Congressman About Hillary
American Military News
I spent much of my adult life serving in the Marine Corps. Over those 26 years,
I learned firsthand the consequences of poor decisions. Sometimes these errors
were unavoidable, the result of bad luck or unforeseen events. While tragic and
regrettable, the consequences of these mistakes were easier to take as part of
the fortunes of war. What I could never tolerate were mistakes made from willful
ignorance or the outright flaunting of established rules and procedures.
Whether we were officers or enlisted, grunts or pilots, we all knew there was
one standard no matter who you were. This idea isn’t unique to the Marine
Corps, and Americans have always believed that no one, no matter how high
ranking, is above the law.
decision to let Hillary Clinton escape prosecution for her “extremely careless”
handling of classified information is troubling because it calls into question
the American belief that we are all equal before the law. In the case of
Secretary Clinton, we find there are two standards: one for the political
elite, and one for the rest of us. In my military career, I knew firsthand that
handling classified information was a sacred trust. Keeping those secrets safe
protected American lives and ensured the security of our nation. I also knew
that the penalties for violating this trust were severe. Mishandling classified
material was, and continues to be, a career-ending move in nearly any job.
held all public officials to this high standard, regardless of their office.
We’ve seen military officers like David Petraeus prosecuted and a Director of
the CIA, John Deutch, forced to resign, narrowly avoiding legal penalties for
mishandling secrets by securing a pardon from President Bill Clinton. This
isn’t a partisan issue, with both Republicans, like Scooter Libby, and
Democrats, like Sandy Berger, facing stiff penalties for mishandling secrets
and putting critical intelligence at risk. The protection of classified
information transcends politics, or at least it should.
The FBI found
that Secretary Clinton sent at least 110
emails marked classified from her completely unauthorized and unsecure
private server. Previous to the FBI investigation, Clinton claimed the emails
were classified after they reached her server, but that was an outright lie:
documents were clearly marked classified when she sent them from her private
email address on her private server. Eight
of these email chains contained information so sensitive it was marked “Top
Secret: Special Access Program,” a classification reserved for only the
most highly guarded intelligence operations like clandestine counterterrorism
operations or spy satellite capabilities. Clearly, if Clinton were still the
Secretary of State when this behavior was discovered, she would have had no
choice but to resign or face termination.
This kind of
wanton disregard for our most sensitive secrets disqualifies Clinton from ever
handling classified information again. More disturbingly, the failure of the
FBI to recommend her prosecution for these failures means we’re creating two
standards, one for political elites and another for everybody else. Any normal
professional in our intelligence community would have been punished long ago
for these kinds of reckless mistakes. Instead, we’ve accepted a double standard
that’s unsafe for our country and downright un-American in its injustice.
When I retired from the Marine
Corps, I thought I understood the single fair and equal standard we have for
preserving our nation’s secrets. We cannot have two standards, especially
when our national security is involved. We are one nation with one set of laws
and powerful politicians should face the same penalties as our service members
and intelligence professionals when they break them.