Accuracy in Media

While many of his colleagues at The Washington Post rally around Hillary Clinton in light of the FBI investigation into her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, Colbert I. King says that her actions are “deplorable” and set a “dreadful example” for the national security community that she hopes to lead.

King, who was a State Department special agent in 1968 when Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. was the U.S. Ambassador to West Germany, recalled how Lodge and Clinton are very much alike when it comes to protecting classified information:

“By using her own, unclassified email servers to communicate and store highly sensitive government information — as the FBI established — Clinton, as with Lodge before her, placed personal interests above the obligation to properly protect classified information.

The difference is that, unlike in Lodge’s case, no one tried to save Clinton — and by extension, national security — from herself.

To the contrary, Clinton had enablers.

A May State Department inspector general’s report on email records management and cybersecurity during Clinton’s tenure said: ‘Two staff in [Clinton’s executive secretariat] reported .?.?. that, in late 2010, they each discussed their concerns about Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal email account in separate meetings with the [director of the executive secretariat].’

‘According to [one] staff member, the Director stated that the Secretary’s personal system had been reviewed and approved by Department legal staff and that the matter was not to be discussed any further,’ the report said.

The Office of the Inspector General, it said, ‘found no evidence that staff in the Office of the Legal Adviser reviewed or approved Secretary Clinton’s personal system.’

The OIG also reported that the other staff member who raised concerns said the director stated that the executive secretariat’s ‘mission .?.?. is to support the Secretary and instructed the staff never to speak of the Secretary’s personal email system again.’

What’s more, unlike with Lodge, classified information in Clinton’s custody could have been compromised.

The FBI found that ‘hostile actors‘ (read: foreign sources) gained access to private email accounts of people with whom Clinton was in regular contact through her personal account, and that she used her personal email overseas in ‘the territory of sophisticated adversaries’ (read: Russia and China). It’s not far-fetched to think that her system may have been compromised.

Robert M. Gates, former defense secretary and CIA director, said as much. Noting that the Pentagon has acknowledged getting hacked ‘about 100,000 times a day,’ Gates assessed the odds as ‘pretty high‘ that the Russians, Chinese and Iranians had compromised Clinton’s server.

I’m in no position to second-guess the FBI’s recommendation that, based upon the evidence, no criminal charges should be brought regarding Clinton’s handling of classified information.

But as FBI Director James B. Comey stated at his news briefing, people who have engaged in similar activities have been subject to security and administrative sanctions.

I know of such cases.

A Foreign Service officer sat in my office in Bonn with tears in his eyes because he feared that discovery of the latest in his string of security violations, albeit none willful, might result in the loss of his top-secret clearance and continued diplomatic service. He feared correctly.

Clinton and her colleagues, Comey said, were ‘extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.’ Now that the Justice Department has decided to turn the page on Clinton, the State Department said it will reopen an internal review of the handling of classified information and her email use.

Spoiler alert: Some career employees will be reprimanded.”

King goes on to say that Donald Trump is an unthinkable alternative, calling the presumptive GOP nominee “a dishonest, egotistical, vulgar, mean-spirited bully who resorts to foul religious and racial scapegoating and insults to cover his own insecurities.”

That leaves King stuck with Hillary, and he isn’t exactly giving her a ringing endorsement:

“But that doesn’t mean Clinton’s disregard for proper security isn’t deplorable. She set a dreadful example for the national security community she seeks to lead.

Can she learn from this?

We live in hope.

What else have we got?”

While Trump is far from the perfect candidate, he isn’t the scandal-ridden liar that Clinton is, and won’t be turning the country further to the left as she most certainly would do.

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