Beyond Partisanship: Why Clinton is Unfit For Commander in Chief

Original Article

Obsession with the extent and legal culpability of Hillary Clinton in her handling of classified information as secretary of state through a private, home-based and unsecure email server makes for intrigue and anticipation of a perp-walk indictment and ensuing political drama. But it misses the mark on what voters need to understand.

Clinton’s repeated claims that she neither received nor sent classified information through her private email system and her tacit assertion of good judgment and accomplishment in national security matters as secretary of state were incredulous from the very beginning. Consider just two things.

First, the job of the secretary of state has always required extensive communication involving classified and top-secret information from the intelligence agencies and the departments of Defense and State. If what Clinton originally said was actually true, she simply could not have performed her job.

Second, the risk of cybertheft and data breach require that the transmission of sensitive government information and diplomatic communication through electronic channels such as email adhere to the highest standards of security.

What Clinton chose to do was to communicate through an unsecure private email server rather than the federal government system designed to archive correspondence and protect sensitive information from being compromised or stolen.

Her choice subordinated national security interests to her own private interests. And she pursued this course after a litany of highly visible major data breaches and cybercrimes had been committed and widely reported on in the U.S., incidents. These included:

  1. The September 2007 successful hacking of the DHS and DOD networks.
  2. The October 2007 hacking of more 1,000 computers at the Oak Ridge National Labs
  3. The January 2008 hacking and theft of information from the CIA that involved at least four different incidents
  4. The high-profile reporting in March 2008 by U.S. government officials that American, European and Japanese companies were experiencing unprecedented industrial cyber-espionage resulting in the theft of intellectual property worth billions of dollars.
  5. The summer 2008 hacking and downloading of the data bases of both the Republican and the Democratic presidential campaigns by foreign intruders.
  6. The November 2008 hacking of classified networks at DOD and Centcom by foreign intruders.

If Hillary’s initial response to the private email server scandal — that she never received or sent classified information — was a lie, her motivations behind choosing a private email server over a government-secured one appear worse.

Her admission that in hindsight it was a mistake to choose one device tied to a private system to handle both her personal and federal government communication for convenience revealed she put her personal interests above national security. She failed to follow protocol to protect her nation’s secrets and the lives of people abroad serving or cooperating with the U.S.

It is self-evident that Clinton’s choice to use a private email server was an extension of her secretive personality. But why?

One likely explanation is a political calculation that she needed to shroud tacit, continuing behind-the-scenes involvement with her family’s private Clinton Foundation, and the fundamental conflicts of interest therein with her oath of office as secretary of state.

It is no secret that the operations and fund-raising of the Clinton Foundation, targeting wealthy foreign business interests and governments, have all the earmarks of a giant international political slush fund. As such, it is ideally suited for political payback and quid pro quos — some of which appear to have been delivered on during Clinton’s tenure at State, but others likely to be fulfilled following a successful bid for the presidency.

In addition, Hillary’s judgment and choices leading up to the attack on the U.S. Consulate at Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, and her response afterward have many similarities to those surrounding the email scandal.

There was the lie about the video as being the cause of the attack. But worse, there was a casual disregard for the security of the consulate in Benghazi. Clinton testified, apparent without remorse, that none of the more than 350 field requests for increased security during 2012 alone prior to the attack reached her.

Neither was there attention given to increasing security and preparedness at high-risk locations such as Benghazi in anticipation of the anniversary of 9/11. Hillary was simply derelict in one of the fundamental duties as secretary of state: Making sure American embassies, consulates and personnel around the world have proper staff and protection.

At one point in the congressional hearings on Benghazi seeking causality on the terrorist violence that cost four American lives, Clinton irascibly exclaimed, “What difference does it make?” She was equally curt in interviews conducted right before the Iowa caucuses on the subject of mishandling of classified information through her private email: “I am not willing to say it was an error in judgment because nothing I did was wrong.”

In the final common-sense analysis — beyond partisanship and legal indictment — the crux of Hillary’s problem is specifically her legacy of bad judgment, deceit and a callous dereliction of duty to people serving inside and outside government.

These traits and the littered record she’s left behind make her wholly disqualified and unfit to become commander-in-chief of the United States.

Scott S. Powell

Senior Fellow, Center on Wealth and Poverty
Scott Powell has enjoyed a career split between theory and practice with over 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur and rainmaker in several industries. He joins the Discovery Institute after having been a fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution for six years and serving as a managing partner at a consulting firm, RemingtonRand. His research and writing has resulted in over 250 published articles on economics, business and regulation. Scott Powell graduated from the University of Chicago with honors (B.A. and M.A.) and received his Ph.D. in political and economic theory from Boston University in 1987, writing his dissertation on the determinants of entrepreneurial activity and economic growth.