Serious developments in Clinton e-mail scandal

Published 9:37 am Thursday, January 28, 2016

I usually write about things with which I have had some experience. My last two columns related to my time in Pakistan. In fact, I planned to write another column about Muslims, but events intervened.

This time the event was the disclosure on Jan. 18 that Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server included several dozen e-mails some with information from a special access program (SAP). That may not mean much to most people.

However, I know how sensitive SAP information is. My last five years in the Army, I worked inside a Sensitive Compartment Information Facility (SCIF) in the Pentagon. SCI is usually obtained by technical means—photo and signals intelligence. SAP information usually comes from human intelligence. When a SAP is compromised, people may die.

Some people may consider the whole brouhaha about Clinton’s e-mails as just a political tempest in a teapot. Bernie Sanders said, “I’m tired of hearing about your damned e-mails.” Please believe me. It is not a tempest in a teapot. If a military officer had done what Clinton did, he or she would first immediately lose access to classified information of any type. That person would lose his or her job. Then that person would be court-martialed.

In Clinton’s case, she may or may not be indicted. A Democrat Attorney General may decide not to present her case for an indictment for political reasons. If that happens, she may continue to run for president and she may even win in November. Then what happens? Will U.S. information services trust her as president with their most sensitive information? Will foreign governments share their information? It’s difficult to predict the dysfunction that might occur in our national security organizations with a President Hillary Clinton.

If you haven’t read or heard, Hillary Clinton had her own private e-mail server as Secretary of State, which wasn’t supervised by the State Department, and its electronic security is unknown. She used this server for her communications when outside her office.

By Secretary Clinton’s estimate it had over 60,000 e-mails. She erased half because they were personal in her opinion and sent the remaining half to State Department in response to a government order.

Only Secretary Clinton knows what was contained in the 30,000 e-mails she erased. In the 30,000 e-mails she forwarded to the State Department and, incidentally on a thumb drive to her lawyer, were more than a thousand e-mails containing classified information, including some as high as top secret. Some e-mails contained SCI and SAP information.

The final number of each kind of sensitive information will not be known until the State Department and other intelligence agencies finish their analysis. I shudder to imagine what kind of information was in the 30,000 “personal” e-mails Clinton erased.

Hillary Clinton’s defense for her actions amounts to, “I didn’t send or receive e-mails that were marked classified.” To anybody familiar with classified information, that sounds dumb. Information that could only be obtained by human or technical means is obviously classified, marked as such or not. There is even evidence that Secretary Clinton instructed a subordinate to send her information that couldn’t be sent by classified FAX via unsecured means with “headings removed.” Her protestations are rubbish that she may have been unaware of the sensitivity of her communications because they were unmarked.

It’s probable that all the information on Secretary Clinton’s server was hacked by foreign intelligence agencies. If hackers can penetrate the Office of Personnel Management and hackers can read the Director of National Intelligence’s private e-mail, it’s likely that foreign government and private hackers could penetrate Secretary Clinton’s server, which had private security — not the more robust security of Federal agencies.

The scale of Secretary Clinton’s malfeasance as Secretary of State is staggering. The innermost secrets of the Obama administration were open to compromise.

As some have said, Edward Snowden didn’t reveal government secrets as important as Secretary Clinton probably did.

Hillary Clinton should never ever again have the trust of the American people. She has forfeited any opportunity to hold office. If the American people should vote for her again, our national security would be at risk. I fear for my country.


Michael Waldron is a retired lieutenant colonel, U.S. Army, who was born and raised in Niles. He previously served on the Niles Community School Board of Education. He can be reached at