vice-president. Already onstage is Bernie Sanders, a man of good character whose message appeals to many more folks than the national news gives credit. Democrats should avoid the problem Republicans have had: putting forth the candidate the insiders think deserves a crack but who may not be the best for Democratic voters or the country’s citizens as a whole.

The notion that Biden or Mrs. Warren, and perhaps even Sanders, could not campaign on an even field with any Republican candidate is flawed. Indeed, they lack the negatives that are stitched so deeply into the fabric of Mrs. Clinton’s being.

Let the investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s email practice be impartial and get to the bottom of what happened.

 

 

 

 

 

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